Saturday, December 31, 2016

Last thought about 2016

OK, so 2016 is finally almost over. This was a long year (and not just because it was a leap year). It's well documented how it claimed an eye-popping number of some of the most talented artists to ever walk the earth. I think we can also agree most of us survived the nastiest presidential election in history.
Closer to home, Kansas remains stuck in a recession, and it doesn't look like things are going to improve any time soon.
Still, I'm grateful for what 2016 meant for our documentary "Out Here In Kansas."
First of all, we finished the thing, which was no small task.
Second, we've had people support it. Sure, there have been great friends (that's me in the top photo at our world premiere a couple of months ago, posing with some of my beloved cast members of Wichita Gridiron). But strangers have reached out and embraced it, too. We've had so much help from so many people, including some who have disappeared from my life.
Third, I know we've got bigger things coming in 2017. Thanks for keeping up with the project on this blog, and I'll see you on the other side.

Friday, December 30, 2016

What do you mean you're leaving?

In our effort to find B roll for the interview we did with Kansas filmmaker Steve Balderson, I watched all three movies of his Wamego trilogy.
In the opening minutes of the second movie, Wamego Strikes Back, Balderson and his crew are at the Raindance Film Festival in London, which was showing their critically acclaimed "Firecracker."
After Balderson addressed the audience, he did something I found strange. He walked out of the theater and kept himself busy for a couple of hours. He explains in the movie that audience members have different reactions to the film, and he wanted to hear all of them - but not until after it was finished.
"I don't need to see them experiencing the journey," he said. "But as soon as they have finished the journey, then I'm very curious."
Just tonight I asked Balderson, who now lives in Los Angeles, about that. He replied he's never stuck around to watch his movies with an audience - not once for the 17 movies he's done.
Personally, I don't know how he does it. For every screening we've had for "Out Here In Kansas," I felt I had to experience it with the audience. How can I miss out on the reactions? How will I know what parts that audience liked best?
Balderson told me after making five or six films, I'll be leaving, too. I suppose he's probably right.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Song in the opening credits

Since I described the opening credits in my last post, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the song that plays with them.
It's called "Debutante's Ball." It was performed by a group called Je Suis France out of Athens, Ga., a city that also produced REM and the B-52s.
I discovered the song on the sports website Deadspin, of all places. Members of the now-defunct band, once I tracked them down, told me they have no idea how it ended up there.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

They don't make 'em like that anymore

After watching the slow-motion, Wes Anderson-inspired opening credit scene of "Out Here In Kansas," I've had a couple of keen-eyed Augusta natives ask me if the set was the very movie theater we grew up with.
Indeed, that is the Augusta Historic Theatre, my favorite movie house in the world.  Built in 1935, the theater was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.
I've often said if I could live in that theater, I would. That's how much I adore it. I'm delighted it's in a movie I made, and I'm thankful the folks there came through for me.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Hot stove heating up

We've got some exciting things brewing for "Out Here In Kansas" once the holidays are over, including a handful of upcoming screenings in Kansas. Watch for announcements coming soon on this blog.
In the meantime, you might want to check out this speech that popped up on YouTube earlier this year. Someone recently passed it along to our friend Burt Humburg. Burt passed it along to me, and now I'm passing it along to you.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Prayers for the Equality House

If you've seen "Out Here In Kansas," you'll remember we introduce you to The Equality House, the rainbow-colored cottage directly across the street from Westboro Baptist Church.

I don't mind telling you how sad I am this morning to learn that our friends at Equality House have been the victims of several recent hate crimes. I have heavily cropped the top right photo here, but I think you get the idea.
The president of responded with this message on Facebook ...

Before painting the Equality House, Davis and I thought it would only be three weeks before the house was burnt down.
We even set forth escape plans. But something beautiful happened over the course of the last three years.... Nothing.
With roughly 150 visitors a day, the Equality House had never been attacked.
Then, in late 2016:
- Our Little Free Library was covered in feces.
- The KKK knocked on our door and told Davis and me that we would be killed if Trump were elected.
- Then, a few weeks ago, I was awakened by the sounds of 5 white guys spray painting "f__ fags" along the exterior of my house. They also left 7 bullet holes in my window.
I spoke with the Southern Poverty Law Center after the Equality House was shot, and they confirmed hate crimes are on the rise.
I've seen more swastikas in the last couple of days than I have seen in my lifetime outside of historical references.
But what scares me more than the bullets nailing my window and swastikas popping up on street corners around America is the absolute silence from far too many. This is no time to be complacent my friends. We must act.
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
- Aaron Jackson

