On Location

Written by Mari Farthing in the January 2014 Issue

Movie PosterIt’s called the magic of Hollywood—that special ability to recreate anything on a sound stage. Places and times created from nothing on a movie lot, transporting the audience to that moment created in the imagination of the cast and crew. But filmmaker William Tyler didn’t want any part of it. He knew that for his film, The Long Drive Home, only one location would do. As the writer, director and co-producer of the film set in Oklahoma, the production was also filmed completely in the state, using a local cast and crew.

“Using an all-Oklahoma cast and crew was most certainly important to me because it shows that the talent is here,” says Tyler. “It shows that Oklahoma can make movies, and good ones.”

Oklahoma Filmmaking

“Filming in Oklahoma was easy,” says Tyler, which made it even more enjoyable to create his film in his home state. From securing locations to having highway patrol shut down a road, the genuine friendliness of the community created a very positive atmosphere.

The local filmmaking community is booming. Tyler estimates that there are likely half a dozen films being shot at any given time. “Those could be shorts, features or even music videos,” he explains. “I’m not talking big-budget Hollywood films, I’m talking local indies by filmmakers who have a passion to bring their visions to the screen and tell a story you normally wouldn’t see in ‘Hollywood’ films.”

Keeping it Local

Cast & CrewFilming on The Long Drive Home was done all around the state—indoor and outdoor locations around the metro, Tyler’s childhood town of Lindsay and the roadways in between. Oklahoma provided the scenery and setting, often standing in for events occurring in Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi. While filming locally was an easy choice, it wasn’t without challenges. “Aunt Fran’s house in Mississippi was actually an old house in Sulphur.” The crew spent four weeks on location, often filming in 113-degree heat. They even filmed in a house without lights or air-conditioning—something Tyler can laugh about now.

The car scenes were another source of amusement. Because of the film’s limited budget, road scenes could not be filmed using a green screen and filled in during post-production, which provided a logistical challenge. “There were three actors, a sound guy and me in a car—all at the same time. We started off having the car pulled on a truck, but we couldn’t get the shots.” Several times, Tyler found himself sitting on the floorboard on the passenger side of the car, holding the camera and filming while the actors drove.

During one scene filmed at a gas station just outside Paul’s Valley, word got out and brought their production to a halt. The film crew arrived and set up to get shots for an important conflict scene between several characters. “Every now and then, customers would stop to get gas or buy a drink,” says Tyler. “Then I guess the word spread that there was a film crew and it just got swamped.” There were so many people who came to see what was going on that the crew had to wait for the location to clear out before they could continue filming again.

Ready for Action

Filming in a carAs a teen, Tyler made movies with his friends in Lindsay, but never dreamed that he would be able to continue as an adult. “People didn’t make movies in Oklahoma—boy, things have changed!” He became interested in making films at just eight years old, after seeing Titanic in a theater for the first time. As the first epic film he had seen, it left a strong impression on him. “It blew my mind,” he recalls. “I saw it with a large audience, and to hear how they reacted at certain scenes during the film lit a fire in me from that day to now. I want to move people who watch my films; I want to make them think.”

Tyler isn’t a filmmaker who likes to do things by someone else’s guidelines. “I’m a film school dropout,” he says, “I hated being told, ‘This is how you make films and tell stories’ because it’s how they do it in Hollywood.” It makes sense that this Oklahoman wants to be a pioneer in filmmaking, striking his own claim on a well-established industry. “I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to tell a story in film,” continues Tyler. “Seeing a film done in a completely different way than the norm grabs my attention because it’s fresh.”

Synopsis

The Long Drive Home tells the story of a modern Southern family struggling to maintain connections while not letting go of their opinions and secrets. When Susan calls her children to Aunt Fran’s house for the funeral of their grandmother, bringing their dementia-afflicted uncle along for the ride is just the beginning. This simple road trip turns into a life-changing journey for their entire family.

The film premiered at the 10th Annual Bahamas International Film Festival

youtube.com > The long drive home, trailer 1

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