By: Paige Havens | Gwinnett Citizen
Published: 2017-10-16 01:40
John Paul Kakos

By Paige Havens | Gwinnett Citizen Correspondent

In the spring of 2017, when John Paul Kakos walked off the Mountain View High School baseball field for the last time as a senior, it was a bittersweet moment. It was the end of his baseball career and the start of a new chapter in his life. John Paul had dreamed of playing baseball in college and beyond, but several shoulder injuries caused him to rethink his path.

As John Paul made plans to attend Kennesaw State University to pursue his college education, he thought he’d revisit an old interest, acting, to help earn some money for college. In middle school, John Paul had dabbled in acting and won a few bit parts in some short films and television shows, but his love of sports pushed that aside in high school. John Paul reached out and rekindled some industry connections and stumbled on a role he couldn’t be more suited for. 

It was an independent, faith-based film called Full Count. The story follows a high school phenom pitcher, Milton Young, who has visions of going to college and breaking free from the family business. After being accepted to the state university, Milton is struck with a series of life-changing events that cause him to give up his dream of playing professional baseball and return home to the town he fought hard to escape. What emerges is a heartwarming story of perseverance, faith, and triumph. 

John Paul Kakos (center) stands proudly with his mom, Tracy; sister, Lauren; and dad, Paul as they support him on set at Mountain View High School. The family is wearing the official Full Count Movie production t-shirts with the #8 in memory of John Paul’s uncle who was a big mentor in his life.John Paul Kakos (center) stands proudly with his mom, Tracy; sister, Lauren; and dad, Paul as they support him on set at Mountain View High School. The family is wearing the official Full Count Movie production t-shirts with the #8 in memory of John Paul’s uncle who was a big mentor in his life.John Paul says, “It was the perfect role for me. The casting call was for an 18-year old high school student that had played baseball. I had to go for it.” So, with no previous feature film experience, he jumped in and auditioned for the lead role. John Paul submitted a video audition tape and was called in for two additional auditions. He was beyond excited when he got the call that he was selected for the part. He couldn’t help but think it was fate.

The script was penned by first-time writer/director Robert Eager from the Atlanta-based Buckhead Film Group, who said, “Many advised me against hiring a lead with no experience, but I loved John Paul’s audition. He had the look I wanted and a great presence on camera. I took a big gamble on him, and I didn’t regret it. John Paul is so humble, and he’s one of the hardest working people on the set. He’s got a wonderful future ahead of him.”

Producer Bennie Swint of Reel One Entertainment shared, “It’s been so great to watch John Paul. He walked on a young, naïve kid. But every day he comes to the set on time and ready. He knows his lines and is eager to learn.” Swint continued, “John Paul has had a rare opportunity to work every day with experienced actors. Some Emmy award winners. He’s had a chance to listen and learn from them every day. He’s been blessed for this to be his first project – to have this kind of support around him. This rarely happens. You can’t ask for a stronger start to your career than this.” Swint said proudly, “As a producer, it’s so cool to realize we are growing him. Changing his life. It’s amazing to watch it right before your eyes.”

John Paul Kakos takes direction from Full Count film director Robert Eager as the crew preps in the background for the next scene.John Paul Kakos takes direction from Full Count film director Robert Eager as the crew preps in the background for the next scene.Kakos’ castmates included seasoned professionals like Natalia Livingston, Rick Hearst, Jason London, Robert Pralgo, E. Roger Mitchell, Victoria Staley, Vince Canlas, Robert Gresham and others. Several own their own acting studios and teach aspiring actors. John Paul said they helped him a lot because they would stop and offer him tips to make his scenes better. He said one of the biggest challenges for him was “bringing a character to life in situations I’ve never personally been in.”

Kakos enjoyed filming in various locations across Georgia – Macon, LaGrange, Watkinsville, and Gwinnett - but his favorite was coming home to Mountain View to spotlight his home turf. John Paul was even more thrilled when Eager and the production team suggested they include some of his old teammates and coach as extras. Mountain View Baseball Coach Jason Johnson was full of pride when asked what it was like to be a part of the film with John Paul. He said, “It’s special to me and for the entire Mountain View family to have John Paul represent us. We preach to our players that it’s all about character, about being a good person. Everyone’s sports careers come to an end, so it should never be all about sports. John Paul has lived that and there couldn’t be a more perfect movie for him to star in.”
When asked if being involved in a faith-based film has helped him grow in his faith, John Paul shared, “There are a lot of scriptures embedded in the plot line and script. As I studied my lines, I took time to look each one up and put them in perspective, to get to the meaning of the message. Doing that makes you think about how it applies to your own life too.”