Monday, November 14, 2016

Silent partner

I've used a fair of space on this blog talking about Kenny Linn, our editor and cinematographer, Mostly I've sung his praises, but every once in a while I'll post something about him that I find funny. Like this. Or this. Or this. Or especially this.
But this picture, taken by Melissa Fink at the Kansas International Film Festival a few days ago, makes me smile the biggest.
That's Kenny on the left and producer Savannah Rodgers in the middle. Of the four of us on the team (Jon Pic is not pictured), Savannah probably loves talking the most. Kenny's more of an introvert.
Kenny, bless his heart, has willingly taken part in most of our Q&A sessions. But as you see here, he's never too crazy about being handed the microphone.

Evening with the Episcopalians

Saturday evening saw our second screening in a church, St. Thomas The Apostle in Overland Park. It was a special evening for a couple of reasons.
First and foremost, it is the church of Judy Dutra, whose son Burt Humburg is the main character of "Out Here In Kansas." (Judy herself makes an appearance in the movie.)
It is led by the Rev. Gar Demo, a man with whom I share some amazing connections, although we're both pretty sure we hadn't met until Saturday. Gar and I are the same age, we grew up about 10 minutes from each other, we both went to Wichita State and our mutual friends range from opera singers to sports talk show hosts.
And it was great because the crowd was such a terrific mixture of complete strangers, people I'd met the night before and dear friends I hadn't seen in years, including my former newspaper colleagues in Missouri.
I grew up First Baptist, but for a long time I've considered myself an honorary Episcopalian. I'm told a fair amount of the crowd had reservations about watching our documentary, but they came anyway. If I can find more people who will give it a chance for 30 minutes, "Out Here In Kansas" could be well on its way to big things.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Feeling the love in KC

We just returned from Kansas City, and let me just start this post by thanking two of our executive producers, John and Jennifer Stephens, who really spoiled us. Eating, drinking, lodging - they made sure we wanted for nothing during our two night, three-day stay.
They finally got to see "Out Here In Kansas," which was shown on the big screen Thursday night to finish the Kansas International Film Festival. We were the only documentary in a block of other local films  - my personal favorites were "Hoyt," "Corvalo" and "For Sale," which was a speechless, minute-long narrative created by our own producer, Savannah Rodgers.
I wish we'd gotten Savannah in this picture (that's me on the left, cinematographer Kenny Linn in the middle and producer Jon Pic on the right) because it was the first time the four of us had been together in awhile. Nonetheless, it was great to hang out and we were even treated to a first-class after-party when the festival ended.
Kenny and I did a little work on Friday - we're still poring over a short list of what our next projects will be - before John and Jenn threw a celebration party for us in a private room at a club called The Levee.
That brings us up to the hazy wee hours of Saturday morning. But I'll save that for another post.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Once more at Roxy's

We had an encore screening at Roxy's Downtown last night, an event that was considerably more laid back than our world premiere last month.
Trying to shine a little spotlight on fellow Kansas filmmakers, I asked Doc Sunback Film Festival director Nancy Faber Mottola to be our emcee. We opened things up with a trailer of "Wifi at Rock Bottom," made by our friend Lester Rowe, who won the audience appreciation award at this year's festival.
We then showed the sweet-hearted sci-fi short "Franklin," which won best Kansas film at the inaugural Doc Sunback last year. That was directed by Anthony Bradley and stars Naythan Smith, a talented director himself who was in the audience last night.
So thanks to everyone who came - gosh, we nearly filled up Roxy's again - and especially to those who shared their stories about the meaning "Out Here In Kansas" had for them.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Jayhawks and Ichabods

My son Dallas is a sophomore at the University of Kansas. He studies hard, he has a part-time job and he's even in a fraternity. He's been understandably busy when I've tried to get him to watch "Out Here In Kansas."
"Just email it to me," he told me,
"No, man," I replied. "You have to come to a screening."
It finally happened Saturday. I drove up to Naismith Hall, hung out in his dorm and took him to the Salty Iguana before that night's screening in Topeka.
That was at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Topeka, in an event sponsored by UUFT Justice and the Beacon Youth. It was fun seeing so familiar faces from last year's shoot at the Equality House. It was fun meeting UUFT Minister Sarah G. Oglesby-Dunegan, who is now probably on my five top list of people I'd like to share a beer with.
And it was fun visiting with people like Kansas author Annette Billings, my cousin Beth and Julie Buzbee, my former co-worker at the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press, who was kind enough to take the picture you're looking at right now.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Our next five Kansas screenings

When we travel to the Lid-Off Film Festival on Saturday, it will start a stretch in which we screen "Out Here In Kansas" five times in three weeks. All are in Kansas, all are open to the public, and I plan on being there for them.
Here's the list.

