While there were some aspects of John Paul Kakos’ feature-film debut that weren’t at all difficult to navigate, the Gwinnett County native had no lack of willing and eager coaches to help him through the more onerous portions of the process.
Just a few months after his graduation from Mountain View High School in 2017, Kakos was cast in the lead role in the faith-based baseball drama “Full Count,” which is set for theatrical and video-on-demand release on Oct. 25.
Written and directed by Robert Eagar, “Full Count” relates the story of a young pitcher who uses a college scholarship to escape his unhappy life on the family farm but who ultimately must return home to face a host of emotional hardships.
Kakos – who is currently on location in Gainesville, Fla., working in the drama “Portrait of a Young Man” – said that because of his baseball background, he felt confident on the cinematic mound. Baseball scenes were filmed at Mountain View, where he played first base for the Bears while in school.
“It was crazy to get the role of a pitching star and I was able to go back to my school and pitch on the mound I’d never been able to pitch on, because I played first base,” he said. “I didn’t worry too much about the baseball part – I just tried to get it over the plate in the pitching scene. It was really fun. We played a real game while they filmed us.”
Away from the diamond, Kakos said he was greatly aided in his acting approach by his co-stars Natalia Livingston and Jason London (who play his parents), and Rick Hearst and Robert Pralgo.
“Natalia and Jason both really helped me and guided me through the film,” said Kakos, who previously had worked on a few short films and television productions. “They gave me little tips and tricks here and there. We’d meet in rehearsals and Natalia would help me with scenes and helped shape my character. Now I go to her acting classes.
“Another guy in the film, Rick Hearst, who plays a cop, I take acting classes with him as well. And Robert Pralga, who plays the doctor, I take his acting classes monthly. I’ve made some of the best connections I could ever imagine with this movie. I learned more and more every day on set and more and more from the people on set to this day. It’s been a real blessing.”
Although Kakos said he has not viewed the finished version of “Full Count,” which in early August picked up a distribution deal with Vertical Entertainment, he said he’s happy with what he did see.
“I haven’t seen the complete product but I’ve seen rough cuts,” he said. “I was pleased with it. I think it’s just a great all-around film, very heartwarming when it shows how my character overcomes struggles. I really loved it.”
Since completing “Full Count,” Kakos – who said his name was not inspired by two of the Beatles or two Popes – worked on a suspense-drama called “Brief Candle” and said when he finishes work on “Portrait of a Young Man,” he’ll begin work on a film called “Help Wanted.”
Kakos, whose own dreams of a college baseball career were derailed by a recurring shoulder injury (he’s been taking online classes at Kennesaw State), said that even though he’d done some acting before “Full Count,” he did not realize how intrigued he was by show biz.
“I never really thought about acting again until I got the audition for ‘Full Count,’” said the son of Tracy and Paul Kakos of Lawrenceville. “Once I landed that and got that experience, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I got that bug, so I want to be doing this for the rest of my life. I feel very blessed – this experience happened out of the blue and if I had not hurt my shoulder again, this might not have come about.”
For more information, visit www.fullcountmovie.com.