SWHS grad carves path to thriving film career

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By BRIAN BOHNERT
SENIOR STAFF WRITER

Nathan Hammer’s acting career began with a terror-fueled run through a war-torn Metropolis in last summer’s big screen blockbuster, “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
Since then, the Fostoria native has been busy turning his love of the silver screen into a full-fledged career, carving a path in the film and television industry through his own production company.
Hammer, a 2011 graduate of St. Wendelin High School, has spent the past two years deeply immersed in the film/TV production industry, learning as much as he can about writing, directing and acting from the many creative minds he’s worked with along the way.
“When you’re on set, you’re on set for 16-hour days,” Hammer said. “I was talking to a lot of people and getting different perspectives, and one of the guys I connected with said the best way to go further in the business is to start creating your own projects.”
He recently launched his own production company, Chicken Coop Productions, under which he is writing, directing and starring in a number of upcoming original projects.
The name Chicken Coop Productions is a reference to the first home Hammer lived in as a child — a renovated chicken coop still standing today in Risingsun.
“It shows we all start small,” he said. “We all start somewhere and, more than likely, it’s a small area.”
His first project, “Precinct 69,” is a mockumentary-style comedy series about four police officers who work in a small town with the lowest crime rate in America. The format of the show is heavily inspired by popular TV hits such as “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.”
“It’s a comedy series, but it does have some inappropriate humor,” Hammer said, citing Judd Apatow (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Trainwreck”) as one of his main inspirations.
He released “Precinct 69” on YouTube shortly before Christmas last year. A day after its release, Hammer was contacted by online streaming service Always Late TV about a distribution deal.
“It was crazy to think about,” he said. “That was the first thing I had ever done.”
Hammer has also begun work on his first feature film, “For the Boys,” about a film student whose project about the daily life of the average college student takes a wild turn when he decides to follow around his three roommates.
The film, which Hammer has called a hybrid of “Project X” and “The Goonies,” will debut next year on Amazon Prime.
Much of the production of “For the Boys” has taken place on campus at both Terra State Community College and Ohio University, but Hammer said he’ll be returning to Fostoria next month to shoot an “explosive party scene.”
“Anything I’ve done has been in either Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh or Columbus. This is the first time I get to do something in my hometown,” he said. “I think it’s great.”
Hammer traces his interest in filmmaking back to his time as a student at Terra State, where he enrolled in a film studies course.
“I’ve always had a love of movies — watching the story progress,” he said. “I like watching them as art forms instead of just entertainment.”
When he was a child, he would watch his mother perform in on-stage productions of “My Fair Lady” and “A Christmas Carol” at the old Footlighters Theater on East South Street and the historic Ritz Theater in Tiffin.
His first opportunity in front of a camera came in response to a 2015 casting call for a couple hundred extras to appear in “Batman v. Superman” during a big action scene filmed in downtown Detroit.
“I just thought it’d be so cool to be in a movie,” he said.
His next role would be as an NYPD officer in the background of “The Fate of the Furious” starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham.
While his small appearances in the pair of big-budget epics were exciting, Hammer said one of his better roles as an extra was in the 2016 Sundance Film Festival nominee “The Land.”
“I didn’t get paid for it, but they were really hands-on with everyone who came and did it,” he said. “That’s the movie where I learned a lot about writing, directing and acting.”
This fall, Hammer can be seen sharing the screen with Anne Heche and Disney Channel alum Ross Lynch in the biopic “My Friend Dahmer” about the early life of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. He will also earn his first credit as a supporting actor in the upcoming Amazon Prime project “Beginnings.”
“I didn’t go to school for this kind of thing and I didn’t act in any plays or musicals in high school,” he said. “This came from hard work, getting first-hand knowledge and not being afraid of getting shooed away when digging for more information.”
To donate to Chicken Coop Productions, or to learn more about Hammer’s upcoming projects, visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/chicken-coop-productions-college#/.

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