Panthers, Sasquatch, & Sharks: The Week That Was

Just a quick update and mini-photo dump from the hectic events of last week. Between Tuesday’s Black Panther discussion panel at the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library and the 21st Annual George Lindsey UNA Film Festival, I kept myself busy.

The panel presentations seemed to spark a wave of discussion, one that oftentimes veered into the realm of the political but always remained civil and informative. I was very impressed with my colleagues and their interpretations of the film. I guess my quick rundown of the character’s journey from panels to pixels was necessary too, but the other three scholars clearly dazzled with their insights.

Good thing I went first. I would not want to follow any of those other three.

For those unable to attend Thursday, or for those who don’t come from our neck of the woods but still would like to hear the panel, the library was kind enough to livestream the chat. You can find it on their Facebook page.

Thursday, the documentary short I co-produced, “The Alabama Bigfoot Society,” premiered at the Lindsey Film Festival. It was well received, and a lively Q & A ensued. Our interviewee–Jim Smith, founder of the aforementioned society–is a charming personality, and it was on full display.


Tashina Southard, my director/co-producer, waded through nearly three hours of footage and gigabytes worth of data Mr. Smith provided and found a way to pare it down to just under ten minutes. We will use much of the rest in the larger project, The Hollerin’ Thang, but we quickly realized there was much more to what he had to say, concepts that didn’t logical fit into the narrative of our film but that needed to be shown. Thus, the short was born.

The other great part about Lindsey is …

The free booze.

At the Kickoff Party Thursday night. Not pictured: the libations just below the frame.

Well, yeah, that is a perk, but what I was really getting at is something else. Being surrounded by other talented individuals: filmmakers, directors, producers, actors, animators, etc. The networking is invaluable, but just the chitchat can lead to breakthroughs.

Tashina and I have had a bit of a problem getting folks to go on camera and tell their story. I understand why, and Mr. Smith actually speaks to this very point in the short we just screened. People are afraid of looking foolish. They’ve seen something inexplicable, logic-defying, and the rest of the world might hold them up for ridicule.

In pre-production, the crew specifically addressed this. We decided that there would be no editorializing. Our mission was to capture these stories, preserve a wonderful folk legend from a small community in Alabama. As with any doc, we wanted to treat our subjects with respect.

I may have even dialed up my Southern accent and said once, “Now, we ain’t a bunch of Hollywood liberals here. We’re from Alabama just like you.” (Didn’t seem necessary to mention we were Alabama Liberals, a breed nearly as elusive as the Hollerin’ Thang itself.)

Didn’t work.

I mean, who wouldn’t trust this guy? I don’t look anything like a used car salesperson.

But inspiration did strike Tashina during the fest. She suggest a way around that, a way to get the sputtering film humming down I-65 again. It would require an expansion of crew, but we were surrounded by people willing to put in a little work for nothing more than a bullet point on a resume.

Lucky for us, because that’s exactly our budget for this flick.

As Saturday wound down and the Golden Lions were handed out underneath the glow of the “Southern Golden Globes” (see photo above), we felt refreshed, a new sense of purpose.

It was a great night of Austin Parson hugs, selfies with the aforementioned Mr. Parsons, and photobombs from my 7th-grade band teacher.

Did I mention free booze?

By Sunday, I was exhausted, and the thought of running a youth filmmaker and his Bostonian family to the airport early in the a.m. didn’t seem appealing. Turns out the kid is hella talented, wise beyond his years, and an interesting conversationalist. Also, his dad is a history professor.

After telling them goodbye and accepting a goodie bag they’d put together as a thank-you (complete with Boston Baked Beans, which I LOVE!), I did what anyone who’s had the kind of week I had would do. I went home and slept all day pulled into the parking lot of 2nd & Charles, a used bookstore with enormous breadth and scope.

See, my mind is like a black hole, only instead of soaking in light, it feeds off creative and intellectual endeavors. The more I take on, the more ideas I get.

And it is about time to pursue a new line of scholarship. After all, the fiction and filmmaking are technically hobbies. I have a day job, and there’s an entire niche of fiction that has received little attention from the scholarly community. I might as well be one of the first to find something to say about it.

I won’t say much else, as it’s still germinating, but I’ll give you one hint:

By Spotty11222 at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Sk using CommonsHelper., Public Domain,

Stay tuned for more details.

I should also add that I’m working on another short story, which I hope to debut perhaps around mid-April. Nightingales. (I know, more birds, but this one is very different.)

Oh, yeah, and that day job … I also have a few stacks of essays my students just might expect back in a few hours.

And now I know why I really felt compelled to jot down this short update.

To keep everyone up to date on the film, fiction, and scholarship.

To do a mini-photo dump.

Procrastination. In this area, I have no peers.

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