While we were filming GROW! in the summer of 2010 at the Swancy's Riverview Farm in Ranger, Georgia, two things happened. The first was when we met Wes and Charlotte Swancys' son Graham. The second was when we heard the wild screaming of their hungry hogs at feeding time. The sound of the hogs, if one didn't know they were happy and hogs, might bring to mind 'attack of the alien monsters.' It was a squealing, roaring, barking cacophony and sounded like the perfect noise for a horror film. A kernel of an idea was planted and then, just as abruptly, left alone as GROW! needed to be shot.
Returning in October to film more B-roll and interviews at Riverview, we shot late into the afternoon. As it is at least an hour’s drive back to Atlanta it was suggested that we spend the night and get an early start to continue filming the next day. Charlotte made arrangements for us to bivouac at their neighbor’s cabin across the road and that's when the third thing happened: we were introduced to a beautiful ruin of out buildings and a tumbling down farmhouse (and a most charming cozy cabin in which to spend the night).
We wandered the property, called Blue Fork Farm and considered it as a location for a horror/suspense/something/anything film- it was just so glorious in it's decline. We had to do something. Yes. Exhausted, we hit the bed and slept.
Rising early and grabbing the still camera, we took scouting shots of the tobacco barn, the old house and assorted angles of the location then headed out across the road to continue filming GROW!
Sometime in December, losing our minds with GROW! trying to get some kind of cut we could call final, we came across thescouting pix of Blue Fork and it all started to come together:
Graham had, since first meeting him, been seared into our imaginations as a film character of mysterious, diabolical powers and we really wanted to put him in a movie. Then there was the pig’s screaming noise (monster? aliens??) and lastly, the beautiful ruined, crumbling farm; what did it all mean? How did the pieces fit together? We knew we had to do a film.
The Swancy’s, being the cool folks that they are agreed to let Graham be in our as yet to be conceived production.
Then, we realized we needed a few other characters and asked Russell Cook (who with his wife Cameron and their band "Little Country Giants" had supplied the music for GROW!) if he and their daughter Frankie Lee would consent to be in the film that was now beginning to take shape in our minds.
Next came the location… Would the owners of Blue Fork Farm, Andy and Ana Bailie be willing to let us film on their property? A nice leap of faith for a couple who barely knew us or knew what we were planning to shoot.
We heard "yes" across the board. OK. All we needed was a script. So we knocked together a story line of sorts, Owen developed a shot list and storyboards and Christine wrote some dialogue.
Good to go.
For the past ten months we had been filming and editing GROW! and if you have seen it you know it is a light filled, sun drenched feast for the eyes.We sorely needed to get out of the edit suite and get a visual cleansing so we opted for a de-saturated and darker look for this project. We secured December 30th, 2011 as a shoot date. Early that morning we brought along a loaf of bread, peanut butter, jelly, our espresso maker and a 6 pack of Guinness, (that was our Craft Service) and hit the road and headed up to Ranger.
The day was perfect: overcast, dreary. The leaves had abandoned the trees. Blackbirds swarmed and screeched.
We had limned out the general story to the cast and let them pick their own wardrobe; as you can see they did a sweet job. Wes drove his pickup truck over for "The Man" to drive and we were rolling.
We didn't tell Graham and Frankie exactly what it was about; we didn’t want to confuse their young minds with the nuances of filmmaking- so when Russell walks up, we told them to "stare hard at him like you are reading his mind."
Well that worked. Actually everything worked. And then it got even better.
After we finished filming and the kids were eating PB&J's and the adults were slamming espresso and quaffing Guinness, Frankie asked what we were going to use for music in the film. Hmmm, hadn't thought about that.“I’ll write a song for you if you get me paper and a pencil” she said. Russell smiled, we smiled and Christine ran off to get the requested materials. Frankie began humming to herself and proceeded to scratch out a tune. After about fifteen minutes she announced she was done. Oh, well in that case...
So we rolled sound not knowing exactly what she had confected. Frankie started singing and we were just blown away. Russell, a songwriter of immense talent and experience was blown away (and a little proud). It was one of those moments when you go weightless and cannot believe what is happening.
And that was a wrap.
We cut the film, it won Best Directors Short at the Atlanta Horror Film Festival, and we laughed about how sometimes projects almost put themselves together. Sweet serendipity.
With over a thousand of our images in stock at Getty, it's still rare to just run across one in use even though they are in play everyday worldwide, so when looking at the morning news on Huffington Post and one pops up, we shouldn't be surprised but we are.
... in Louisville, Kentucky for the Empowering Women Veterans Conference 2013.
There will be a private sneak-preview-test screening for conference attendees only. The three principal women veteran farmers of Terra Firma will be here and we intend on getting photos of them together!
UPDATE: Friday 11/8 Thank you Ann Blevins, Adria Ruff and Maureen Anders (Anders-Ruff), the kids, the moms... super shoot. Wish we could sneak-peak some set pix but you'll have to wait till publication. In the meantime here is a "between set-ups" shot of the kids-
Who knew Georgia farmers were so hot!
October is a globetrotting month for our documentary GROW! with screenings in Charleston South Carolina, Prague Czech Republic, Petoskey Michigan, Antwerp Belgium and back to Denver Colorado.
It's a 7 days/ 4 stories/ 4 locations/ 3 magazines marathon. Whip it. Wish we could post some pix- but you'll have to wait for publication... Thanks to Anna Forkum for getting the props, locations and scheduling together- a monster job masterly executed.
It was a year ago today we started filming Terra Firma. Our first stop was Anna Mann's farm in Mt Airy, NC. TERRA FIRMA ON FACEBOOK: http://on.fb.me/1dpfbcG
We are currently in post production... Simon Beins, award winning composer (City Dark, Truck Farm) is working on original music... The Little Country Giants have contributed a song... Mike Lorey of Rationally Creative is working on the web site... we continue working through color correction, sound design and legal... onward.
We will be attending the GROW! screening at Green Market Piedmont Park. We'll be on hand to answer questions about the making of the film as well as discuss our ongoing FIELD TRIP! project for Georgia Organics and our next documentary TERRA FIRMA. See you there.
Natural Heroes is an award-winning series seen on Public Television in the United States. Their mission is to celebrate independent filmmakers who turn their lens on our natural world, and to showcase encouraging, inspiring stories of people who are making positive differences for our environment. GROW! is happy to be a part of Season 6. Check local listings or go to:
So OK! After waiting through days of torrential rains, flooding, tornado warnings, more rain, thunder and lightning (the likes of which we have never before witnessed) plus all the hoop-jumping to get corporate property releases approved and then signed (and the back and forth between our attorney and their people for the 'fine points') not to mention the changing of flights, car rental arrangements, hotel accommodations and adjustments to location and subject schedules... we have got the shots! To read the full account go to: On location... UpDates
The entire staff of Anthony-Masterson Productions are in Charleston, South Carolina for a long deserved break. We have been cracking the whip and they deserve a few days of sun, sand, surf, day dreaming and kicking back. Accommodations are at The Tides on Folly Island.
Check out the latest episodes with Tripp Eldridge of White Oak Pastures, Ryan Graycheck of Greyfield Inn Gardens, Brendan Prendergast of Koinonia Farm and Bobby Wilson of Metro Atlanta Urban Garden at Georgia Organics.
... with Donn Cooper from Georgia Organics heading for Koinonia Farm in Americus Georgia to film a Field Trip! episode. Then to Cafe Campesino in Americus for the opening of the garden and an outdoor screening of GROW!
Wednesday we are up early and heading to White Oak Pastures to shoot two episodes of Field Trip! with Tripp Eldridge.