BATESVILLE The 18th annual Ozark Foothills FilmFest will kick off at 7 p.m. Thursday with the screening of a silent classic film with accompanying music provided by a Batesville native.
The event will feature the 1925 silent film The Gold Rush, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin. Local guitarist Danny Dozier has composed and will perform an original score that will accompany the screening, and it all will take place in the restored Melba Theatre in downtown Batesville.
“I’ve never done anything like this,” Dozier said, laughing.
“It’s been a real challenge. I’ve put my heart and soul into it. It’s been a lot of fun,” said Dozier, who describes himself as a “self-taught finger guitarist” who does not read music.
“I’ve been inspired by the film. I’ve watched it several times … several different versions of it. Every time I watch it, I see something different in it,” he said.
“I’ve improvised as I’ve written the score. I’ve taken little pieces of songs I’ve performed that seem to fit various scenes. That’s what I do when I perform solo guitar works,” Dozier said.
“I have a lot of favorite music,” he said, adding that he plays guitar solo, as well as part of several bands, including The Leatherwoods, who perform in Mountain View and throughout the state. “I particularly like The Beatles. Some people may recognize some of the music [in the score accompanying the silent film]. … Some may not.”
Dozier said he was invited to compose a score for the opening film by Judy Pest, co-founder with her late husband, Bob Pest, of the Ozark Foothills FilmFest, which is a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization dedicated to excellence and accessibility in the media arts.
“Danny was one of the founding board members of the Ozark Foothills FilmFest Inc. back in 2001,” Judy Pest said. “That won’t surprise many local people, who all know the countless initiatives to enhance the quality of life in Batesville that Danny has spearheaded or contributed to. He always gives generously of his time to nonprofit organizations and has been the glue that has held the local music scene together for decades.”
Dozier said that when the Pests asked him to be a board member when they first organized the Ozark Foothills FilmFest, he “had a pretty good idea” for that first year.
“I told them I had a connection to Levon Helm, and I thought we should get him to perform,” Dozier said, laughing. “He did come. I had the blessing of being his tour guide. I was in hog heaven. It was an amazing time.”
Dozier said he served on the festival’s board for several years but is no longer a board member.
“Judy reached out to me this year about performing music during the silent film,” Dozier said. “She had seen me play and thought my style of music might fit this film.
“So I watched the movie and fell in love with it. The movie is not all slapstick comedy; there are some moody parts … some sweet scenes. It’s been a lot of fun to write the music for it.”
Dozier said that for the past several years, he has been involved in downtown revitalization efforts through Main Street Batesville.
“I’m currently vice president of Main Street Batesville and have been involved with it for six years,” he said. “We’re really starting to see good progress in our downtown area.
“I’ve taken on Maxfield Park as a special project. We’ve finished with part of it, but we still have some work to be done. We hope to have it finished sometime this year.”
Dozier said the Melba Theatre is also an example of the revitalization of downtown Main Street.
“It’s great … just beautiful,” he said.
Dozier grew up in Batesville and graduated from Batesville High School in 1969.
“I never really studied music,” he said. “I play by ear. Guitar is my main instrument. I play finger-style guitar, mostly traditional finger style … like the early Merle Travis music. I play modern style, too … more progressive finger style like James Taylor.”
Admission to the Thursday night opening event is $7 for adults, $6 for students and adults 55 and older, and $5 for members of the Ozark Foothills Film Society.
Red Eye all-movie passes are available for $30 for adults, $25 for students and adults 55 and older, and $20 for Foothills Film Society members. This provides admission to all film screenings except The Gold Rush.
Tickets to The Gold Rush screening/performance and/or Red Eye All Movie Passes may be ordered in advance by calling (870) 251-1189 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Advance tickets are not available for individual screenings but may be purchased at the respective venues at the time of the screenings.
A complete schedule of screening times and more information are available at ozarkfoothillsfilmfest.org.