New Locally Produced Movie Coming Soon
I’ve mentioned over the years how our little corner of the world is a hot bed of talent. Our visual art and music scenes have grown and there have even been a few films shot here -- big budget ones with well known stars and low budget films with local actors.
For about two years we’ve been waiting for the premier of local musician and graphic artist turned movie producer J.F. Oakes’ film, The Band Forgettable, which was filmed in Lincoln and Lawrence Counties. Without giving away the plot, it’s about an aging musician and his struggles keeping up the pace of his dying career.
Oakes is a talented man and is no stranger to the spotlight, having been on stages his entire adult life. You may remember we focused on him in 2018 when he won the Josie Award for Best Southern Rock song, “Bless Your Heart.” The Josie awards recognize independent artists. Oakes had a successful career as a singer with the 484 South Band for eight years, and performed all over the region at clubs and auditoriums, opening for country stars and headlining shows.
So I asked him: Why a movie and why now? I wasn’t expecting the answer I got.
Oakes has been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome which affects cognitive functions and memory. His doctor recommended he write for therapy. After mulling the advice for a few days, he decided writing the script was what he needed.
“I wrote the script in three months," he related. Write what you know, they say, so I wrote this story about an aging musician.”
How did he know about movie-making? "The internet is a wonderful thing," he said simply. On the internet, he sat in on master classes with Ron Howard. With the help of the internet, he figured out the equipment he needed, and then learned all he could about using the equipment. Veteran videographer JB Lawrence, who handled all the camera work for his film, helped him. Lawrence is an award winning producer of music videos and film.
Principle shooting took place in Lincoln and Lawrence Counties over a sixteen-day span. Every set is local, including my kitchen.
"I tried to get the best talent available and, fortunately, I have talented friends," Oakes says. "This would be considered a no-budget film."
Oakes plays the lead character, a singer with a successful southern rock band. You’ll see many recognizable faces throughout the film. There are Oakes’ daughter Amanda Rester and local musicians Charlie Hewitt and Tony Norton The Bridge brothers -- Nick and Tyler -- and Kyle Graves are part of the band. A few of the leads were imported from New Orleans, Brandon and Jackson.
"I’m especially proud of the soundtrack," Oakes says. "There’s a lot of good music there.” And that's not surprising. While making a movie may be new to Oakes, making records is something with which he is very familiar. With 484 South, he recorded two albums, and now has two solo albums under his belt. “Our first album actually made money, “ he notes. That's a rarity, I assure you.
Oakes spent two weeks in Memphis recording his part with top drawer studio musicians. But that’s not all. Carey Hudson, well known Americana musician from Hattiesburg, not only contributes to the soundtrack, but has a great scene in the film. Natchez band Learned Hill also makes an appearance.
Because Oakes is doing all post production himself, it has taken a bit longer to make than he thought. “I hope to release it around the first of the year, then it’s off to film festivals," he says. "We’ll see after that.”
Just to be fair, I make an appearance in the film as a somewhat cranky guy. Me? Cranky? I hope it hasn’t been cut in post.
This was a fun project to work on and I believe you’ll be entertained by The Band Forgettable. I’ll let you know when it premieres. Until then, support the arts, my friends.
EDITOR 'S NOTE: Shaw Furlow is a local composer, musician and arts promoter. He produces an internet-based video show -- From the Shadyside -- that spotlights area musical talent and is a consultant to school bands in the region.