"Absolute power corrupts absolutely in a small southern town." That is the tagline for "Twinkletown," a film written and directed by Scott McEntire. It is presented on behalf of Clever Alibi Productions and is well into post production. Read on for more information about the film as well as an interview with McEntire.
From the Facebook Page:
"Twinkletown" is a short film by Clever Alibi Productions that is set along the Bayou Bartholomew in Star City, AR. This work of fiction deals with corruption in a small town, and how ultimate power can be a dangerous struggle to maintain.
Jess Carson: Thank you for taking the time out for this interview. Tell me a bit about yourself.
Scott McEntire: Well, my name is Scott McEntire. I was born and raised in central Arkansas. I did a lot of theater when I was younger, and was cast in a couple of films being shot locally. Life took over after awhile, and I moved to Warsaw, Poland when I was 28, where I lived for five years. I coached and played baseball there for a First Division team (the Warsaw Centaurs), and worked a day job. After I came back, a friend of mine told me about a script idea he had, which is how Chris Wilks and I wrote "Anyone." It was a story loosely based on our youthful escapades, and we were fortunate to land it in a few festivals (it won Best Film at the 2011 JamFest Indie FilmFest). I have a most lovely and talented wife, and am a proud dad to a 9-year old aspiring actress and her very gifted 12-year old brother. Life doesn't suck.
JC: How did you come up with the concept for this film?
SM: My dad grew up just outside of Star City, and much of his family still lives there. I've been going to my grandmother's house forever, and was always struck by the stark disparity of wealth in the delta region. It always seemed that there were "haves" and "have-nots", and very little in between. Southeast Arkansas is flat, hot and without a lot in the way of jobs and hopes for many people. I have a lifetime of seeing plantation houses and large ranch spreads sitting just a few feet away from 100-foot shacks that housed large, dirt-poor families. Take those images and add a spot or two of my imagination, and you have "Twinkletown."
I guess you could say it has been brewing in my skull for all of my adulthood. I tried to talk myself into writing other scripts, and started quite a few, but somehow always came back to this. It's total fiction, but it always felt quite real to me. I couldn't imagine shooting this anywhere other than where my dad grew up, and where I could try to give something back to the very people and region that had sparked my creativity.
JC: What genre would you say this film falls into and what will set it apart from other films in its genre?
SM: I would call it an Action film and maybe an Adventure film, but I really just wanted to channel the spirit of Guy Ritchie. I find that to often be my goal. I think and I hope that the characters will set this film apart from others in its genre. I wanted to create true emotions and characters. Every person in this film is three-dimensional, and even the most evil of the characters has at least a moment of true human emotion. We are all flawed, yet I'd like to believe we all have redeeming qualities, as well. I've thought about this recently, and really only one of the central characters is a true innocent. I want to show that even the good people have some bad qualities, but there are deep-seeded reasons for why they've become this way. That's real life, and each one of us has reasons for being how we are.
JC: What was the most memorable thing about principal photography?
SM: Now this is a loaded question. Do I talk about taking over an entire town square for a day with Elvis and his limo on hand, or about J.C. Cocker dangling over the Arkansas River in the dark to bounce lights? Or about getting to film in the house and land where my dad grew up, or about getting to use the wonderful and historic Ashley Alexander House in Scott, AR?
Seriously, there is just so much to choose from, but I think the most memorable thing is what was least memorable. What I mean is that the cast and crew was never for want at any time on any shooting date. My producer, Stephanie Stephens, took care of us and stayed a step ahead of anything we needed. We finished ahead of schedule or on-time every day we shot, and that includes a 15-hour day. That doesn't happen without incredible support behind-the-scenes to keep the machine running. Yeah, it's either that or the swarms of bugs that overtook us when shooting in the dark near the Bayou Bartholomew.
JC: Can you tell us a bit about the crew you're working with?
SM: I've already mentioned my 1st Assistant Director, J.C. Cocker, but he's worth mentioning again. We spent numerous days mapping our shots, going beyond just a shot list. We used multiple Canon 7D cameras on this, so it was important to have our sight lines planned and understood before showing up on location. Kelly Griffin was my Director of Photography and is my editor. Although I don't yet have proof, I'm quite sure that Kelly wears a wizard hat in his spare time. He has the steadiest shooting hand I've ever witnessed, and I trust his editing skills and choices immensely. He truly makes even the best cast and director look better than they actually were.
Charlie Brady and Roy James were on the other cameras, and Leon Tidwell ran sound for us. Leon's ears will one day be in a museum, and I can't thank him enough for stepping away from camera duties to assume a role that needed filling. The finished product will show how talented Tony Gschwend is with putting great lighting into rough situations. Gretchen Morgan made sure we were where we were supposed to be, even when we forgot where we were, and Jay Morgan kept track of more props than I've seen on most sets. Caitlyn Currey made the beautiful people look beautiful and the rough people look rough. Her ability to handle film makeup is second to none. And although I am leaving out others for the sake of brevity, I have to mention Mike Mees. Mike is a veteran foot soldier who is willing to do anything you need done at any moment in time, and will do so without hesitation. Quite simply, I had an all-star crew. The two dozen of us took over Star City for a weekend, and shot in other locations on other dates, as well. I can't think of another group of people with whom I would like to play moviemaker.
JC: What about the cast?
SM: We had one, yeah. No, seriously, Stephanie and I painstakingly chose our cast. Kristie Pipes channeled some serious inner angst and diva qualities to express for us. The range that Dustin Alford shows as an actor is reminiscent of the range that Willie Mays had while patrolling center field at the old Polo Grounds. Yes, I successfully worked in a baseball reference. I had the honor of directing both Don Pirl and Tucker Steinmetz, although neither of them needs much directing, frankly. Tucker is a wonderful pleasure of a man. I watched this man run up and down railroad tracks in near 100-degree heat while wearing a long-sleeved wool shirt when we were filming "The Bloodstone Diaries." Getting to work more closely with him again was a thrill to me. Don is a man who knows his craft inside an out and is thoroughly a true professional. I honestly have to pinch myself when I remember that he was directed by the Coen brothers in "True Grit." I enjoy Johnnie Brannon's company every time I am around him, and I enjoy watching him work even more. I have more admiration for him than he knows, and will probably regret admitting my man-crush so publicly. He brings a great energy to the set, and it infects others.
The great surprise was meeting Erica Monday, and getting to watch her work. She is naturally talented, is both dedicated and directable, and is willing to leave her comfort zone for the sake of the role. Caleb Spillyards and Brennan Beams weren't afraid to travel into some very intense emotions, and make their time on screen very memorable to the viewer. Clayton Bowman and Jay Morgan bring the background to life and give this film a depth that just simply would not be there if not for them. It was also great fun in just letting Mike Brabender be a small-town political leader and go with it. Brian White proved that he is someone who can be counted on whenever necessary. And lastly, I have to thank the people of Star City for giving up their Sunday to film a movie in their beautiful town square.
JC: Anything else you'd like for us to know?
SM: The music behind the opening credits is a song called "Dirt" by Moses Tucker, and the closing credits use the song, "Changes," by Red Dirt Mojo. Both are bands with roots to Arkansas, and it was important to me to use local music in this film. I believe that sound is sacrificed all too often in film, and it was important to me to find the right music to set the mood. I scoured local musicians and listened to an infinite number of tracks on ReverbNation to find what I felt was perfect for this film. I'm proud to say I found it in these two tracks. Also, my goal is to entertain the audience. Life is a serious venture, and if I'm able to give someone a small respite from that, then I feel like this film did its job.
Be sure to "like" "Twinkletown" on Facebook.