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.