Scott Thigpen has always loved movies.
“When I was in grade school, Atlanta superstation WTBS showed old movies at 10 a.m. and again at 1 p.m. Going through the TV guide one day I noticed that two of my favorites were playing: “Double Indemnity” with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck, and “Maltese Falcon” starring Humphry Bogart,” Scotts recalls. “I faked a stomach ache to stay home from school so I could watch both.”
Scott doesn’t have to fake illness any more to see a movie. He makes them as a producer, director and chief operating officer of Atlanta’s Crazy Legs Productions.
He began his journey as an early enrollee in Georgia State’s film program. Back then there weren’t many internships or jobs available, so he called every film production company in the Atlanta Yellow Pages until the son of the owner one firm happened to answer the phone and confessed he was moving to Seattle and that Scott could have a job as a part-time production assistant. He worked that job until graduation, when he was promoted to fulltime associate producer.
“For a couple of years I covered sports like water skiing and offshore powerboat racing,” says Scott, who now lives in DeKalb County, where he was born and raised. “It was great training.”
Still, he wanted something more purpose-driven than the formula coverage of sports. Back to the phones and another lucky break. CARE was moving its headquarters to Atlanta from New York and was hiring to replace someone who didn’t want to make the move south. Scott got the job, and for more than 17 years produced documentaries about everything from poverty and marginalized populations to sustainable development. In his time with CARE he rose to director of advertising and media productions.
In 2011 he joined Crazy Legs Productions, where he is now chief operating officer. Georgia’s film and television production has come a long way since Scott picked up the Yellow Pages to find his first job.
“Everything’s expanded,” says Scott. “The bench of talent has deepened, so there are a lot more crew and actors available. It’s all here: Studios, vendors and services of all kinds
“Every day people are moving here to take advantage of the growth and opportunities. And the local talent is benefiting from the expansion.”
The global pandemic has disrupted but not stalled production. When the crisis hit, Crazy Legs was in post-production on a feature film expected to be released in the next few months. To keep everyone safe, Scott recruited an advisory board of medical experts to help establish guidelines for operations. One strategy was to select scripts that were “self-contained,” that is, requiring fewer cast members and crew, fewer filming locations.
Another creative initiative was to compile a list of actors who were married so when a script called for a married couple, the already married actors could fill the roles safely. Scott was assisted in this project by his wife, Jessica Fox Thigpen, who is one of Atlanta’s leading casting directors.
His goal to tell stories and keep people employed is working through more than a little ingenuity and effort, including the production of podcasts that eventually can be expanded to documentaries or feature films.
“I grew up thinking that making films was the only thing I could imagine myself doing,” says Scott. “And I’m doing just that.”