Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hollywood comes to Marianna! Jackson County to double for Arkansas in new Horror Movie!

Russ House & Visitor Center
Marianna, Florida
UPDATE:  Day 2 Filming brings Stars

The prehistoric sharks are coming to Jackson County!

Marianna and Jackson County have been named as the film location for the new action/horror movie, "Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre."

Directed by Jim Wynorski - best known for such horror and science fiction films as "Not of this Earth" and "Dynocroc vs. Supergator" - the movie is the latest in shark-related projects to enter production since the unexpected and phenomenal success of the low budget horror flick, "Sharknado."

Merritt's Mill Pond
According to the film's website ( the movie brings the shark horror genre to a whole new level by having sharks hunt their victims from just beneath the earth's surface. In this case, a "fracking" accident creates a crack in the earth that unleashes a swarm of monster prehistoric sharks from an ocean buried deep in the earth. The sharks just happen to pop to the surface around a prison for women in Arkansas, hence the title "Sharkansas Womens Prison Massacre."

The film is not likely to win any Academy Awards, but it does represent solid progress in the Jackson County Tourist Development Council's efforts to promote the area as a location for the movie industry. According to TDC Director Pam Swift Fuqua, representatives from two different film companies have visited the county since early December and her office has received email questions from numerous other movie and television production firms.

Florida Caverns State Park
The film industry database website already lists "Marianna, Florida" as the production location for "Sharkansas" and indicates the film has a budget of around $600,000.  While very modest in terms of movie production budgets, the money will have a significant economic impact on Marianna and Jackson County.

Tens of thousands of dollars are being spent locally for hotel rooms, supplies, food and services. According to Fuqua, Madison's Warehouse Restaurant on Madison Street in Marianna has landed catering services for the film and will be supplying its award-winning local cuisine to the various film locations throughout this month. She also indicated that the filmmakers are renting boats and other services from Cave Adventurers, the diving and boat company that operates on Merritt's Mill Pond. "They even needed local banking services," she noted.

Blue Springs
The director had visited Marianna and Jackson County several times in December scouting locations before selecting the area to begin immediate production. Locations he is known to have visited include Florida Caverns State Park, Blue Springs Recreational Area, Merritt's Mill Pond and the historic Russ House.

"Sharkansas" is the second full-length movie to be filmed in Marianna and Jackson County. The 1989 film "The Spring" was filmed in part at Florida Caverns State Park. It tells the story of two archaeologists searching for Ponce de Leon's lost Fountain of Youth.

TDC Director Fuqua hints that further projects may be in the works. "The efforts are coming to fruition from all angles," she said, noting that the TDC has been engaged in an effort to promote Jackson County, its people, scenery, resources and businesses across the state and nation. 

Crystal Clear Spring in Jackson County
The movie announcement comes just months after Fuqua and the TDC launched their new website,, and following a series of meetings and conversations with state officials.

"The response from the producers has been absolutely phenomenal," Fuqua said. "Everyone thinks Florida is just palm trees, but up here we have a great variety of resources.” It was those resources - caves, crystal clear water for filming underwater scenes, friendly people and availability of affordable hotels and services - that brought the movie and its hundreds of thousands of dollars in economic impact to Jackson County.

Chris Hawthorne, Park Manager at Florida Caverns State Park, has been heavily involved in arranging filming locations for "Sharkansas."  Edd Sorenson of Cave Adventurers took film crews to survey locations around Merritt's Mill Pond and is providing additional help as well. Chuck Hatcher, Jackson County Parks Director, is assisting with locations at Blue Springs.

The actors and production crews are expected to be in the area through the 28th of this month.



Anonymous said...

My family loves these movies. Can't wait to see Jackson County in this one! Hope you will keep us all posted.

Anonymous said...

My family loves these movies. Can't wait to see Jackson County in this one! Thanks for keeping us all posted.

DeAndre Armstrong said...

Just because it's a Shark related cheesy horror movie I'm going to watch it....being filmed partially in Jackson County?...I must own this!

DeAndre Armstrong said...

Cheesy shark movie being filmed in Jackson County?....oh this is made of WIN!!! Can't wait to see this.

Dale Cox said...

I suspect it will be very cheesy! I'll keep everyone up to date on it as it goes.

Anonymous said...

Really? It's soft porn...

Dale Cox said...

No offense, but I don't think PG-13 qualifies as "soft porn." The contract with the state for filming at the Caverns specified that it could have no worse than a PG-13 rating. That's the same rating as Titanic, The Hunger Games and Jurassic Park.

I doubt it will be of the quality of any of those, but it can't show anything worse.