Filmmaker Andrew Paul Davis and his team are working to weave a Midwestern story as a feature-length film titled “Indiana.”
Movie making is a response to the times, Davis said in his video pitch on the Seed&Spark campaign website.
Davis’ film is one of 73 films in the running for the Hometown Heroes Rally, a national film competition. The 10 films that have crowdfunded past the 80 percent green light mark and have the most followers by Oct. 13 will have the opportunity to pitch to the Duplass brothers.
The brothers run the Duplass Brothers Productions, an American independent film and television production company. In November, they will pick five films to executive produce.
Davis said the project is currently in pre-production stages, and these past couple months have involved casting roles for the film, scouting locations and gathering followers — those who vote for the project on the Seed&Spark campaign page. The team will begin shooting in March.
Davis said it has been a challenge to gather support for the film.
"It's one of the most stressful things I've ever done," he said.
Though the creation of the film will continue regardless of the outcome of the campaign, support from the Duplass brothers could significantly increase the team’s chances of getting the film distributed in the extremely competitive independent film industry, Davis said.
As of Oct. 11, the “Indiana” team has raised its goal of $7,500 and is in the 13th position of the 73 films.
Assistant Director Joe Shea said the film is a cross-generational one that takes place in rural Indiana, focusing on three outside characters whose paths cross in a bar. One of the main characters is a racist auto mechanic and another is a lesbian, Christian college student.
Davis said the film takes place in current times and that timely political occurrences shaped its formation. He said he got the idea for the racist character in January, as white supremacist rhetoric made national news.
After the incident in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer, Davis said he had to adjust the script and character from one who is almost comically ineffective to one who is more threatening.
Shea said traversing this political terrain was not easy, and it was necessary to have difficult conversations throughout the process.
“It has been something that Andrew and I do not take lightly at all," Shea said. "Through every film project, there’s a great deal of research and conversations with people. And asking people after they’ve read the script, ‘What do you take away from this? Is this effective? Is this not taking these people as people, but rather, are they stereotypes?’”
Davis said that he is not trying to make a political movie, but rather make use of the power of storytelling in its ability to spark empathy in people.
“My job is to tell a story and have complex characters," he said. "The goal is to create paradoxes of people, because that’s what we are."
Davis said his reflections on his four years as a college student at Taylor University have also informed the screenplay he has written. He said part of the ethos of the project was offering a glimpse into the diverse range of people in rural communities.
“I think shared geography is going to inevitably mean connectivity, like, ‘This person I know is someone you know,'" Davis said.
Shea said that filmmaking is not generally concentrated in the Midwest, but that’s what the team hopes to bring forward.
“This is not an East Coast or West Coast film," he said. "This is a story of people in the Midwest, really bringing attention to the stories that can go unnoticed. More stories of where we live are going to be told.”
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