Cream of the Crop

I wrote the screenplay, Cream of the Crop, with a subject in mind that is dear to my heart -  the preservation of family farmland for future generations.  The relationship that develops between the principal characters personifies the struggle that faces so many farm families today – the desire to keep the farm that they love against all odds.   To read the film treatment, click here!


The screenplay is dramatic, action-packed, humorous, and uplifting. Through a partnership with Douglas Maddox of DBM Films and his amazing team, I plan to produce and develop it as an independent film.  My experience as an author, college professor, wrangler, farm owner and SAG/AFTRA actor with principal roles in The Sixth Sense, 12 Monkeys, and Hope’s Legacy will help me achieve my goal.   


In short, the production of this screenplay is the realization of a lifelong dream for me!  


If you are interested in sponsoring the film please download the sponsorship form here.


The Cecil Whig published an article on March 15 in Biz Beats. You can read an excerpt below the casting information.

Cecil Life Magazine published an article on June 2: JoAnn Dawson and all her jobs.  Author Ken Mammarella writes, "In Hollywood, a multihyphenate is a broadly talented person, like a writer-actor-director.

In Cecil County, a great example of a multihyphenate is JoAnn S. Dawson, an author-actress-entrepreneur-speaker-screenwriter. That’s how she describes herself on"

All major roles have been cast!

(still looking for extras!)

Type: Feature Length Independent Film

Location: Cecil County, MD & surrounding areas
Time: Filming begins July 2021 – Filming dates July 5-20, 2021
Screenplay: JoAnn Dawson

Director: Doug Maddox, DBM Communications


Jodi   25-30 Strong, independent farm girl but also tentative when in unfamiliar surroundings.  Not coy, not flirty, straightforward, with a sense of humor and common sense.  Wants to save the family farm.

Mike  25-30  Ambitious, professional, but also a bit lost in his chosen field of real estate.  Can be smart alecky, but always polite, eager to please,  and a genuinely nice guy.  Is torn between his newly found affection for farm work and the farmer’s daughter (Jodi) and his rising career in real estate.  A young Michael J. Fox type. 

Lynn Jared  (Mike’s sister) 22-24 High school english teacher, friend of Jodi,  a bit younger than Mike.  Good sense of humor, instrumental in introducing Mike to Jodi.

Matt Jared – 40’s – Mike’s older brother, going through a divorce, living with Mike, has two teenage kids, tries to give Mike advice.

Bob Stafford  - 55-70  Jodi’s father, gruff, no-nonsense, has always worked on the farm and is determined to keep it in the family.  Constantly gives Mike a hard time about not knowing anything about “real life.”  Can show a softer side and wants the best for Jodi. 

Frank Stafford – 25-27  Jodi’s brother, loves the farm, scoffs at Mike, teases Jodi

Willie Looper   19-24   Farm hand, joins Frank in scoffing at Mike and playing pranks on him.  Has a  rough side with anger issues.

Michael Jared Sr.   –early 60’s, -  Lawyer, sophisticated, somewhat snotty, wants Mike to leave the farm and concentrate on his real estate career.

Danny Jared – 18-20,  Mike’s nephew, Matt’s son,  a bit of a smart alec

Scott Jared – 16-18   Mikes’ nephew, Matt’s son, quiet and a bit shy

Skip Stevens – 30’s, Ag Extension Agent, full of himself, visits the farm and hits on Jodi

Jim Poole – 60’s  owns real estate co. where Mike works, slick, schemer

Dan Weymouth – 60’s  - Bank VP, in on the scheme to foreclose on the farm  

"Happening this week around Cecil County …

Jo Ann Dawson is scouting sites in Cecil County to use when a film crew is here, this summer to shoot a new movie.

Bringing "Cream of the Crop" to the big screen has the North East woman busy as well, finding supporters and sponsors. Dawson launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $50,000 to start the funding process for a film she expects to cost $160,000.

As the owner of Fairwinds Farm and Stables — an equestrian center and event venue — and the author of five young reader books about horses you’d expect Cream of the Crop to be about horses.

'It has horses in it but it’s about farmland preservation,' she said of the script she wrote in 1998. In fact the story centered around a woman who teaches agriculture at the local tech high school and the city-based real estate man is partially auto-biographical, she said. 'There’s lots of funny scenes, romance, drama and a very good ending.'

JoAnn Dawson & Jane Doe

Since the original script was written more than 20 years old Dawson had to update it to include the use of laptops, cellphones and texting, all of which was not commonplace in 1998. Doug Maddox, owner of DBM Communications, is directing the film. He filmed Hope’s Legacy at Fairwinds Farm two years ago. He also instructed Dawson to make the characters a little older.

'Hallmark only accepts scripts with characters 28 or older,' Dawson said. As luck would have it, Hallmark rejected the project but Maddox is presenting to other networks. 'He’s going to shoot it either way.'

With filming set to start at the end of June, Dawson needs to find a barn that is about to be demolished and a large field of cover crop that its owner won’t mind it being driven over by ATVs. She also needs to see if she can borrow the Cecil County Council meeting room for another location."