Lid Off Film Festival
1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22
213 S. Main St., Lucas, Kansas

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
7 p.m. Saturday, Oct 29 
4775 SW 21st St., Topeka, Kansas

Roxy's Downtown
6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5
412 1/2 East Douglas, Wichita, Kansas

Kansas International Film Festival
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10
Glenwood Arts Theatre
3707 W. 95th St. Overland Park, Kansas

St. Thomas Episcopal Church
7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12
12251 Antioch Rd., Overland Park, Kansas

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

You asked for it - an encore

Due to popular demand, we will be again be screening "Out Here In Kansas" at Roxy's Downtown, this time on a Saturday night.
Mark your calendar for Sat., Nov. 5. The doors open at 6 and the half-hour documentary will start at 7 p.m. at Roxy's, which is located at 412 1/2 E. Douglas.
Because we unexpectedly sold out the premiere, and unfortunately had to turn people away at the door, we're doing things a little different this time. Tickets may be purchased in advance by calling (316) 265-4400. (Reservations can also be made by emailing, but calling is recommended.)
Advance tickets at $5, but they'll be $8 at the door. You can find out Facebook event here.
As always, food and drinks will be available at Roxy's. The folks there are being awfully good to us, so I'd encourage you to come early and enjoy yourself at a first-class venue.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

An important note

I wanted to share this message we received from a woman who attended the world premiere of "Out Here In Kansas" last week.

Last night you were the person that reached to a struggling young man. He recently came out about his sexuality.
As a mother, I thought we should attend this film release. I'm sure you will remember him. He was the quiet, nervous Pokémon go player seating off to the side.
He was active in the church but when he came out he felt he had to leave and never return.
Thank you for your work and for shining a light on my son's hard road ahead.

That was used with permission from the mother, and it puts a serious lump in my throat. Stories like this are exactly why I set out to make "Out Here In Kansas." If you've seen the movie and would like to share yours with me, I would be eternally grateful. (And I promise to respond to each one of them.) You may email them to

And if you haven't seen the movie, we have at least four more Kansas screenings coming up over the next 24 days. Maybe five - we're hearing from a lot of folks asking for an encore screening at Roxy's Downtown.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Best night of my life

I've been having trouble describing how electric our world premiere in downtown Wichita was earlier this week, but I think my filmmaking buddy Lester Rowe summed it up best.
"So let's recap," he said. "You had two mayors, a bunch of filmmakers, Miss Missouri and not an empty seat in the house, Only a select few get to experience that. You took an article, turned it into an idea, went on a first time filmmaking journey and had a moment."
As I told the crowd afterward, I think it was the best night of my life.
The emcee was the aforementioned Miss Missouri, Sierra Scott, who happens to be the best friend of marketing guru Christine Bitner, who helped organize the event.

Wichita mayor Jeff Longwell was in attendance with his wife Susie and 10 of my castmates from Wichita Gridiron, Mulvane mayor Shelly Steadman and her husband Kyle, who are executive producers for the film, were there as well. So were executive producers Dave and Trish Powell. Former teachers. College classmates. Best friends. Doctors. Lawyers. Politicians. Pastors. Journalists.
Musician MariaElena, who scored the movie, was there, as was artist Ram Hull, who animated it. I should really stop trying to name people at this point, but I do owe a big thank-you to my friend Brendan O' Bryhim, who came up with the idea of this event in the first place.
We drew a standing-room-only crowd on a Tuesday night in Wichita. One marketing professional said that was nothing short of miraculous. VIP Wichita Magazine, Splurge! and the Tallgrass Film Festival all had photographers there. It was a first-class event at a first-class venue, Roxy's Downtown. We even got this review from the Wichita State University Sunflower.
But none of those things were the most satisfying part.
When the lights dimmed and the movie began, Christine and I settled in at the very back of the room and paid attention to the audience. They laughed in the exact moments we expected them to. They cheered in other moments when we didn't expect them to. Some cried at the end. They hung on every word. Many didn't want it to end. It was the stuff filmmakers dream about. They really got what I've been trying to do.
So what now? Well, we have four more screenings in Kansas over the next month, and there's been a lot of inquiries about an encore screening at Roxy's. So stay tuned for an update on that.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

