Sunday, September 9, 2018
When director Daniel Campbell took his first project -- a short film called "Antiquities" -- to the 2010 Little Rock Film Festival, he won the Charles B. Pierce Award for Arkansas Film. But he walked away with more than just a prestigious film award -- he also won a new friend and collaborator. Writer, producer and actor Graham Gordy's short film "Spanola Pepper Sauce Company" was also featured in the festival, and he was sufficiently impressed with "Antiquities" to introduce himself to Campbell. The two have spent the last few years expanding "Antiquities" into a full-length feature film, which will receive a screening at 8 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Fayetteville Film Fest
The movie tells the story of young Walt, who moves back to his hometown after his father dies to try and untangle the mystery of who his dad really was. His encounters with the quirky, small-town residents contribute to the comedy of the film.
WHEN — 8 p.m. Sept. 21
WHERE — Global Campus Theatre, 1 E. Center St., Fayetteville
COST — $7
INFO — fayettevillefilmfest.org
"We both lost our dads early on in our adult lives, and so, a lot of times, we both used humor as a defense mechanism a bit, just to keep from dealing with the real pain of it," says Campbell, who was born and raised in Benton. "We have that in common, so we were both able to pull from that emotional bank of losing your dad."
"My day job is mostly television writing, and I tend to get hired for very dour murder shows," says Gordy, who was born and raised in Conway and whose writing credits include the television shows "Rectify" and "Quarry." He shares writing and producing credits with Campbell on "Antiquities" and also appears in it as an actor. "But I love comedy. I've always loved comedy, and I'm still passionate about it, no matter what box the industry wants you to put you in.
"The most difficult issue with this movie was tone: How far in each direction, with these difficult subjects, could we go, in terms of making a movie about loss and mourning, while also having an ensemble of kind of kooky characters? I don't know that it was an easy ground to find, but from the response that we've gotten, it works."
The "ensemble of kooky characters" includes Hollywood heavy hitters like Ashley Greene, Michaela Watkins and one of Arkansas' favorite daughters, Mary Steenburgen.
"Getting on set with someone like Mary, who has an Academy Award" was a little intimidating, says Campbell. But she set him at ease during a conversation in her trailer before she started filming. "She said, 'I need direction. I like getting direction,'" he recalls. "'Don't let me leave until you have what you need from me,' and I thought that was such an incredible thing for an Academy Award winner to say."
Both men say shooting the film in Arkansas was a priority for them -- and something they hope to continue in the future.
"We wanted to show Arkansas in a different light," says Campbell. "There are amazing films shot here, but a lot of those films show the kind of poverty-stricken areas of Arkansas. They're very dark. They're wonderful films, but Graham and I wanted to show Arkansas [as] a kind of whimsical world that we know -- Eureka Springs, and these wonderful, eccentric characters that are warm and welcoming."
Many of the exterior shots were filmed in Eureka Springs and Hot Springs, while a two-story flea market in Argenta served as one of the primary interior settings.
"When we filmed outside, we were trying to show the most Arkansas natural beauty that we could," says Gordy. Having lived both in Los Angeles and New York City, he says he's used to people being surprised by the beautiful vistas Arkansas has to offer.
"When I show pictures of Northwest Arkansas, in particular, the question is always, 'That's Arkansas?' So I think, between that and 'True Detective' filming here, my hope is that people will walk away and have a different perspective of what it looks like here."
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