LITTLE ROCK The University of Central Arkansas at Conway digital filmmaking graduate thesis screening will be held Saturday from 7:30-11 p.m. at Donald W. Reynolds Performance Hall at UCA. I recently chatted with directors Sarah Jones and Allison Hogue, whose respective films, John Wayne’s Bed and Still Life, will be screened alongside Tree by Christy Ward (whom I wasn’t able to reach).
John Wayne’s Bed is based on the true story of Allen Schmidt, an outdoorsman living with Lou Gehrig’s disease, while Still Life is about a young widower scraping by in the Arkansas Delta.
I’ve written about both of your films before, but is there anything else people should know about them that hasn’t already been said?
Sarah Jones: I’m not sure what I can say about the film that I haven’t already said before, but I know that not everyone has read my blog, so I guess there is a lot I can say. We shot John Wayne’s Bed over six days in October in Conway, Cabot and Casscoe. I think the most interesting part of production was on Day Four when we shot directly across the lake from Jeff Nichols’ Mud. So, I guess that’s a fun fact.
What are your hopes for the screening?
SJ: I think that it’s a powerful story and I’m honored that I had the chance to tell it. But the people I’ll be most concerned about are my family and Allen’s. My mom has read the script, but other than that, they have no idea what to expect besides what they’ve seen from the trailer. If they enjoy the film, then I’ll consider it a success. They are who I made it for - not for me, not for graduation - for them. The support from my parents has been so instrumental in my career as a filmmaker, I wanted to do something for them.
Allison Hogue: I wanted to tell the story of this seemingly ordinary guy in a way that felt natural and unforced - I wanted the audience to be able to connect with the character rather than the smoke and mirrors of the cinematic style. So, the cinematography, sound design, etc. are all fairly unobtrusive to the narrative. I hope it all works together and the audience can enjoy and appreciate what we’ve tried to do.
What are your plans for the film after graduation?
AH: I plan on submitting the film to festivals all around the world after the screening. I may, after a couple of months, take another look at the film to see if there are any improvements to be made before I do so, but the cast and crew worked extremely hard on it and dedicated a lot of time to the film, so the least I can do is try to get it showcased.
SJ: I’ve submitted the film to the Little Rock Film Festival and I plan on submitting it to more festivals. I think it’ll be interesting to see where it can play. I feel that this is a story that should be shared. The film hasn’t even screened and I’m already amazed at the following it’s had.
Who were some of the people instrumental in getting the film made?
SJ: This film would not have been a possibility without all of the generous people who supported me and believed in me enough to donate money to the project through indiegogo. Also, I don’t know what I would’ve done without my talented cast and crew. It’s hard to find quality free labor. But they put up with me through six days of long hours, frustration and shenanigans. I really don’t know how they all survived. I’m joking, I think; the people who have been the most supportive through this entire process have been my parents and Allen’s son Keith. It took several meetings with my dad and Keith to find all of the pieces that make up my script.
AH: Still Life wouldn’t have been possible without everyone involved. There wasn’t one person who wasn’t instrumental to the process - my fiance and co-producer/assistant director, Brandon Bristol, was a huge support through it all. My director of photography, Trenton Mynatt, was very dedicated and enthusiastic - when everyone else was on lunch break, he was walking around the location looking for new and improved shots. Everyone who donated food, money, props, or their homes to us were so willing to help. The film would have never been made had it not been for the dedication and generosity of everyone involved.
Levi Agee is a programmer for the Little Rock Film Festival. E-mail him at:
MovieStyle, Pages 33 on 04/06/2012
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