ALBANY — A film director and writer chose to come back to his childhood home to shoot a pilot titled “Freeman Hospitality,” bringing a small crew onto his family’s properties and into an environment in which they say they are receiving wide support.

Michael Cooke, who made his directorial debut in “Across the Tracks,” is in Albany filming his 20-minute proof of concept pilot at various locations throughout the city this week. He has used locations such as his grandparents’ house and his uncle’s property, both located in the southern end of the city.

The film is set in 2055, and the country is recovering from another civil war. A family running a private security company escorts a foreign journalist into the war-torn lands of south Georgia to interview a warlord.

The film is meant to paint the ultimate outcome from overindulgence to resources, heightened political climates and loose prosecution for financial crimes. The combination of these things is seen from the perspective of a black entrepreneurial family and their skills as a private security company.

“I always wanted to shoot here; this is my second time (filming here),” Cooke said from the set on Tuesday. “You have to go back to where you (feel welcome).

“All of the actors are Georgia-based, and two are former military. I want the things they say to be on point and tactical.”

Once filming is completed, Cooke said about two to three months of post-production will be needed. The film will first be shown on YouTube, and the goal is for it to gain enough momentum for companies such as Netflix and Hulu to take notice.

As a filmmaker, Cooke said he has found himself frustrated with how black people are often portrayed. He said he wanted to do something that was unique and shows what happens if society’s ills are not resolved.

“I wanted to shoot something people don’t see a lot of,” he said. “This is a non-traditional story that shows us in a different light. I think how this family is portrayed on a level people (will get excited about).”

Enthusiasm is brewing in his hometown about the project, and it is has not been lost on Cooke that the resources in Albany have helped him.

Projects such as the one he is working on stand to create an economic boom to whatever location they are taken to.

“This city has given me so much,” he said. “I would love to give back.”

The crew working on the project come from throughout the country, including Florida and New York. While in Albany, they managed to get a taste of Southern hospitality they say they have not seen in many other places.

“They don’t get out of Atlanta too much,” Cooke said.

Cooke got his start in television and music videos while living in Atlanta, the city he moved to from Albany at the age of 8. “Caper,” “Paper Friends,” “Love By Chance,” “Resonance,” “Proclamation Punctuation” and “Re-Up” are among the projects he has been involved in.

For “Freeman Hospitality,” Steven C. Pitts is working as cinematographer, Blayne Parker as assistant director, Aimee Mann is producer/production manager and Errol Sadler is the producer representing Supremacy Films.

For more information on Cooke and his projects, visit www.mikecooke.tv.

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Staff Writer

I'm a 2007 graduate of Georgia Southern University, and I've been a reporter for The Albany Herald since 2008. I cover news related to health care, Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, SOWEGA Council on Aging and other areas as assigned.

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