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THOMASVILLE — Production of an upcoming feature film will begin in Thomasville within the next three weeks.

"The Tiger Rising," an upcoming adventure film based on the 2001 New York Times bestselling children's book by Kate DiCamillo, will star Queen Latifah and Dennis Quaid.

The film, which also stars Luke Roessler and Madalen Mills, is directed by Ray Giarratana, who previously served as a visual effects supervisor on "Godzilla: King of the Monsters."

Thomasville Pictures, which is handling the film's production, currently has between 50-60 employees headquartered on Broad Street determining the logistics for locations where the film will be shot. That number is expected to swell within the next several weeks as more than 200 cast and crew members come to town.

"It's going to be a very, very big operation," said Allen Cheney, the film's producer. "We're going to have a couple hundred people, we're going to have lots of big trucks and all kinds of stuff in town. It's going to be exciting."

More than 800 applicants responded to a casting call by Thomasville Pictures for individuals of all ages, with particular emphasis on school-aged children between the ages of 9-15, to play extras. The submissions Thomasville Pictures received were from all across the state.

Several dozen applicants will be selected to serve as extras in the film. Those interested in becoming extras can email castingtigerrising@gmail.com.

"The Tiger Rising" will tell the story of a young boy named Rob (Roessler) who lost his mother and is now living in a rural motel.

Rob and his friend Sistine (Mills) journey into the woods where they discover a caged tiger held captive by Beauchamp (Quaid), the mean-spirited motel owner. The two children are helped along the way by Willie May (Latifah), a wise and mysterious maid.

"Ultimately it's the story about this young boy finding himself and expressing himself while he and his friend go on this adventure with a tiger," Cheney said.

The movie's production is the culmination of a team of filmmakers from southwest Georgia attempting to create a project in Thomasville.

Cheney, himself a Thomasville native, started Thomasville Pictures about a year and a half ago.

"Its been my goal for a few years now to really try to build a possible industry in town," he said.

As work began on "The Tiger Rising" project, Cheney advocated that the film be made in Thomasville.

To build his case, Cheney brought a film scouting team to Thomasville last year.

"They loved the visuals, they loved the town, everything," he said.

No date has been finalized for when "The Tiger Rising" hits theaters.

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