John Paul Kakos (center in green) stands on set flanked by fellow Mountain View teammates and cast members as they prepare to shoot a scene in the Bears’ dugout.John Paul Kakos (center in green) stands on set flanked by fellow Mountain View teammates and cast members as they prepare to shoot a scene in the Bears’ dugout.Ironically, so much of the film’s message does apply to Kakos’ life. There’s even a hidden character watching over him that most will never know. John Paul’s Uncle Mark was a professional baseball player for the Philadelphia Phillies, and he was John Paul’s role model. Mark died of cancer four years ago. When the filmmakers asked John Paul what jersey number he wanted to wear he said number 8 – his Uncle Mark’s number. When they learned the story, the entire cast and crew wore the number 8 on their shirts too. John Paul wore his Uncle Mark’s jeans in the farming scenes, and Mark’s jersey hung in his bedroom on the set. John Paul’s grandmother, Helen Pottinger said, “I have no doubt Mark’s been here with John Paul through all of this.”

John Paul Kakos in action on the set at Mountain View High School’s baseball field.John Paul Kakos in action on the set at Mountain View High School’s baseball field.Full Count is an inspired film that is driven by the unrelenting passion, perseverance, and faith of so many on the set. The film has been 16 years in the making. Robert Eager wrote the first draft of the Full Count script in 2001 as part of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Project Greenlight. He was one of 1800 submissions that year, and he got great feedback on the script from some of the industry’s best. He took that feedback and built upon it. As he was rallying funds for production, the financial market crashed. Eager had to put the project on hold until the market corrected. This filmmaking journey has pushed Eager, John Paul and many others involved to live the very message of the script – to have

By Paige Havens | Gwinnett Citizen Correspondent

In the spring of 2017, when John Paul Kakos walked off the Mountain View High School baseball field for the last time as a senior, it was a bittersweet moment. It was the end of his baseball career and the start of a new chapter in his life. John Paul had dreamed of playing baseball in college and beyond, but several shoulder injuries caused him to rethink his path.

As John Paul made plans to attend Kennesaw State University to pursue his college education, he thought he’d revisit an old interest, acting, to help earn some money for college. In middle school, John Paul had dabbled in acting and won a few bit parts in some short films and television shows, but his love of sports pushed that aside in high school. John Paul reached out and rekindled some industry connections and stumbled on a role he couldn’t be more suited for. 

It was an independent, faith-based film called Full Count. The story follows a high school phenom pitcher, Milton Young, who has visions of going to college and breaking free from the family business. After being accepted to the state university, Milton is struck with a series of life-changing events that cause him to give up his dream of playing professional baseball and return home to the town he fought hard to escape. What emerges is a heartwarming story of perseverance, faith, and triumph. 

John Paul Kakos (center) stands proudly with his mom, Tracy; sister, Lauren; and dad, Paul as they support him on set at Mountain View High School. The family is wearing the official Full Count Movie production t-shirts with the #8 in memory of John Paul’s uncle who was a big mentor in his life.John Paul Kakos (center) stands proudly with his mom, Tracy; sister, Lauren; and dad, Paul as they support him on set at Mountain View High School. The family is wearing the official Full Count Movie production t-shirts with the #8 in memory of John Paul’s uncle who was a big mentor in his life.John Paul says, “It was the perfect role for me. The casting call was for an 18-year old high school student that had played baseball. I had to go for it.” So, with no previous feature film experience, he jumped in and auditioned for the lead role. John Paul submitted a video audition tape and was called in for two additional auditions. He was beyond excited when he got the call that he was selected for the part. He couldn’t help but think it was fate.

The script was penned by first-time writer/director Robert Eager from the Atlanta-based Buckhead Film Group, who said, “Many advised me against hiring a lead with no experience, but I loved John Paul’s audition. He had the look I wanted and a great presence on camera. I took a big gamble on him, and I didn’t regret it. John Paul is so humble, and he’s one of the hardest working people on the set. He’s got a wonderful future ahead of him.”

