By Becca Eis | Echo
The Bridge. Ivanhoes. Handy Andy's Marathon.
These are all familiar places that Taylor students learn to know and love during their time in Upland. Soon, however, the seemingly insignificant corners of Grant County will become more than just a small region amidst the cornfields. Instead, they will be the backdrop of a feature-length film written and directed by senior Andrew Davis.
"The timely story examines differing outsiders in heartland America during a time of evolving cultural, political, and racial identity," reads a press release written by Davis.
The screenplay, entitled "Indiana," is set in modern-day Grant County and explores themes such as the "inevitable connectivity that comes with geography," according to Davis. Davis believes that though his characters come from different backgrounds and perspectives, the fact they reside in the same place can unite them.
The main characters are Chris, a white-supremacist and auto-mechanic, and Chuck, a retired and distant father, played by English Professor Joe Ricke, who both deal with alcoholism. Supporting characters include a group of Christian college students pursuing hip-hop careers on and off campus, struggling with relevant concepts such as race and sexuality throughout the film. Davis hopes that these characters' stories will show his audience that being close-minded and contentious causes us to only hurts ourselves.
"I truly hope this film divides the audience," Davis said. "Some viewers will be frustrated that a white supremacist is a developed character, some conservatives will be perturbed with my decision to include an LGBTQ Christian as a main character. But neither of these characters are 'issues.' They're people, their stories come first. Their identities influence their trajectories, but don't fully define them."
Davis believes his Taylor education has played a large part in preparing him for this large-scale project. He is grateful for the ways every class he has taken have allowed him to learn more about people and the world.
Davis has created 16 short films throughout his time at Taylor. He is currently crowdfunding for his first feature-length film through the "Hometown Heroes" rally on seedandspark.com. Hometown Heroes is a competition focused on films utilizing the resources of their local community. When the campaign ends next month, 10 finalists will emerge from those who have acquired the most followers and been fully funded. From those 10, up to five film projects will be chosen to receive the grand prize, including a total of $25,000 and executive producing by The Duplass Brothers. Winning this competition could potentially open up opportunities for wide distribution.
"(Supporting the film) is worth it in a sense because it's about this place where we are right now," said sophomore Benjamin Bethel, who plays one of the Christian college students. "I think that it speaks so much truth to the different mindset and different perspectives that have come to this school and that sort of interact with the Upland area."
Davis and his team are planning to fit filming into the last two weeks of March and finish editing over the summer. He hopes to premiere the film at a festival early in 2019. Davis sees the film as an opportunity to bring Grant County to the big screen for the first time. He encourages anyone in and outside of the Taylor community to follow his campaign at seedandspark.com/fund/Indiana until Oct. 13.
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