We have a new trailer

Kenny and I put this trailer together this week. It's not as heavy as the one we put together last year. If you recognize the distinctive singing voice, it belongs to our old friend Hollis Smith, who performs under the stage name Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Screening in Topeka

If you live in the Topeka or Lawrence area, I'd like to invite you to an Oct. 29 screening of "Out Here In Kansas" at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.
The event is on a Saturday and begins at 7 p.m. Following the half-hour documentary, I'll be on hand for a question and answer session.
You can learn more about the event here.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Schedule is set for KC

Out Here In Kansas will be playing on closing night of the Kansas International Film Festival. The screening will be 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10 at the Glenwood Arts Theater in Overland Park.
There's an impressive lineup of films, including a documentary about the basketball-playing Rush brothers, a movie that uses 40 different directors and a narrative short about a fight club.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Come meet us at Pridefest

They're trying to avoid the storms right now, but Wichita Pridefest is currently happening at the Mid-America All-Indian Center
It is the largest LGBT event in Wichita, and Out Here In Kansas will have a booth there tomorrow (Sunday, Sept. 25). Based on what I saw there setting up this afternoon, it's a crazy popular event. We will be on the northeast Mezzanine, booth 62. 
If that information doesn't get you far enough ... just tell someone you're looking for the popular T-Mobile booth. (We're right next to it, on the end. That booth was rocking before Pridefest even started. They have candy bars and everything.)
I will personally be there until at least 2 p.m., when I'll then be relieved by creative genius (and producer of our movie) Jon Pic.

Friday, September 23, 2016

World premiere: Oct. 11 at Roxy's Downtown

The long-awaited world premiere of "Out Here In Kansas" will be on National Coming Out Day at one of Wichita's swankiest venues: Roxy's Downtown.
Here are the details of the event, which is Tuesday, Oct. 11 at Roxy's, 422 ½ E. Douglas (between Topeka St. and Emporia St.).

* Doors at Roxy’s will open at 6 p.m. for those wishing to order dinner and drinks. A full bar will be open all night.
* Social hour begins at 6:30 p,m.
* The documentary will be shown at 7:30 p.m. It is approximately half an hour long.
* Following the documentary, around 8 p.m., will be a filmmakers Q&A. 
* Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door.

The documentary, if you're not a regular reader of this blog, centers around a gay Kansan and the conservative Christian pastor he grew up with. It includes testimonials from several gay Kansans, including filmmaker Steve Balderson, Grammy Award winner Melissa Etheridge and Matthew Vines, author of "God and the Gay Christian." You can watch the trailer here.

We've had a lot of good people help us make this happen, and it's going to be a first-class premiere. I hope you can make it.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Remember this face

Our friend Steve Balderson, a filmmaker who makes an appearance in Out Here In Kansas, has had an active September so far.
In the midst of promoting his new movie in Los Angeles, Balderson made the time to write an Op-Ed column for The Advocate, the largest LGBT publication in the United States.
Balderson is a native Kansan whose resume includes the thriller Firecracker, which was given three and a half stars by the late Roger Ebert.
His column, which is well-written, thought-provoking and has received a lot of attention nationwide, can be found here.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

We have a new website

Just in time for the fall festival season, our documentary has a new website that can be found at I think you'll agree it looks fantastic.
The website will eventually include links to just about everything related to the documentary, including this blog.
Many thanks to the amazing Christine Bitner for creating this for us.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

In praise of the library

Our new, soon-to-be-finished website states that during the production of "Out Here In Kansas," we made 52 trips to the library.
I'm not completely sure how our web designer came up with that number, but I'll bet it's at least that many.
The Wichita Public Library, mainly the downtown and Rockwell branches, are the ones I've visited most. They were especially helpful in helping me search old microfilm, and I made sure to thank them in the closing credits of the documentary.
I'm pretty sure they also know my face at the libraries in Andover and Augusta. I've also used the libraries in Derby, Towanda, Wichita State and the University of Kansas. I'm probably forgetting about a couple.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Kansas film festivals: What are we missing?