Producer Bennie Swint of Reel One Entertainment shared, “It’s been so great to watch John Paul. He walked on a young, naïve kid. But every day he comes to the set on time and ready. He knows his lines and is eager to learn.” Swint continued, “John Paul has had a rare opportunity to work every day with experienced actors. Some Emmy award winners. He’s had a chance to listen and learn from them every day. He’s been blessed for this to be his first project – to have this kind of support around him. This rarely happens. You can’t ask for a stronger start to your career than this.” Swint said proudly, “As a producer, it’s so cool to realize we are growing him. Changing his life. It’s amazing to watch it right before your eyes.”

John Paul Kakos takes direction from Full Count film director Robert Eager as the crew preps in the background for the next scene.John Paul Kakos takes direction from Full Count film director Robert Eager as the crew preps in the background for the next scene.Kakos’ castmates included seasoned professionals like Natalia Livingston, Rick Hearst, Jason London, Robert Pralgo, E. Roger Mitchell, Victoria Staley, Vince Canlas, Robert Gresham and others. Several own their own acting studios and teach aspiring actors. John Paul said they helped him a lot because they would stop and offer him tips to make his scenes better. He said one of the biggest challenges for him was “bringing a character to life in situations I’ve never personally been in.”

Kakos enjoyed filming in various locations across Georgia – Macon, LaGrange, Watkinsville, and Gwinnett - but his favorite was coming home to Mountain View to spotlight his home turf. John Paul was even more thrilled when Eager and the production team suggested they include some of his old teammates and coach as extras. Mountain View Baseball Coach Jason Johnson was full of pride when asked what it was like to be a part of the film with John Paul. He said, “It’s special to me and for the entire Mountain View family to have John Paul represent us. We preach to our players that it’s all about character, about being a good person. Everyone’s sports careers come to an end, so it should never be all about sports. John Paul has lived that and there couldn’t be a more perfect movie for him to star in.”
When asked if being involved in a faith-based film has helped him grow in his faith, John Paul shared, “There are a lot of scriptures embedded in the plot line and script. As I studied my lines, I took time to look each one up and put them in perspective, to get to the meaning of the message. Doing that makes you think about how it applies to your own life too.”

John Paul Kakos (center in green) stands on set flanked by fellow Mountain View teammates and cast members as they prepare to shoot a scene in the Bears’ dugout.John Paul Kakos (center in green) stands on set flanked by fellow Mountain View teammates and cast members as they prepare to shoot a scene in the Bears’ dugout.Ironically, so much of the film’s message does apply to Kakos’ life. There’s even a hidden character watching over him that most will never know. John Paul’s Uncle Mark was a professional baseball player for the Philadelphia Phillies, and he was John Paul’s role model. Mark died of cancer four years ago. When the filmmakers asked John Paul what jersey number he wanted to wear he said number 8 – his Uncle Mark’s number. When they learned the story, the entire cast and crew wore the number 8 on their shirts too. John Paul wore his Uncle Mark’s jeans in the farming scenes, and Mark’s jersey hung in his bedroom on the set. John Paul’s grandmother, Helen Pottinger said, “I have no doubt Mark’s been here with John Paul through all of this.”

John Paul Kakos in action on the set at Mountain View High School’s baseball field.John Paul Kakos in action on the set at Mountain View High School’s baseball field.Full Count is an inspired film that is driven by the unrelenting passion, perseverance, and faith of so many on the set. The film has been 16 years in the making. Robert Eager wrote the first draft of the Full Count script in 2001 as part of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Project Greenlight. He was one of 1800 submissions that year, and he got great feedback on the script from some of the industry’s best. He took that feedback and built upon it. As he was rallying funds for production, the financial market crashed. Eager had to put the project on hold until the market corrected. This filmmaking journey has pushed Eager, John Paul and many others involved to live the very message of the script – to have hope, never to give up and never to let go of your dream.

Full Count is expected to be released in the spring of 2018. To keep up with the movie follow the Full Count Movie page on Facebook. The hometown crowd can follow John Paul on his personal social media pages via Facebook at John Paul Kakos and on Instagram and Twitter @ Johnny_Kakos. In the words of Bennie Swint, “We can’t wait to see what he does next.”