Georgetown College professor Ed Smith has survived the making of "Surviving Guthrie" - the theatre and performance studies department's first feature-length, independent film - and now he is inviting the world to the premiere at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Kentucky Theatre on East Main in Lexington.
Jesse Harris, a Loyall native and Cawood High School graduate, is the scriptwriter for the movie. Harris is coordinating another showing at 6:30 p.m. on April 4 at the Harlan campus of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. Cost is $5. For reservations, call Harris at (606) 524-2964, or email him at J_harris20@hotmail.com.
Tickets for this first showing of the 90-minute movie are $6 and can be reserved by calling The Store at Georgetown College at (502) 863-8134. Tickets will also be on sale at the Kentucky Theatre.
Smith said audiences will be entertained by this dark comedy - set at a fictional, small liberal arts college - whether or not you know any of the more than 100 students, faculty, staff or Georgetown alumni who played a role.
"We tried from the outset to write an engaging story and then bring as much passion and drive to tell that story cinematically" said Smith, the film's editor, director and producer.
Jessie Rose Pennington, the female lead who has starred in many College Maskrafters stage productions, as well as numerous lead roles in the prestigious "Grand Night For Singing" and other area musicals, enjoyed her first film experience - and said she thought movie-goers will like it, too. "Since 'Guthrie' is so very cleverly written, I could see it doing well at film festivals," said the junior theater major from Lexington. "I think the success of 'Napoleon Dynamite' has opened some doors for independent films like ours."
Harris, a participant in the ideaFestival's film-making workshop in Lexington in 2004, said the title character is not based on anyone at the Georgetown he graduated from in 2006.
"I call this an autobiography from 30 years in the future," he said, laughing. "No one will be offended. And, it's not as 'dark' as it started out to be."
Still, the lead characters aren't pleasant people. Carter Guthrie (played by well-known Lexington actor Joe Gatton) is an aging, disgruntled professor/father. Harris further described Guthrie as "a chain-smoking, drunk of a teacher who is actually doing a pretty good job." Trouble is his estranged, individualistic daughter Ally (Jessie Pennington) won't speak to him. And, the Paulsen College dean of students (English professor Todd Coke) blackmails her into reforming Guthrie - or the school risks losing a huge donation from a wealthy alumnus.
For more on the making of this movie, go to http://www.georgetowncollege. edu/news/2007/10-18-07.htm on the college's Web site to read the story that appeared on "Surviving Guthrie" in Insights, the alumni magazine. Trailers, artwork and other facts about the movie can be found at My Space at http://www.myspace.com/survivingguthrie.
Meanwhile, Harris has seen the completed footage (the dialogue editing, music and sound design are still ongoing) and is very pleased with the film visually.
"It's not the same film I wrote, but in the end we have something we can all be proud of," said Harris, a CSR/loan processor at First State Financial in Lexington who plans to apply to several film schools for this fall.
"We're particularly grateful for the help we've received from the professional community," said Smith. "The collaborative nature of the project has been tremendous fun." Trigger Happy Productions' Marc Gurevitch gets the biggest nod because "as director of photography and lighting director he's responsible for so much of the look of the movie." And, Smith singled out Arthur Rouse of Video Editing and Neil Kesterson of Dynamix Productions - as well as the annual Kentucky Film Lab in Louisville for help in training students.
Of course, a number of Georgetown students had big roles, but Smith called senior Michael McCord, of Cynthiana, his "triple threat" for his work on both sides of the camera.
Other students with speaking parts include Ryan Brown, (homecoming queen) Calie Goins, Lydia Shaw and Allison Wilson. Georgetown professors George McGee and Sonny Burnette, heads of the theatre and performance studies and music departments, respectively, are heard from as well as a number of young alumni such as John Farley, Megan McGee and Claude Anderson. Two young alumni - James Hamblin and Adam Luckey - have also made names for themselves on various theatrical stages in Lexington.
Movie will provide a night to remember
By JESSE HARRIS - Contributing Writer
First things first. Please come see this film. You'll like it. Given, this film has been the last 16 months of my life, so I'm a little biased, but I'm pretty sure you'll like it.
Come see "Surviving Guthrie." But don't just do it because I've asked you to. I'm in no position to tell you what to do. Before making this film, I was probably best known for getting thrown out of a high school basketball game at Evarts when I spiked a ball against the floor and put a hole in the ceiling. I'd rather be remembered as "The Movie Guy" than "The Guy Who Got Thrown Out at Evarts and Put a Hole in the Ceiling."
Let's talk about Surviving Guthrie. For starters, what else are you going to be doing on Friday, April 4? It's Harlan County; we don't have a lot of options. Wal-Mart's not going anywhere. The Mexican restaurant will be there tomorrow. So odds are, it's come out to the main building of the KCTCS Harlan Campus and watch Surviving Guthrie or sit at home and watch Deal or No Deal reruns.
I promise we're more entertaining than Deal or No Deal.
Maybe you want to go to the Harlan Cinema 4 and watch a big Hollywood production. Of course, if you did that then your money would be going to Hollywood. By coming and watching Surviving Guthrie on April 4, you support the local economy. Your money stays here. With the economy the way it is, shouldn't we be doing the best we can to keep out money local?
Even if you don't care about your lack of entertainment options or the economy, there's always this: There's free food there! Free food! Who can pass up free food? It'll be good home-cooked food. Wedding reception food, but with the long and boring wedding replaced with a quick-moving, witty comedy. So now you'll be getting a special night of entertainment and a table full of free food.
If all of this isn't enough, if you need something else other than a night of food and entertainment, and you could care less about the economy, there's another reason all together to come out on April 4 at 6:30 p.m.
Do it for the children of Harlan County. Dream with me for a few minutes, my fellow Harlanians (Harlaners? Harlanites?).
A lot of the kids in eastern Kentucky are told they won't amount to anything. That they can't do this, or they can't do that, because of where they're from. They'll be told that they've just got to accept things the way they are.
Well, bring them out and let them see the movie (if they're old enough to hear a couple of adult words). Not that we're a big deal, but we made a movie for about the cost of a new truck, did it with local actors and volunteers, and did it all by not sleeping for year and living off of coffee. We did a pretty darn good job, too.
They can do whatever it is their calling to do, whether they were born in Baxter or Boston.
Come out to the KCTCS Harlan campus main building at 6:30 p.m. on April 4 for some good entertainment and some good food, and stick around and listen to Ed Smith (director), Marc Gurevitch (cinematographer) and myself (screenwriter) talk about making a movie. Do it for the kids. It'll be more fun than watching me spike a ball through the ceiling.