Here in Stanberry, Missouri, (pop. 1,230 or so), tucked up in the northwest corner of the state, shooting a film for Blake Eckard, who’s lived here all his life. The film will be called Ghosts of Empire Prairie. Aside from shooting the film (SONY XDcam), Blake cast me as a red-neck Daddy asshole. So far a bar-fight involving a (real) rodeo hand resulted in a nice bruised butt from landing on the floor a few times smack on top of my wallet. Hard to sit comfortably the last few days. It’s been now 10+ days, and we seem to be coming to a close – one actress left, an actor leaves tomorrow. I’m out of here middle of the month. The smear of time is an odd mixture of small-town slo-mo and the rush of shooting, and I lost track of the calendar some time ago. Blake has a script of some kind, though the exigencies of reality usually see it tossed under the bus at the first clash between “idea” and execution. Blake writes in a literary manner, with descriptions which he has no means to actually make happen on screen.
Those tossed on screen with me include Ryan Harper Gray, who met Blake through me when Ryan did his first role for me, in Homecoming. He’s done one other film with Blake since, as well as two for me and is up for another for me in August. He also is finishing his own first film, This Is A Love Story. Along with Ryan are two friends of his, from Dallas, his erstwhile home-town, though he’s made pilgrimage now to LA. They are Frank Mosley, himself a filmmaker, and Arianne Martin. We’re each cast as rural caricatures: myself the asshole Dad of Lonnie (Gray) and Ted (Mosley), and Dawn, Lonnie’s high-school local slut, bar-girl. Of this mix Blake seems, in my view, to be making a slice of small town Gothic something.
With just a few scenes to go, and 20 minutes in a pretty tight edit, it looks as if Ghosts of Empire Prairie might turn out rather good. I hope so, for Blake and the rest of us. While I don’t like to count chickens before they hatch, we did give the Venice festival a little heads up about this film, and if it all works out Blake will submit it for their consideration. Roll them dice.
The lady came out of her house as I was taking this picture, and asked “What are you doing?” And I replied, “I’m taking a picture of the hand coming out of the car’s hood.” She seemed a little surprised at this straight-forward reply, and then said, “It’s my boyfriend’s ex,” and went back into her house.