This guest post is written by Wade Sellers, filmmaker of Lou Dischler’s “Lola’s Prayer” for the Expecting Goodness Short Film Festival and founder of Coal Powered Filmworks, an independent film and commercial production company in Columbia, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1996 with a degree in Media Arts. He had the same kind of childhood so many other filmmakers have had. His parents had a 8mm camera and he invited all of his friends over to the house on Saturday to make a movie. Living in Atlanta, GA many, many years ago, he delivered office supplies during the day and played music at night, having no thoughts of a career in filmmaking.
Walking in downtown Atlanta on a delivery and saw huge lights and semi trucks; he thought he’d take a look (if you have a box of office supplies, you can get in anywhere). He began working in the film biz carrying heavy equipment from one place then taking it back to the other place about 17 years ago. He’s a Producer, Director, Editor and Writer. Pretty good at them all too. But what he loves most is concepting a project. Grabbing an idea that was nothing a second ago and figuring out how to communicate the story with pictures.
Chris White sent me a link notifying me about the Expecting Goodness Short Film Festival. Once I read through the concept I was immediately hooked. I have produced and directed many of my own short films, most written by myself, some in collaboration with others. Big on my list was to eventually adapt someone else’s work. When I read through the stories in the book I had trouble finding a way I could interject my voice into them. I should have started reading at the beginning. “Lola’s Prayer” is the first story in Expecting Goodness, and by the second page I knew this was the story I could adapt. As I turned the pages and was introduced to the different characters I began casting immediately. Columbia has such a rich talent pool of actors, many of which I have worked with before, that it seemed like a great opportunity to bring everyone together.
Adapting a short story is new to me. I have written many scripts, for my own work and for commercial work; never from a short story. I worked through a first draft, which was essentially pulled straight from Lou Dischler’s pages. There are things, however, that are difficult to communicate to film. It’s a beautifully written story, but is mainly driven by Lola’s internal monologue and an omniscient point of view. I cannot stand narration in film, so the hard part began–how do we show these things to the audience and remain faithful to the story. I decided to get in touch with Lou and discuss his point of view on the story and how my thoughts may fit in. He was completely open to an adaptation that took the sense of what he wrote and delivering it in a visual sense. Four drafts later we have a story that is faithful to the story, but communicates Lola’s character and her interaction with her world in a cinematic way.
Our budget is limited, but once again the indie film community in the area responded. My needs were for a small, but talented, crew that could get us from location to location without sacrificing the vision that has been established for the film. I have always admired how the independent arts community, overall, in the area takes ownership of a project and works towards its completion. The response is most humbling.
This is a new experience. Every time we have begun production on any project there is a big twinge of excitement. This is why we do what we do. This is how we express ourselves, tell our stories. To have others willing to give their time, talent and efforts to the completion of that work is incredibly humbling.
We begin production of Lola’s Prayer on February 19th and finish up the weekend of the 25th and 26th of February.