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August 2020
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Burnt Mountain used for indie filming location

“It’s one of my favorite places,” director says



Photo / Bryan Tan

The director of “Ends” selected Tate Mountain Estates on Burnt Mountain for its natural, isolated beauty and relationship to themes in the film. 


        Even though he’s never lived there, David Tabor has spent countless hours on Burnt Mountain inside the Tate Mountain Estates community. 

“I’ve spent so much time in that place and I fell in love with that world,” Tabor said, who used it as the sole filming location for his short  “Ends,” and who wants to use it and other areas in north Georgia for a full-length version called “Ends: Aliens & Old People.”

Tabor, now an Atlanta resident, grew up near Pickens County just across the Dawson line. In high school he met Tate Mountain Estates resident and musician Nigel Wright, and spent time with him and other friends at Wright’s home. He describes the landscape and community as natural, isolated, and “a place that when you step into it takes you somewhere else. It feels like it’s from the past, like you’re walking into a memory.” 

It’s exactly the kind of setting he wanted for “Ends,” his short film that deals with aging and end of life, love, trust, and mental illness  through the eyes of an 11-year-old girl on a trip to her ailing grandmother’s home. The young girl is left alone to navigate her grandmother’s illness, the problems the situation creates in her parents’ relationship, and supernatural forces at play.  

“Memories of going to my grandparents are some of the most textured I have,” Tabor said, “and that setting is very tonal and visual. It’s a very tactile and physical place.”

Filming for the short took a couple of days, and the process gave Tabor the confidence and inspiration to begin work on a full-length version. When the short was completed earlier this year he immediately began writing the script, which is finished. He also launched a successful Kickstarter campaign and raised over $10,000 to help fund the project. 

“All I’ve ever wanted to make were full-length films,” said Tabor, who knew filmmaking was his life’s ambition the summer after high school. “I thought I wanted to do music, but that fell apart and I realized it’s not actually where I was. It was film. I’d started making films with my G.I. Joes when I was six, and I got into it in high school with my video production class. After high school, I started associating myself with bands because I knew they wanted to be filmed.”

Tabor eventually met cinematographer Samuel Laubscher and worked on sets in some of Laubscher’s productions, then in 2012 worked in an official capacity in the Georgia film industry. Tabor also taught himself how to make movies in his personal time - he’d create test films with an old digital camera and every year he’d produce tedious stop-animation movies for Christmas to learn how to use the equipment. 

In 2015, he made it a personal goal to make a live action short film. It wasn’t long after that Laubscher told him he  had come across some 16 mm film and wanted to use it on something Tabor directed. That was the beginning of “Ends.” Laubscher had suggestions about themes and Tabor fleshed them out. “He had this idea about a young girl with science fiction and it went from there,” he said. “I wrote the script, even though it’s funny I’ve never considered writing my strong point.  But I like to try and approach ridiculous concepts in a grounded way.” 

Tabor is currently scouting locations in Pickens County and other areas in North Georgia for “Ends: Aliens & Old People,” which he wants to start filming in April 2018. He is also coordinating with cast members that appeared in the short, including Priah Ferguson who starred in Season 2 of “Stranger Things” and is spokesperson for United Way of Greater Atlanta. 

“I’d definitely want to shoot in that area again,” Tabor said. “It was a pleasure, and the talent stayed overnight at the Woodbridge Inn and really enjoyed it. It’s an ideal location for what we’re wanting to do.” 

Follow progress of “Ends: Aliens & Old People,” at or on Instagram