November has always been my "least favorite" month. Odd then, that November has become such a milestone in my life. It all began in November of 2012 at Maiden Alley Cinema in Paducah, KY. That weekend I attended a film festival viewing of the Hank Cochran Documentary created by Greg J. Welsch and Wes Pryor (who happens to be my son-in-law).
Later that afternoon, as Wes and his wife Kaye were leaving my house, Wes asked me if I would be interested in having Reel Cool Films (his independent company based in Nashville, TN) adapt This Time Forever into a film. He said he wanted to try making a drama and thought this story would be perfect. I had given my daughter a copy of the book but didn't know he had read it so I was taken aback at his suggestion. I asked for time to think about his offer and said I'd let him know that evening when they returned.
I had misgivings, not because I doubted that he and Greg could do it, but because he was "family" and everyone knows you are not supposed to mix business and family together. And wait, he hadn't said that Greg was willing to do this. So was he? When they returned, I told him I would accept his offer if Greg would write the screenplay as I had read some of his fiction and was very impressed with his work. The following day, at the second showing of the Hank Cochran doc, I gave a copy of This Time Forever to Greg and the waiting began.
Greg liked the story and the adaption from book to screenplay began. Greg, Wes, and I met once in Nashville to discuss the story. We discussed the characters and I was pleased that Greg seemed to understand my characters as well as I did. In November 2013, Greg sent a copy of the screenplay to me for approval. I was gratified that he had left so much of the dialogue intact and had kept the essence of the story I had written. He had added a couple of scenes that I wished I had thought of myself to include in the book.
Beginning in January, things began to move ahead quickly. Frequent planning meetings were held to discuss ever phase of making the film. An antebellum mansion was required and many locations were investigated before the perfect place was found that fit low-budget requirements . Decisions had to be made about how many characters would be professionals and how many volunteers, then casting followed. Creating and/or collecting costumes, including soldiers' uniforms was necessary. Luckily, Wes has a mom who is a professional seamstress/clothes designer, and a wife who is a professional bargain shopper. By accident (or fate?) Wes met a man who was a Civil War reenactor and he became the film's authority on weapons as well as bringing together a group of reenactors for a day of filming. People were chosen to operate sound and cameras, then a music score was created. I was kept updated while all of this activity was taking place behind the scenes (pun intended) and I was scarcely able to control my impulse to shout it out to the world.
And finally, in November 2014, the news was shared on Facebook and I began the posts that continued throughout the actual filming and beyond. I was onsite for five days of the nine day shoot, beginning with the first day. I was asked recently what was the highlight of the whole experience for me. My answer was when I arrived the first day at the mansion and while still outside, saw Clarissa "float" out the door in her white filmy nightgown that she wore in the final scene. (I learned that scenes are not shot in sequence but according to availability of actors and best use of props). I choked up trying to express what it felt like to see my characters come to life, first Clarissa, then Ruane, then Malcolm.
There was a "letdown lull" for me when the excitement of filming was over. A lot of professional work was going on as scenes were put together, coordinated with sound, music, lighting, and other activities too complicated for me to describe. Then I had an opportunity, along with a few other people, to view the "rough" of what had been put together. And in late October there was a Sneak Preview of the film at Columbus-Belmont State Park Civil War Reenactment weekend. In November 2015, I sat in Maiden Alley Cinema once again, this time viewing Clarissa's War on the big screen for the first time. It was the second equally awesome film-related experience for me to suddenly realize that my Civil War book had become a film and a theater filled with people were watching the story I originally wrote .
Another waiting period began while decisions concerning the next step were debated. Would other film festivals be entered? Would the film be shown in theaters in appropriate locations unrelated to festivals? How would DVDs be produced? Would it be available through VIMEO? Wes and Greg decided to enter the Nashville Film-Con in 2016. A fortunate decision. Through a connection made at this venue, the film was brought to the attention of Dreamscape Media who will make it available to libraries and on Amazon, with distribution possibilities beyond my imagination. And so in November 2016 the last minute tweaks are being made to the film, the official copyrights and other contractual red tape are being finalized and Clarissa's War will be on its way. It has taken four years to arrive at this point, which I am told is typical for an independent film. Sometimes things have moved along so fast my head was spinning and then there have been long waiting periods that seemed to last forever. Four years have passed since this journey began and who knows what November 2017 will bring but I believe this is not an ending, but another beginning.
P.S. My son-in-law and I managed to avoid the forewarned pitfalls of mixing family and business so all is well. And he even assigned me a minor role with a speaking part. If you see the film, look for Mother Burke. I will say, "Yes, dear, I know." (Wes said I was perfect for the part as he has heard me say those words many times.)
Thank you for reliving this journey with me today. I hope you will want to view the film when you have an opportunity.
Visit me anytime at my website. (now being renovated)
Chat with me on Facebook any day.
Check out my work on my Amazon page.
For more information on Clarissa's War visit this link:
Find me here again next month.