One of our goals is to be invited to every film festival the state of Kansas has to offer.
But just how many are out there? 
Obviously, we know about Wichita's own Tallgrass Film Festival. They were kind enough to show our trailer at the festival last year, and we hope to make our world premiere at Tallgrass this fall.
We've already been accepted into the Kansas International Film Festival, as well as Lid Off, a quirky little film showcase in Lucas (home of the Garden of Eden.)
Of course, we know about our friends at the Doc Sunback Film Festival in Mulvane. Our editor Kenny helped start the event in his hometown, and we had a test screening there over the summer.
Today I learned  Hutchinson has an annual film event, which unfortunately would have interfered with Tallgrass.
So Kansas ... what are we missing? Because I'm sure we're missing plenty.
Out Here In Kansas is a 32-minute documentary, and you can see the trailer here
Aug. 31 update: I've been told I forgot about the Freestate Film Festival, held every summer in Lawrence. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

We have an IMDB page

That's the Internet Movie Data Base, in case you didn't know. My brother made me aware of IMDB about 10 years ago, and I still refer it all the time to learn more about the movies I watch.
Anyway, you can find the IMDB page for Out Here In Kansas here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Watching with Pastor Joe

We've been discussing this privately for weeks, and tonight it finally happened. We screened "Out Here In Kansas" for conservative Christian pastor Joe Wright (pictured far right). In case you're not a regular reader of this blog, he is a key figure in our documentary.
"After all the time and cooperation he's given us," I explained to journalist Matt Riedl (pictured far left), "we felt it was only right he see the movie before it hits the film circuit."
And what were Pastor Joe's feelings? I'll let Matt explain them in his article, sometime in the near future. (You can follow Matt on Twitter here.)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Monday night football

OK, that headline is a bit misleading, although "Out Here In Kansas" does have a heavy football theme. Tonight my girlfriend and I showed it to four girls, ages 16 to 20. (One of them was my daughter, who was surprised to learn she makes a brief appearance in the film.) They all gave me positive feedback, and we spent at least an hour afterward discussing religion, sexuality and the eternal conflict between both.
Their favorite part was the discussion/debate between the two main characters. I was a little surprised to hear that, since it's the one scene with no B roll or action to speak of.
Next week, editor Kenny Linn and I have a private screening scheduled with Pastor Joe Wright, a major figure in our film. I plan on sharing some good news before then. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Pastor Joe's new venture

When he was doing a callback voiceover for us a few weeks ago, Pastor Joe Wright spoke to me about his new calling: A church in downtown Wichita that is geared toward sheltering - and ministering to - the homeless.
It was far from a done deal then, but apparently there's been some major progress. Pastor Joe and "Church on the Street," which sits at Central and Market, are both prominently featured the Wichita Eagle this weekend. I encourage you to check out the article, which includes a couple of videos.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

A secret you'll learn only from reading this blog

In the opening scene of "Out Here In Kansas," there's a pinch of Copenhagen under my bottom lip. Because I don't speak, you may not notice it, but it's there.
I haven't dipped tobacco for seven months now. So I hope you'll forgive me for feverishly chomping on gum in this later scene (pictured) in which I'm listening to Burt in an Iowa hospital.
I'm not proud of either habit ... but there you have it.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Our film festival suggestions

Earlier this month, after we submitted "Out Here In Kansas" to the Tallgrass Film Festival, I asked readers which other festivals we should consider.
The suggestions so far ....
* Cannes Film Festival
* FilmOut (San Diego)
* Frameline (San Francisco)
* North Carolina Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
* Outfest (Los Angeles)
* Slamdance
* Sundance
Have any you'd like to add to this list? Let us know!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Laying low

Things have slowed down considerably since we completed Out Here In Kansas this summer. but we've put the downtime to good use. We're in the process of finalizing a new website, which will of course include this blog. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Our first festival submission

Over the Fourth of July weekend, we finally submitted "Our Here In Kansas" to our first film festival. We hope to make our world premiere in October at the Tallgrass Film Festival in Wichita.
Do you know of a film festival that would be a good fit for us? Please let me know about it.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Boom boom pow

As I've mentioned on this blog before, when it came to the making of "Out Here In Kansas," we learned to celebrate the milestones.
Having test screenings at a film festival is most definitely a milestone. Bless her heart, my thoughtful friend Christine realized that. She gave me several party poppers for Kenny and I to celebrate with our supporters, then took this cute little video of us doing just that.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

