“You just find people you can trust and be around, and you find people with whom you can explore,” Lance said. “All art is vulnerable, and you can't do that with people who you can't trust.”
Lance and Credere became friends while working on a movie with African-American author-director-producer Gary Hardwick (Deliver us from Eva, The Brothers).
Credere says of Lance, “I liked him as a person; we connected on a different level.”
“Basically the old souls type of thing,” Lance interjects. “We never planned it, it just happened. People gravitate toward one another.”
Lance’s and Credere’s gravitational pull soon brought in actor-writer-singer Steven Dean Davis (The Change Up) and director of photography Erik Murphy. This creative alchemy made Lance determined to find a project that they could all work on together.
“I was driving through Oklahoma, talking to the lead actor [Steven Dean Davis] on the phone, saying that we have to do something,” Lance said. “I basically just kind of had an idea, and said let me call you back. I pulled over to the side of the road for about five minutes, wrote a few notes down, started making calls to Credere and other people and said, let's get something together.”
What came together is an independent feature called Hay Days, about Tiny Small, a delusional drummer masterfully played by Steven Dean Davis, who dreams of winning a local music contest called Battle of the Bands in Stillwater, Oklahoma. What Tiny doesn't realize is that his biggest competitors are not the other bands: it is his own illusions of grandeur, and his fellow band members, who do what they can to bring him down to earth. This quirky comedy follows in the vein of the classic Spinal Tap, and Happy Texas, as misfits and misadventurers collide, creating situations and stories which not only tickle the funny bone, but the cerebral cortex, as well.
While the film had its premiere at the 2013 Dances with Films festival in Los Angeles, Lance and Credere have a different vision for the future of their work. This month, they plan to release the movie through their own distribution channels via the Hay Days website. Presale of the film will begin on March 7, with a release date of March 22.
“We're going to hopefully launch with a platform, so that's a bigger thing than falling into a mix of 360 other films,” Credere said.
Hay Days is a rare combination of situation comedy weaved around good, original music, so a companion soundtrack will also be part of that platform.
“Definitely a soundtrack,” Credere said. “All the original music, all different types of genres are covered.”
In fact, Lance feels the music is the gem in the setting of the movie. “Someone who is really into music and understands music will be able to tip their hat. And they may not think it's the greatest film ever, but they will tip their hat. If they know music, they'll tip their hat.”
Credere added his musical chops, as well as his producer cap to see the music and the production come together. “I didn't know the scope of everything until we were there doing it, but getting all these different cultures and races together pushed the story.”
“There's still real racism in Oklahoma,” Lance added. “My personality, I like to push the issue because a lot of good films or artists do that. So we just pushed buttons to see what happens.”
The high-quality production value and the musical mastery lends itself to a moderately-budgeted feature. So it is surprising that Lance and Credere were able to fund the entire enterprise with the help of a few investors, and by adhering to a minimal budget.
“I put up some money,” Credere said. “Once they saw I was interested, we had two good people in Oklahoma who put some money up. He [Lance] had the vision and we sat down and conveyed it to them.”
The genesis of Hay Days was fueled by the creative energy of the team with whom Lance surrounded himself; the rest followed. “My point of view is to showcase the talents of the people around me. It seems like it was a success, everybody came around, and it was a good experience for most people.”
The duo has no plans of stopping this momentum. Part of their focus is pairing potential investors with scripts and projects they have in works. “We're on a 10-year run for sure, Credere said. “I’m thinking longer, but we got 10 years already logged, ready to go. It's just a matter of who else comes on board and what else we do.”
Lance and Credere believe in collaboration. Though the vision and direction might be birthed through them, they desire the execution of that vision involve other people. “It's a team. It's not just him and I,” Lance interjects. “As soon as one thing hits, then we funnel it into all of these other places. We have a lot of projects, and a lot of content.”
As they chart their unconventional course, both Credere and Lance draw from the unique path of Gary Hardwick, whom they consider a mentor. “That person is a visionary in his own right, Gary Hardwick is a great man, and he gave great insight. We owe him big.”
Lance agrees, committed to taking the road less traveled. “We put our stock in avenues that are not traditional.”
“The resources are just not there the way it used to be,” Credere explained. “If you have like-minded people, it's just better to go out there and get it done yourself.”
“We're going forward with a clear vision of what we're supposed to be doing,” Lance concludes.