Christopher Holmes will be joining us with his film Lost Colony. Here are some questions to let you get to know more about him!
What is your connection to the South?
I grew up in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, a suburb of Akron probably most famous in motion picture circles for being the hometown for filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, who attended the same high school as my mom. I even have his yearbook photo from his freshman year posted on my Instagram account somewhere if people care to work for it. At any rate I moved down to North Carolina about 12 years ago to attend grad school in pursuit of my MFA in Film Production from UNC-Greensboro, and have been a fixture here ever since. I’ve been a programmer for the RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem, NC for the last six years.
Where did you get your inspiration for this work?
It’s a little hard to pin down, but I think the original inspiration for the story stems from a solo road trip I took to the Outer Banks immediately following my graduation from the University of Akron—one of many times in my 36 years where I happened to be feeling a bit overwhelmed, uncertain about my destiny in life, and to put it plainly just lost in the world. I spent a week there as a sort of passenger from the North, surveying the coastal scene, the birthplace of white, Anglo colonization of this country, writing poetry, taking still photos, and getting perspective. When I returned to North Carolina for grad school the next year I continued exploring those themes as a filmmaker until the emblem of the shark tooth and the emotional remnants of that trip kind of coalesced into a story that I felt compelled to bring into the world.
How did you start making films?
Again, a little hard to pin down, but here goes. I sadly can’t say that I boast the same kind of creation myth story about being five years old with a camcorder in my hand or other such embellishments that filmmakers often broadcast about themselves. I will say that I’ve long been interested in media, imagery and storytelling of all kinds and, being someone who admittedly finds coherent verbal communication a struggle, the nonverbal (or pre-verbal, even) audiovisual language of symbol and gesture that the cinematic form provides seemed to provide a space where I could actually articulate with the kind of precision that the English language often fails to make possible. Interesting related side note—I had originally intended to pursue an MFA in creative writing (poetry) at UNCG, with film as a secondary option, but a twist of fate wherein the registrar’s office there lost my application fee check resulted in me missing a deadline and thankfully being invited to study within the filmmaking program instead.
Did anything interesting or funny happen on set during the shooting?
Everything that happened on set during shooting was entirely fascinating and often surreal to me, attempting to make a feature film on this scale of budget and available resources is one of the most ambitious, brave and self-delusional things a person can attempt I think! More specifically though, I think the level of trespassing and asking for forgiveness that needed to occur to secure some of the locations in the film was pretty high. We had potato guns fired at us on at least two occasions during the shooting of the few night scenes. There was a legit shooting/assault that occurred a block or two away from where the entire cast and crew was staying on the very first night that everyone was in town (in Manteo, on Roanoke Island), with a swarm of police cars in pursuit minutes later. We secured the permission to shoot at the mini-golf course used in the film entirely by text message communication and never in fact met the proprietor of the business, which was bizarre. We were chased off of a quick setup at a public beach location by the National Parks Service only minutes after pulling into the parking lot, eerily. I was threatened with a lawsuit by the Historical Association on the island just a few weeks before we were to begin shooting because of some misinformed notion about what we were trying to accomplish with the film, resulting in having to alter the title because of a dubious trademark claim. The problems we had to solve and obstacles we had to overcome in order for this film just to exist were relentless and almost cosmic in their absurdity.
What do you look forward to the most during Indie Grits?
Being that it’s the world premiere screening of my film, I’m most looking forward to sharing the finished work with a live audience for the first time and learning what I can about the film from the interaction. Likewise I’m excited to reconnect with the Indie Grits staff, whom I know a bit from conversations at other festivals and correspondence when my previous short film Sapsucker was screened there in 2009. I’ve been to Columbia a few times but never for the festival proper, so I’m really curious to check out the Nickelodeon for the first time.
Why should someone see your film?
If I haven’t sufficiently stated my case in the answers above, I would just add that this production has been an almost Odyssean undertaking for me in every way imaginable, and by the time it screens on April 15 it will have been a legit ten year voyage since I began trying to make it a reality following completion of the original script. The performances turned in by all the principals—Joshua Brady, Sam Buchanan, Stephanie Morgan and Phillip Ward—are remarkably dynamic, first-class pieces of work all, the cinematography by DP Christopher Schneider is highly ambitious and gorgeously rendered, and I think it features a singular story and authorial point of view that is utterly unlike anything likely to make the film festival rounds this year. It’s an elegant, multi-layered exploration of the concept of colonization and the ways in which self-imposed cycles of fear culture and debt reinforce one another to create a sort of feedback loop—a combination of forces that’s challenging to navigate for a teen growing up in the margins of the American South.