Candy Shop not at all sweet but still a fulfilling Project for Whitestone Motion Pictures

Brandon McCormick has directed several award winning short films and created a body of work that is unique and challenging. Many of his films use fairy tale elements and rely on traditional story motifs.

CinemATL first caught up with Brandon and his team in 2007 when we first saw the trailer for his then current film Alabaster. He’s gone on to make many other short films in the time since.
Of those films, his latest has a message that deals specifically with a startling topic that hits home here in Atlanta. Although it may sound incongruent with the “city to busy to hate”; child sex trafficking has flooded Atlanta. It has become the number one city in America with nearly 500 girls a month trafficked for sex in the metro area. Whitestone Motion Pictures and Brandon hope to spark awareness and provoke action to aid in preventing this trend with its latest film, The Candy Shop.
The Candy Shop follows a young boy who sells newspapers to support his family during the depression. However, as he discovers something amiss in the nearby candy shop, he must make a choice of whether to continue to help his family with his work or holding on to his soul.
Doug Jones (Pan’s Labyrinth, HellBoy) stars as the Candy Shop owner in this original film produced in conjunction with the Doorpost Film Project.  
I asked Brandon some questions about Whitestone and his latest film. 


1.      Tell us a little about your current film, The Candy Shop. What is it about?

The Candy Shop is a fairytale about the sexual exploitation of children. It’s a film that we believe hasn’t really been attempted, a parable of this kind with this subject matter. It is a 30 minute short film that we premiered at the Fox Theatre here in Atlanta and have partnered with an organization called Street Grace in order to help put a stop to child sex trafficking here in our city.

2.      What made you decide to take on this subject matter?

I found out that Atlanta is among the top cities in the country for the sexual trafficking of children. Approximately 500 girls a month are sold for sex in our city. This information was staggering to me, I asked myself how could something so horrid still exist today, and in America? At Whitestone, we decided we had to do something, so we started working on a unique story told in our style that would not only get the word out, but also push people towards meaningful action. This is why we made the film, and ultimately we want our community to go to and get involved to stop this epidemic in our city.

3.      In Candy Shop you work with veteran Actor Doug Jones, how was it working on an indie project with an actor with such a wide assortment of experience on large studio films?

Quite honestly, it was a dream come true. I’m quite the fanboy of Doug Jones, and I never would have guessed that I would get a chance to direct someone who has been a part of films that have been so influential to me. I am not speaking in hyperbole when I say that Doug is one of the kindest, thoughtful and talented people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. The experience of working with him has taught me much as a filmmaker, but he has also inspired me as a person and an artist.

4.      We featured you and your team in CinemATL a number of years ago when you had completed your film Alabaster.  At that time you were hoping to do a feature film. You have completed quite a slate of impressive short films since that time. Which of those was your favorite production and why haven’t you pursued a feature film as yet?

Well, we consider our shorts to be a form of ‘practice’ for our feature film. We develop our craft and try out new things in a short form that can be a little more forgiving than a larger feature undertaking. I have to say that The Candy Shop has to be my favorite production, since I’ve wanted to work on this piece for about 3 years. Tied in a close second would be Heartless and That’s Magic. Those little films will always have a special place in my heart as they were joys to make and still provide fond memories of the struggle to put them together.

5.      Many of your films deal with magical realism or fantasy, is that an area you see yourself perpetually exploring in your work?

I have always been in love with the world of the fantastic. I think that I wouldn’t want to preclude myself to that genre only; however fairytales and myths are things that I resonate with deeply. I love working with that medium and I feel that it’s a space where I can say things that are in me without coming off as didactic or heavy handed, although some will disagree with that sentiment. There are many stories that we want to tell at Whitestone, but almost all of them will have something in the fantastic about them.

6.      Now for the ubiquitous question, what’s on the Horizon for you and Whitestone Motion Pictures?

Oh the wild and uncertain winds of the future. We have made some decisions as a company that set our sites on the feature film next. We feel that we have worked the craft in the short film world as far as we can and now are ready for the next step. We will continue to develop short films in the meantime, but we are now in development for our feature, with a goal of being in principal photography by 2012. All signs now point to a feature, and we won’t be stopped. I can’t say much about what it is, but take the Civil War, Appalachian Folklore, A ghost story in the vein of Charles Dickens and put them in a shaker with Whitestone’s style and voice. What tumbles out may be something really special, and will be our very first feature film.