7 Questions with Gabe Gentry, Director of The Porter Prize
1. Are you an Arkansas Native? If so where are you from? If not, How did you get here?
Searcy, Arkansas was home from birth to High School graduation. I lived in Conway for over ten years; first as a digital film making student at U.C.A., and later as a documentary producer for the Arkansas Educational Television Network. Little Rock is home nowadays.
2. What is the inspiration for your film?
To commemorate it’s 25th anniversary the Porter Literary Prize commissioned my company, Mindful Media Productions, to record the oral histories of it’s past recipients. Once completed, the interviews covered over 150 years of literary experience in the fields of poetry, journalism, playwright, fiction, and non-fiction. Fairly soon into logging interviews an unprovoked theme emerged: the belief that language is a fundamental gift of humans. Engaging in that world is to become part of a ‘Great Conversation.’ Their commitment to communicating the human experience through the written word was a sort of calling for each of them. That was the inspiration.
3. Can you give us a brief synopsis of your film?
The Porter Prize gives viewers a candid glimpse into the writers world – the hardships and the rewards. While watching the film, you’re reminded that behind your favorite passages are writers that struggled (sometimes decades) to complete their work.
4. What were the biggest challenges and successes you faced on set?
The biggest challenge was working with a very limited amount of production days and a large of amount of interviewees. We were recording upwards of four visual history interviews (in four separate locations) each day. The success was capturing insightful content from each author. I always worry that the lights, mics, and camera will force a false persona onto the interviewee. Not the case with this film.
5. What is the festival strategy for your film?
We are just really grateful to be included, truly. The caliber of films gets better with each festival year. Personally, I look forward to visiting and celebrating with filmmakers from across the world. The quality of Little Rock’s festival doesn’t happen without a lot of sacrifice, usually by only a few dedicated staff and volunteers. So, I’d like to extend thanks to those folks.
6. Does your film have a Arkansas/Southern theme?
We feature several southern writers, but the themes discussed are very universal.
7. What changes have you seen in the local film community in the five years since the LRFF was launched?
Wow. The change has been so dramatic that criteria for comparison does not exist. This is an exciting time to be a filmmaker in Arkansas.
If you have a project, film news, or any rumors on film you would like to mention email me at David@littlerockfilmfestival.org