What a weekend

I did not promote this, but "Out Here In Kansas" had a handful of test screenings over the
weekend at the Doc Sunback Film Festival in Mulvane.
The audiences were small, between 10 and 20 people. But one of the screenings included my parents, and it was the first time anyone from my family has seen it. (It also happened to be their 54th wedding anniversary, and they celebrated in style by hitting up the buffet at Mulvane's own Kansas Star Casino.)
For the record, my parents said they loved it and thought I had portrayed both conservative Christians and the LGBT community in a fair light. That was cool, and they're the most supportive parents ever, but it was a little more gratifying to get positive feedback from fellow filmmakers

Did I mention I didn't promote these screenings? We really didn't want to get a lot of people excited, since we're hoping to have our true Kansas premiere at the Tallgrass Film Festival this fall. We weren't eligible for awards or anything like that. We still haven't officially submitted to any festivals yet, since we're waiting to switch out a couple of the songs.
But what a blast we had at Doc Sunback. There were a lot of good movies and good folks at the inaugural event last year, but this year was much more of a party. It was good to spend time with Savannah Rodgers, our dynamic young producer, and we even did a couple of Q&As together. She had two of her own films in the festival, as did Lester Rowe, one of our creative advisers.
Editor Kenny Linn was out of town part of the weekend, but made it back just in time for our Saturday night screening and the masquerade ball. (That's him with the television monitor over his head, being kissed by festival director Nancy Farber.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Time for Doc Sunback

The Doc Sunback Film Festival will be held Thursday through Sunday in downtown Mulvane. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know I'm a big fan of the festival, which started just last year. Tickets are $2 for a block of short films, and $49 will get you an all-access VIP pass to all the events, including the parties.
I'm especially excited about Doc Sunback this year because of the people who will be there. On Friday, filmmaker Lester Rowe (a creative adviser for Out Here In Kansas, pictured top middle) will be screening his short film "Evolve Or Die," starring MMA fighter David "Caveman" Rickels (top right), who will also be in attendance.
Mulvane native Kenny Linn (bottom right), our editor and DP, will be around and so will OHIK producer Savannah Rodgers.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

We have a movie

Out Here In Kansas is essentially finished. Kenny and I spent yesterday wrapping it up.
If this post seems understated, it's only because we're not making too big of a deal out of it. There was no celebrating when I left Kenny's house last night. We still need to replace a song or two with original music that is still being composed.
But everything is finally in place to show our half-hour documentary. Next up: A test screening this weekend, followed by our long-awaited entry into the Tallgrass Film Festival.

Friday, June 17, 2016

How Melissa Etheridge responded to Orlando

I'm a couple days late getting to this, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention a new song by our friend Melissa Etheridge.
How new is it? She had it written and produced just a couple days after last weekend's shooting in Orlando, which left 49 dead and 50 injured. The shooting was at a gay nightclub, and Melissa says once the song is available to purchase, proceeds will be donated to an LGBT charity.
The name of her song is "Pulse." It wasn't until this morning that I realized that was also the name of the nightclub.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Matthew Vines weighs in on Orlando

My friend Lauren Seabrook was supposed to start a new television reporting job in Orlando today. Not surprisingly, they needed her yesterday.
As I was updating this blog yesterday, I still hadn't realized the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub over the weekend was actually a hate crime against gays.

One friend of mine, who is only partially out of the closet, admitted he broke down crying when the news finally sunk in this morning.
I wasn't sure what to say. But I did send him today's TIME Magazine column from Matthew Vines (who is featured in our movie). It's outstanding, and I encourage you to read it, too.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

What's stressing me out

Of all the aspects of this film, which would you guess is causing me anxiety? My friends and family hating it? Being sued? Being shot by someone who felt I was spreading the wrong message?
I'm not worried about any of that stuff. I'm laid back, and I just never panic.
But if I forget to thank someone in the closing credits that should be thanked, that's really going to ruin my day.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Football scene is done

If you know our editor and DP, Kenny Linn, be sure to give him a big "attaboy." He just finished the football section of "Out Here In Kansas," which was by far the most complicated scene in the movie.
I've had a specific vision for this scene for a long time, but at the end of the day, Kenny is the one who had to make it happen. After weeks and weeks of working together on it, I finally got out of his hair and let him do his magic. (You'll know what I mean when you see it.)
So that's it for the footage that made our movie. What's next? I'll be writing about that the next couple of days.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

In what category is Kenny?

