Filming in Culver a win for 'Savages' stars Hicks and Lomax

Editor's note: The stars (and crew) of "Little Savages," which filmed in Culver through the month of August, left town last weekend. We'll have more updates on filming, farewells, and what's next, but what follows are interviews with two of the stars, Noah Lomax and Adam Hicks.


Unlike many of his youthful "Little Savages" co-stars, 12 year old Noah Lomax may be more likely to be recognized by adult TV and movie viewers than youngsters, though "Savages," which wraps up at the end of this week, may change all that.

Lomax will share the screen with a number of young stars familiar to viewers of Disney Channel television shows and more youth-oriented movies, such as Kenton Duty (TV's "Shake it Up"), Katherine McNamara ("Kickin' It" on TV), and Aubrey Miller ("Austin & Ally"). Lomax may be best known for the more adult-oriented movies "Playing for Keeps" and "Safe Haven," besides appearances with his sister Maddie on AMC TV's hit zombie series, "The Walking Dead."

In fact, he was gratified recently when he was recognized on the street in Culver.

"Usually all the kids recognize all the Disney stars. Last night two college age girls recognized me and asked for a photo with me," he says.

Young Noah says he "just stumbled into" show business, as a result of attending a shopping mall event not far from their Atlanta home, centered on no longer current Disney Channel shows, with sister Maddie at his side. Asked if they wanted to try out for acting roles, the two decided to give it a try, says Noah's mother, Michelle, and eventually they found themselves working with a manager and agent.

That decision, four years ago, was entirely up to the children, says Michelle, who adds, "You can't make your kids do this!"

She was particularly surprised that Noah, the more shy, quiet of the two, was interested in performing, something she "never imagined."
According to Michelle Lomax, Bearfruit Films approached Noah's management with an offer around the same time he was auditioning for another film.

"The other one we were looking at had more of a gritty, dark feel," she says, adding they looked at the script of "Little Savages" and "liked the message of the story; and we liked that he could be with other kids (in the movie), which he's never done."

"This is my first kids' adventure movie," concurs Noah. "My character, Albie, is kind of a dorky kid. He's really shy and quiet but he doesn't make many friends. All he loves is science...towards the end he makes more friends and becomes cooler (and) more confident about himself."

That's in contrast to the real-life Noah Lomax, who enjoys a tackle football league at home, and has asked to be back in public school this fall, after having been home-schooled on-set between the middle of his 3rd grade year and now (he's entering the 6th grade). He notes he "might take a break to go to college after that and start back up again (in show business)."

"I feel like there's not lot of movies with a great message for kids," says Michelle, "but that's how this one ('Little Savages') is. It has good messages about friendship and being different."

One thing many in Culver who have taken part in "Little Savages" as extras may have noticed is the amount of waiting around involved in movie-making, something which might leave some youngsters bored. Noah Lomax, however, has never complained of boredom, and instead peppers the filmmakers and crew with questions -- something which didn't start with this movie and which has his mother wondering if his long-term future might be more behind the cameras than in front.

"It's cute because sometimes he will pick up on things -- inconsistencies, things you only learn from being on set," Michelle smiles.

She acknowledges that sometimes the demands of the children's show business careers can be taxing.

"There are times I'm begging them to quit," she says. "It can be hard on the family; you have to separate at times, but my husband and daughter are coming (to Culver). We try not to go without seeing each other for more than two or three weeks."

So far, the predominant theme among the young stars of "Savages" as regards their time in Culver has been enjoying watersports on Lake Maxinkuckee, and Noah Lomax is no exception. But he says he also likes "the small town -- everything's so close and everybody's nice."

And, he says, referring to an opinion shared by many in Culver regarding the Original Root Beer Stand, "They have great root beer! It's the best drink ever, and best with a hot dog!"

His greatest frustration, though, is being too young to drive a golf cart on Culver's streets.

However, he's "not been bored at all. Usually when I go to different towns I get bored and have to bring toys or action figures -- things like that, to entertain myself. Here I can just go to the lake and beach and swim when I'm not in school, or go tubing."

His mother echoes Noah's sentiments regarding the helpfulness and friendliness of Culver, and she's happy her son has made "some great friends" out of his four weeks here.

"I think Culver will be very proud of this movie," she adds. "After this movie, people will go, 'I've heard of Culver, Indiana.' They'll neat a town this is, and they'll come and see the lake.

"It's a great town," she says. "And not just because of the Academy, but because of the people."


At age 20, Adam Hicks is the eldest of the "kid" stars of "Little Savages," and while he acknowledges it took a bit of adjustment to adapt to virtually everything in Culver shutting down by 9 p.m., don't assume he and the teen stars of the movie shooting in Culver through the end of this week have been bored or unhappy here, even though he admits, "I feel like I've done everything in Culver that's possible!

"This is a cool experience, being in a small town, “adds Hicks, who's had starring roles in movies like "How to Eat Fried Worms," "Lemonade Mouth," and Disney shows like "Pair of Kings." "I'm usually filming in claustrophobic cities. It's a different experience coming out here with all the 1,200 people of Culver!"

Adam Hicks grew up in Las Vegas and has never been to Indiana before, though he has cousins here he finally had a chance to meet. In Vegas, he notes, "everything is open 24-7. There's a constant 'Go, go, go.' And out here, everything is so green!"

In "Savages," he plays the prominent role of Billy Bronson, a bully who torments young Noah Lomax's lead character, Albie.

His character, however, "has a good heart," and is also responding to his relationship with his father, played by comedian Jamie Kennedy, as "a mean guy. You know how the story goes at home.

"So he's on this scavenger hunt race, kind of manipulating the little Savages (a fictional Culver family) and trying to get the treasure.

"I feel like the ending is a good twist for my character," he continues. "Years ago in 'How to Eat Fried Worms,' I played a bully but there was no turning point for me -- people just hated me. This is more internal, which I thought was kind of cool."

Hicks, who says he's been with the Disney company for around four years, explains he received a call from his manager that Bearfruit Films had an offer.

He says he liked the script, had some time off from other projects, and, "I thought it would be a cool experience going to Indiana." The three or four weeks of shooting here is also considerably shorter than the duration of most movie shoots.

Hicks also says the movie boasts a "great cast."

"Everyone is from everywhere; the cast is from all across America. (Co-star) Kenton Duty is on (the Disney TV show) 'Shake it Up.' I had seen him a couple of times, but we'd never hung out before."

During his time in Culver, Hicks has had a great time with other cast members "doing a lot of water sports," such as jet skiing and a new experience for him, wake surfing (a part of Culver watersports for several years now, in which the "surfer" is pulled along behind a speedboat, riding the wave created by its wake).

"I'm getting my exercise in," he adds, "The most I've had in years."
He also notes he and his castmates have enjoyed playing basketball at Culver Academies after hours.

"I flew my brother out here, and he doesn't travel, ever; he's a Vegas baby, born and raised. He came (to Culver)...and once he hit the lake, he was sad to leave."

Hicks says his favorite aspect of shooting "Little Savages" here is "interacting with all these people, who are so in love with the fact that we're making a movie in Culver. You realize you're doing it more than just to do it. It's a new experience for me as an actor. It's not just the producers (from Bearfruit Films); it's like all of Culver is helping out. I can't even walk down the street without someone honking and waving. Culver is really behind this movie!"