COVINGTON — After starring in a film created by Covington native Brian Swinehart, local Dennis Willoughby, also known as “Scooby,” is finding himself up for an award in Hollywood.
Out of 60 films and 150 eligible actors, Scooby was one of four actors to get nominated by the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge for Best Actor, which Swinehart described as a “huge accomplishment.”
“They are having a Golden Globes-style award show in Hollywood at United Talent Agency on Thursday,” Swinehart said.
With help from the local community, Scooby is headed to Los Angeles on Tuesday to participate in the awards ceremony for the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge, a challenge that the Covington duo entered in back in April.
Swinehart and Scooby received news of Scooby’s nomination last Thursday. Swinehart was not sure that Scooby would get to go to Los Angeles on such short notice, but Swinehart’s family started a Go Fund Me page to help pay for Scooby’s and his brother Nate’s travel expenses.
The Go Fund Me page can be found at https://bit.ly/2roa62q or by searching “Scooby is Hitting the Red Carpet!” on gofundme.com.
They have currently raised $1,625 of their $2,500 goal over the weekend.
In addition to heading to the red carpet for the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge, Swinehart and his team will also be filming Scooby’s trip.
“It feels really good. … It definitely gets my emotions going,” Swinehart said when asked about the impact of his film. “It’s overtaken all my thoughts.”
The impact of his film and of Scooby’s role in it have given Swinehart a positive mindset and also inspired him to do more positive film-making.
The reach of Swinehart’s film and Scooby’s role in the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge has also gone far outside of Covington.
“The responses I’ve gotten from people who don’t know Scooby have just been overwhelming,” Swinehart said. He noted how people connect to Scooby, saying, “The compassion that he has in the film just portrays who he is, and people have such a liking for it.”
For his third year participating in the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge, Swinehart — a filmaker, stand-up comedian, and actor —returned to his hometown to join forces with Scooby and other locals to help make a film in 48 hours.
Swinehart graduated from Covington High School in 1998 and spent two years at Edison State Community College before moving to Los Angeles and getting involved in the film-making and entertainment industry.
Swinehart explained the goal of the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge as helping to show those living with disabilities in a positive light and give them an opportunity to act in a short film. Swinehart then got the idea to work with Scooby after recently returning to the area while he was doing comedy shows. Scooby, who has Down syndrome, is known for being a supporter and fan of Covington Buccaneers.
The community also helped participate in the film, setting up a football game scene along with scenes at a local grocery store, Market Fresh Food. The short film was written and directed by Swinehart and edited by Ranson Karr. Matt Witherspoon was the director of photography. Other participants included Cody Ray Barrett, Pam Willoughby, Haley Hargrave, Susan Swinehart, Justin Fritts, Corey Turner, and Tyler Cates.
“Even in a small town, we can make art that affects people all over the world,” Swinehart said.
See the video, titled “The #1 Fan – 2018 Easterseals Disability Film Challenge Entry,” on Youtube at bit.ly/2HDPyMv.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org