This may only interest you if you're into film making, but I just read this column suggesting there are four types of video editors.
If it does interest you, you might be asking in which category our own editor, Kenny Linn, falls.
Well, I would never categorize Kenny - but if I did, he would mostly fall into "storyteller." He knows the way words are delivered are just as important as the words themselves. He knows sometime you don't need words. He shares my goal of making a story flow. And he's brought terrific ideas to the project that never would have occurred to me.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Back to Central Christian

At the end of our Kansas church tour shoot this week, we arrived back in Wichita just in time for the magic hour (which is more like 20 minutes, according to Kenny). As most photographers know, that's when the light is most beautiful before sunset, and that's when we took our long-awaited shots of Central Christian Church.
I wasn't expecting to feel emotional when we did this, but being back at CCC brought back a ton of great memories from when my kids were small. My son was baptized there. I'd forgotten I sometimes volunteered in their classrooms at Central Christian Academy. Their teachers were simply outstanding. Good times.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Kansas church tour

Kenny Linn, our editor and DP, and I spent the entire day Thursday shooting various churches all around Sedgwick, Harvey and Reno Counties. And when say the "entire day," I mean from 10:30 a.m. to 8:15 p.m.
Amazingly, we were able to work all the shoots we wanted around the sporadic rain and hail showers that hammered us all afternoon. The highlight of the day was meeting up with my crazy friend Rachael, who was more than happy to show us her favorite unusual churches in Hutchinson. We got lost at least three times, and at one point Kenny fell asleep as we were flying down a muddy country road.
This was our last scheduled day of shooting, and the shots were not as easy as you might think. For example, St. Mary's Catholic Church was recommended to us by a handful of former Newton residents, and it is beautiful, but all these power lines prevented us from getting a clean shot of the front. Pictured here is Kenny trying to get a nice shot of its side, but we ended up cutting it in our editing session later than night.
Oh yes, the editing. We ended up doing that at Kenny's house all night. I left his house at nearly 5 this morning.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Just like old times

This is Kirby's Beer Store, a place in which I spent a fair amount of time in college, since it was directly across the street from Wichita State's student newspaper, The Sunflower.
I talked editor Kenny into spending a couple hours there last night for Kirby's "May Songwriter Sessions." Brody Wellman, who has helped us with sound for "Out Here In Kansas," plays the upright bass for Kirby's house band. Our friend MariaElena, who scored the movie, also performed.
Tomorrow, Kenny and I hit the road again for the last of our post-production shots.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

What would Jesus do? Probably not this

"Oh, no."
That was my gut reaction to yesterday's news that reinforced Wichita's reputation as the worst place in America to live if you're gay.
Trinity Academy, a private Christian high school in Wichita, has publicly reminded us on its application it has the right to expel students who have a gay family member. Yikes.
I'm not sure how long this has been on Trinity's application, but the school's administration was forced to go into spin control mode (albeit not on camera) after it blew up on social media - and the real media -yesterday.
The former Trinity student KSN's Brittany Glas interviewed for its story on the link above is married to a former co-worker of mine. Many of my kids' classmates at Central Christian Academy are now attending Trinity. My daughter used to attend their cheerleading camp. Pastor Joe Wright, who has been crucial in the making of our documentary, was a key part of creating Trinity in the first place.
So as a Christian, my reaction to the story was not anger, but sadness. For Trinity to put that statement in black and white seems to go against everything I've been taught about Jesus.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Brother Joe in studio

Pastor Joe Wright has granted every request we've made in our effort to finish Out Here In Kansas, and I thought I had things wrapped up with him last year.
Back then, I assumed we would be able to use this sound byte from the late Paul Harvey reading Pastor Joe's most famous prayer. But I've now been told by two attorneys that I will never get the blessing of Paul Harvey Jr. (Ram Trucks convinced him a Paul Harvey-voiced Super Bowl commercial was OK, though. Good for them.)
Anyway, I finally booked a studio and asked Brother Joe to just voice it himself. He graciously helped us once again.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Why we love Mulvane

Here are two of my favorite people, Shelly Steadman and Kenny Linn, chatting on the rooftop of Luciano's in downtown Mulvane. There is no place I would have rather been Saturday night.
This was an after party following a screening of short films being considered for the Doc Sunback Film Festival in June. Kenny (my editor) and Shelly both grew up in Mulvane, where she is now the mayor. More than anyone, they appreciate how rare it for a town the size of Mulvane to support the arts. It took courage to start a film festival there. That gives it major coolness points, as far as I'm concerned.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Friday night lights

