1. Are you an Arkansas Native? If so where are you from? If not, How did you get here?
Although I was born in upstate New York, I consider myself an Arkansan. My family settled in Little Rock when I was around 11 years old. I grew up here, went to Joe T, and attended Hendrix College. After graduation, I worked at KARK. I am in graduate school at UCLA so I currently live in Los Angeles. However, I consider Arkansas my home and plan on making more films here.
2. What is the inspiration for your film?
There is certainly a nod to Southern Gothic literature, such as Flannery O’Connor. However, there is a lot of me in this film too. While at Hendrix, I took a summer job as a door-to-door salesman. It was a horrible job, but much of the story is based on the short time I spent knocking on doors. I am also intrigued by spirituality and sense of place—and Arkansas definitely gives a sense of place. I wanted “Foot Soldier” to explore some of those themes within a short format.
3. Can you give us a brief synopsis of your film?
I guess the simplest description is that a door-to-door salesman loses his way, and is helped back to the right path by a small town community.
4. What were the biggest challenges and successes you faced on set?
Making a film in Arkansas was liberating after making films in Los Angeles. From the very beginning, the state welcomed me back with warm hospitality. My dollar stretched much further here than it would in California. I also got to work with incredibly talented people. The depth of talent in Arkansas is incredible.
If I had to pick something that was tricky, it was the day we were shooting a scene where Dustin, the lead actor, had to stand for a long time in icy cold water. I tried it out first and barely made it. Dustin took it like a champ, though. We got it in one take.
5. What is the festival strategy for your film?
For me, this was more a learning project than anything else. I have sent “Foot Soldiers” out to a few festivals. I apply to festivals that are in cities I want to visit. Festival fees can add up, so I try to gauge if this is the type of film they want to program before sending it. I also focus on festivals that give accommodations, so that I can attend without spending money. Right now, I am trying to save funds for my thesis film while promoting this film as affordably as possible.
Does your film have a Arkansas/Southern theme?
I think it does. I certainly was inspired by Arkansas and I felt this was a story that had to be told here. A friend of mine from Spain recently visited several southern states. When he got back he told me, “this country’s soul is in the South.” I agree with that wholeheartedly.
7. What changes have you seen in the local film community in the five years since the LRFF was launched?
I’m so proud of Arkansas. To see a film festival become so prestigious in such a short time is amazing. It is clearly one of the nation’s best emerging film festivals. The LRFF really takes care of its filmmakers, and the taste of the programmers is impeccable. So many strong films have been shown here! I am particularly excited about this year’s lineup: the feature films are films I don’t even have access to in L.A. I’m really impressed with the Arkansas block of films. To have so many highly acclaimed shorts competing speaks to the amazing film-makers in the state. There is no doubt the festival has inspired people to start making films as well as showcasing the long standing talent here. This is definitely my favorite place to make a movie
If you have a project, film news, or any rumors on film you would like to mention email me at David@littlerockfilmfestival.org.