A pair of local filmmakers hope to unravel truth from fiction regarding a fabled Statesboro building.
Brian Graves, a communications professor at Georgia Southern University, and Jake Taylor, a college senior, unveiled a project Monday that attempts to address the somewhat mysterious history of the long-abandoned meat packing plant on Packinghouse Road.
The duo presented a 20-minute film, titled “The Packing House,” to members of the Bulloch County Historical Society during a group meeting at RJ’s Steakery.
“This piece is about the packing house here in Statesboro, which has become the stuff of local legend and ghost stories, particularly among Georgia Southern students,” Graves said. “The purpose of our documentary is to get behind the myths and ghost stories and find out the truth about what this place was.”
To accomplish their goal, Graves and Taylor weave together interviews with local historians, including several Georgia Southern professors, and use information from snippets of area newspapers.
The film reveals that while the century-old site certainly owns an intriguing past, its history is likely not filled with the fires and ghouls generally associated with it. Rumors persist in the community, especially among Georgia Southern students, that the “haunted” plant was once set ablaze by its owner with workers locked inside.
“What we found was that in many ways, the truth is more fascinating than the myths and stories,” Graves said.
Rather than ghosts, the documentary recounts the history of a failed enterprise.
Families paid thousands of dollars to start a new industry in Bulloch County, only to see their dreams, not the building, burn, according to the film.
The movie — still a work in progress, the producers said — also takes viewers on a tour of the abandoned building and provides a glimpse into how the plant once operated.
Presenting the movie to the historical society provided Graves and Taylor an opportunity to learn more about the facility from local people, and possibly build upon their work.
“You guys are a test audience. I would really love it if you could provide feedback, suggestions, and content. We’d love more info,” Graves said to the group. “We could really use more interviews with local people and anyone who has any knowledge of this place.”
Anyone with information about the history of the packing house, who might be willing to be interviewed, is invited to contact Graves by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The director, who last year was awarded the prize of “Best Film” at the Statesboro Film Festival for his piece “Save As…,” said he hopes to submit “The Packing House” to Georgia Public Broadcasting and other PBS affiliates for broadcast consideration.
“We might also submit the piece to regional film festivals,” he said. “The primary and immediate goal, however, is to expand the film and develop a more fully formed, professional and accurate documentary that tells a good story.”
Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.