During late July and early August of last summer, our little Sun City community had a lot of excitement! Georgia has become one of the top filming locations in the country, and the latest Diane Keaton movie landed on location right here. “POMS,” written by Shane Atkinson and directed by Zara Hayes opens in theaters on May 10.
In the early days of the movie’s inception, this was the official description: “45 minutes outside of Phoenix lies a retirement community. A place where palm trees line the streets, the skies are always clear and the “taxi” (ambulance) drives by two or three times a day – a final destination for retirees. This is the story of America’s first cheer-leading squad for women aged 60.
Phoenix and palm trees were eventually dropped for Georgia, and Sun City Peachtree became “Sun Springs,” the community where Diane Keaton comes to “die.” She is joined in the film by Jacki Weaver, Rhea Perlman, Celia Weston, Pam Grier, Alisha Boe, Bruce McGill, and more.
A Georgia-based casting company was used to hire all the extras, and us residents had first crack at applying for the roles. If you see the movie, almost all of the extras in the retirement community scenes are either our friends, neighbors, or fellow Sun City residents in a community that was less than 2,000 residents at the time.
In addition, the house scenes were all filmed in the homes of residents who applied to have their houses used in the movie.
I was originally cast to be a water aerobics instructor; however, after jumping through a bunch of hoops, the scene got canceled. As a matter of fact, an entire day of filming (and numerous committed extras) got cut. Putting two and two together, I quickly surmised as to why that happened: budget. Just a guess.
That was just one of many scheduling changes that took place each day. Suffice it to say the entire three weeks of filming here could be summed up in one word: chaos.
Having said that, there were a lot of fun moments here as well. Bruce was cast as a “gym goer” and was filmed for a scene out front of our recreation center where Bruce McGill and Celia Weston pass by in a golf cart.
In the gym scene, Bruce walks by in the background for a scene that included our actress friend who lives around the corner from us. Karen Beyer has a speaking role in the movie, and she appears briefly in the trailer.
Although it was a long and boring day for Bruce, I enjoyed hanging out and watching the filming.
The only scene I may appear in is when the crew filmed a resident tai chi class. Evidently, the footage the crew shot of “real” residents will be used for a “Day in the Life of Sun Springs” montage that Diane Keaton’s character watches at the sales center, when she is considering moving to “Sun Springs.”
One thing for sure: Diane Keaton was really nice to the residents here! When she wasn’t filming, she posed for pictures with anybody who asked. Right before I was photographed with Diane, a lady on the way to the pool with her grand kids asked Diane she could take her picture. Diane responded, “Only if you are all in it with me!” Diane asked her assistant to take the picture for them and then did the same for me. In this shot, Diane turned to me and said, “Oh f*@#! He took the picture when I wasn’t ready!” That’s why I’m cracking up!
At the funeral scene (see the trailer; it’s a hoot!), I had the opportunity to chat a little with Diane Keaton, and she was quite friendly. It was very hot that day, though, so she spent most of her time between shoots in her air conditioned limo.
The “grunts” of the film crew were also friendly. We could see as the filming progressed over the three weeks, however, that they were stressed, exhausted, and ready for the film to wrap!
Our HOA ended up with $35,000 for allowing the crew to film onsite, and the experience gave us all a lot to talk about! We are looking forward to a big screening party here when the movie is released. Whether the movie is a hit or bombs out, it sure will be fun watching all our friends on the screen!