Special to the Opelika Observer

Doc Waller, an Opelika native and creative writer/producer of ‘Sweet Home,’ will soon produce a television series set in Alabama that will air in late spring or summer.
Described as part ‘Goodwill Hunting,’ part ‘Friday Night Lights’ and part ‘The Sandlot,’ ‘Sweet Home’ is a series that Waller said he hopes will resonate with stories of bold love, youthful mischief and personal triumph. He said he has a specific goal to make the production a homegrown experience from the ground up.
“I want every single person associated with the production to have a close-knit tie with the state of Alabama. I mean from the lead actress to the makeup artist to the people preparing our lunch each day,” Waller said. “No transplants. Having Hollywood studios bring their productions to our state is one thing, but actually developing a show that’s made up of the spirit and authenticity that only Alabamians can bring…is another biscuit altogether.”
Waller said he wants to take his unique approach even further and simultaneously produce a behind-the-scenes ‘Making of Sweet Home’ documentary series while shooting the scripted show. He plans to hold auditions and crew calls for the series in Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville, Montgomery and in his hometown of Opelika.
“I want to capture everything—every single detail. I want to capture what it’s like for a middle school teacher or bartender or construction worker to come out to an audition and surprise all their friends with some crazy talent they never knew they had,” Waller said. “I want to capture the beauty behind giving people rare creative opportunities that they may have never otherwise experienced. Then, just imagine what that means when the pilot gets picked up.”
No network has been selected for the series, as Waller explained that he wants to explore his options for a suitable platform.
“Netflix is a powerhouse. I get that,” Waller said. “But I’ve never been someone who sees only one path. In all honesty, I’ve had a vision of this series launching on Google Play or Youtube TV or some similar platform. If you step back and look at where media is going, you realize there are many players at the table.”
Waller, who will also direct the series, is in the early stages of finding interested investors and financiers to back the pilot episode of the series. With a $350,000 budget for the pilot episode, he said he is not looking to cut any corners.
“When I screen the pilot for network/platform execs, I want them to know I’m serious. I want to walk out of that meeting with a green light and a signed check to produce one to two full seasons of the show,” Waller said. “I can’t make that happen with anything less than an incredible pilot.”
While the added community-centered layers to the production will touch home, Waller said he believes the actual series will still be the thing that audiences will fall in love with most.
“Right now, I think television is the most dynamic, valuable medium where creators like myself can touch the heart of an audience. This series is going to make Alabamians proud and challenge (and) cultivate them at the same time,” Waller said. ”For the rest of the country, it’s long overdue that they get a fresh, modern peek into our stories and culture.”
Waller has an extensive background in the performing arts, having won awards as a stage performer before founding the East Alabama non-profit arts organization, The Layman Group. He is now based in Atlanta, Georgia, where he is developing his own multimedia company.
For more on his ‘Sweet Home’ series, visit www.sweethomeseries.com.