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.