Let me just start out with a big thank-you to local filmmaker Nick Brown, who volunteered to help Kenny and me with our rescheduled postproduction shoot down in Winfield last night.
A glamorous job, this was not. We simply needed more shots to set a scene on the football field at Southwestern College. It was chilly, windy and muddy. Some people might have even found it boring, although Kenny (left) and Nick (right) were completely into it.
Hopefully the rain continues to hold off tonight, when Mulvane is hosting this cool film event. You can bet I'll be there regardless.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Post production shoot postponed

We had everything set up at Southwestern College, and I do love storms, but tonight's shoot was called off because of heavy rains, hail and flooding.
As it turns out, this was a weird day to schedule a shoot in the first place. Every meterologist in town predicted tornadoes ... on the 25th anniversary of the historical Andover tornado. (There were none tonight.) Because of the rain, we made the decision not to make the trip shortly after 6 p.m., which is right around the time our documentary subject's life became changed forever.
We'll try again Friday night, even though the forecast calls for rain then, also. The trip to Winfield will include Kenny, me and local filmmaker Nick Brown, who has been a major help in the latter stages of our project.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Bald and dorky

I've had friends, girlfriends and relatives tell me I'm incapable or taking a bad picture.
There are at least three reasons this is photo proves that untrue ...
1. My dumbfounded look, which is priceless.
2. The tag, because my shirt was not priceless (and I was trying to decide whether on not to return it).
3. The stocking hat in my right hand, because it was a little chilly that morning.
Good Lord. I do look like a farmer - and a bald, dorky one at that.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The day our barn became a movie set

This is a barn in Greenwood County that belongs to my family. (To prove it, my dad put a sign that says "Knapp" on the side.) The barn has been there my entire life, but I don't remember it actually being used for anything, other than shelter for when it rained on our camping trips.
When Kenny Linn, our editor and DP, mentioned an old barn would be a great backdrop for narration, this is naturally the first place I thought of.
I can't say without bias how great my on-camera lines were. Between acting and singing in Wichita Gridiron and hosting a daily radio show, I'm honestly sick of hearing my own voice. Editing this shoot with Kenny over the weekend was painful.
But I'll say this: The shots look amazing. Kenny is the man. But I guess I've said that already.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Now that's blocking

This 16-square inch section was the main piece of blocking for our latest day of shooting, and it's where I spent a pretty big part of my Saturday.
I'll tell you more about this shoot tomorrow, but I haven't had much time to update this blog the last few days. My entire weekend was consumed with this, editing film with Kenny and being an extra in this movie.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter

Here's a picture of me with the Easter Bunny, proving I made it to church this morning. It's the first photo taken of my new hat, which our friend Hollis Smith talked me into buying at Hatman Jack's.
The rest of my day will be spend eating dinner with my family at mom and dad's ... followed by watching more VHS tapes of the 1997 Southwestern College football team with my extremely patient editor, Kenny.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Nine hours

That's how much football tape Kenny and I have watched so far of the 1997 Southwestern Moundbuilders season. More to come this weekend.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Back to the game film

One of the cooler aspects of "Out Here In Kansas" will be a segment describing Burt's time as an All-American football player. But it's also proving to be the most challenging.
To start with, Burt was an offensive guard, which has got to be the hardest position in football from which to choose highlights.
There is one play in particular we're looking for, and we have yet to find it. But I know we will, That's because Kenny and I have secured all the game tapes from Burt's senior season at Southwesteren College (and a VHS player on which to watch them). So far we've seen every second of five games, which means we're almost halfway finished.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Searching for Paul Harvey Jr.

Actually, his birth name is Paul Harvey Aurandt II, and he is the son of the legendary radio broadcaster Paul Harvey. For reasons that are important to the film, I need to speak to the son, who is a legend in the radio business himself.
If anyone out there has a connection, I would be grateful for any help. As a longtime journalist, I'm used to tracking people down, but I continue to hit dead ends.
My email address is, and thanks for reading our blog.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Remember her?

This week we got a new pair of eyes and ears on "Out Here In Kansas" - those of Maria Elena, who has been a friend of the project for about a year.
You might remember me writing about Maria Elena when she played our benefit concert back in April, She's agreed to score the movie as we continue to edit our way toward a final product.