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Films & filial feuds
A new movie venture, starring Lawrence Hamilton, focuses on the rocky relationships between fathers and sons.
K. Clarence Lawrence is the writer, director and producer of Sons & Fathers, shot locally and starring Lawrence Hamilton, Verda Davenport and Vernon Lawrence. The film premieres Monday at Market Street Cinema and releases online and in theaters Jan. 29.
Q: Tell me a little bit about the story in Sons & Fathers. It seems to be a very human one in a very real world where things are far from perfect. Without giving too much away, how do you summarize the plot?
A: That’s exactly what it is. A classic human story. Specifically, the relationship dynamics between sons and fathers. It has always interested me that no matter where you come from, how much money you have or anything like that, who your father is and how he lived his life affects you directly, it’s like this predisposed set of traits you have to deal with. Both positive and negative. This film basically deals with this and how, in finding your own identity as a son, you must know where you come from and most importantly, decide how it will affect you.
Q: I’m also curious about the creative process. The old maxim goes “write what you know.” How much of this narrative is based on real experiences (yours or others), or what’s the inspiration behind it? How tough is it to write a functional story so filled with dysfunction?
A: I would say about 70 percent of the basis for the story is based on true events and real people. The heart of the story comes from either myself or someone I knew. Executive Producer Sam Cobbins also helped me develop the story, so a bit of his personal experiences are in it as well. As it turns out, our story deals with very relatable issues that a lot of people deal with. But there’s also this element of the film that contains action and danger that’ll keep people on the edge of their seats. ... That part is a bit of a fabrication (laughs). It’s like Hitchcock said, “Film is life with all the boring parts cut out.” I believe this to be true.
Q: Sharp eyes can see many familiar Little Rock locations just in the YouTube trailer. As a producer and director, I’m guessing you spent a lot of time both finding and securing those. How easy or hard is that and did you have a favorite place you absolutely fell in love with while shooting?
A: That’s actually one of my favorite parts of producing. Getting to look at locations and try to get it as close to the script as possible. It’s tough though, because when it comes to scheduling and wrangling hundreds of pounds of equipment and huge trucks from each location, it gets a bit tiresome and takes a ton of logistics. It’s always worth it though. My favorite location would have to be shooting on the Junction Bridge. It was very serene. The Director of Photography, Michael Pugliese, was able to get some great shots of the city.
Q: One of the film’s stars is local favorite of both stage and screen Lawrence Hamilton. How did he become attached to the project? Was there an association beforehand or did you approach him just knowing his résumé or what? And what of your other stars? How did you come to find them?
A: I met Mr. Hamilton while he was performing at The Arkansas Rep doing Looking Over The President’s Shoulder. At that point I was working as a stage hand sweeping the floors post shows. Every night he would go out and literally bring the house down with his performance. I told myself if I ever got a chance, I’d work with him one day. Once I got the green light with funding for a film, I instantly got ahold of his agent and did what I had to do to get him attached. Wasn’t easy, but definitely worth it.
Also, we worked with Excel Models & Talent with Summer Moody to hold casting sessions. Most came from there and various local agencies.
Q: One common challenge for independent films is getting shown, which is often a matter of hitting the festival circuit. But you’re going straight into theaters and have secured wide distribution online. How’d that come about? And are you still doing festivals?
A: We’ve been blessed to be doing what we do in a time where the original “rules” have been kind of thrown out and are literally being rewritten everyday. Every level from production to distribution, the rules are being changed daily. Five to 10 years ago, it’s a good chance I don’t make a movie. Everything from technology, finances, post-production and more were tough to get and tremendously expensive. Today, thanks to smartphones, tablets and the Internet economy as a whole, there are way more distributors than there were many years ago. It’s still tough to get a deal such as the one we have, but timing is the biggest reason in my opinion. The other reason is relationships, plain and simple.
We will be a part of a few festivals, but not as a contender. Just “guest” showings.
Sons & Fathers premieres at Market Street Cinema at 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 28. The film releases into theaters in Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas as well as online through iTunes, Amazon, Netflix and Google Play the next day.