1. Are you an Arkansas Native? If so where are you from? If not, How did you get here?
I am. I was born and raised in the Delta, so I spent my childhood in McGehee and Dumas, Arkansas. I’ve been in Conway for the last seven years working on my undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Central Arkansas, where I’m currently enrolled in the Digital Filmmaking Master of Fine Arts program.
2. What is the inspiration for your film?
My spirituality has been a huge part of my life for the past three or four years, so I was passionate about doing a Christian-based film before I graduated from UCA. I wanted it to be accessible and entertaining for a wide audience, though, so I spent a great deal of time thinking about ways to combine entertainment and artistic value with spirituality. After some brainstorming, I remembered a story that one of my uncles told me when I was a kid — a story that he claimed was true — about a woman who picked up a hitchhiker.
The woman in the story didn’t usually pick up hitchhikers because she was too frightened to do so, but something during one particular experience told her to give one of them a ride. When the hitchhiker got in the car, the first thing he said was, “The Master’s trumpet is to his lips,” meaning that the end of the world was near, and it shocked her so much that she started driving erratically and was soon pulled over by a policeman. When she tried to explain to the police officer that the man in her backseat had startled her, the officer told her that there was no one else in the car. However, he said that he believed her story because she had been the seventh person to tell him that in a week’s time.
Though my script doesn’t have much in common with the story my uncle told me, remembering it made me think about the spiritual realm’s interaction with humans, and I began to wonder what would happen if this kind of story could ever be true. I also started toying with the idea of combining action, suspense, and spirituality. That was when I got the idea for Hitchhiker.
3. Can you give us a brief synopsis of your film?
The film is about an unnamed hitchhiker and his pursuit of a young woman named Jamie who picks him up in the middle of the night. I don’t want to give away much else, but as you can probably guess, he doesn’t just want a ride into town. He’s up to something much more than that, and we don’t find out until the end what that actually is.
4. What were the biggest challenges and successes you faced on set?
As far as challenges go, the entire film takes place at night and most of it takes place outdoors. That presented difficulties itself in terms of sound and lighting, but we were also filming in mid-November, so we were outside in bitter cold temperatures until midnight on most days. Thankfully, though, my producer made some fantastic hot chocolate to keep us warm, and we had a great cast and crew who stayed positive and upbeat.
Overall, we had a very successful shoot. We had some generous assistance from the Conway Police Department and were able to shut down several roads in Conway for filming, and some of my relatives were kind enough to let us film at their home through most of the day and night when we needed to. We wrapped early every single day, the cast and crew worked together fantastically, and we were able to do pickup shots during our regularly scheduled filming weekends because we were so far ahead of schedule. I couldn’t have been happier with the way production unfolded.
5. What is the festival strategy for your film?
The goal is to get the film into most of the film festivals that it is eligible for in and around Arkansas, and then try to expand it into Christian film festivals around the country and the world.
6. Does your film have a Arkansas/Southern theme?
This particular film doesn’t have a southern theme, unfortunately. However, my thesis film (currently titled Still Life) that I am writing, directing, and producing for the MFA program is based in and will be filmed in the Delta. We’re currently in pre-production, and production will hopefully take place in September of this year.
7. What changes have you seen in the local film community in the five years since the LRFF was launched?
I’m relatively new to the film community — I didn’t actually start working on sets until my first year of graduate school, which began in 2009. So, it’s hard for me to tell if I’m just becoming more involved with and knowledgeable of Arkansas filmmaking or if the filmmaking community itself is growing and expanding. I imagine, though, that it’s both. Over the past couple of years, I’ve seen and heard of filmmakers all over the state, especially around Little Rock, doing some interesting, high quality projects, and that’s really exciting to me. I can’t wait to get more and more involved with the local film community because I think Arkansas and its local filmmakers are really making a name for themselves around the country.
If you have a project, film news, or any rumors on film you would like to mention email me at David@littlerockfilmfestival.org