Award winning playwright Katori Hall, who wrote the acclaimed play “The Mountaintop” – which told a fictional story about Martin Luther King’s last night alive at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis – is planning to return to her home city of Memphis to direct her first film, titled “Arkabutla.”
Ms. Hall says that her film, which will be a narrative short, is based on “a true-life incident she witnessed as a teenager,” and will be shot, possibly in black and white, in mid-October, over a four-day period, with a budget of about $30,000-50,000.
The story follows Chauncey, a champion bull rider on the rodeo circuit, who is reunited with his 10-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son, after a long stretch away from home: “To give his kids something of the elation he feels as a bull rider, he buys a Jet Ski for a family visit to DeSoto County’s Arkabutla Lake. When a white lake official sees Chauncey with the Jet Ski, he assumes the recreational watercraft is stolen, leading to a confrontation that causes anger and disillusionment — the sense of hopelessness you take from a situation like that.”
She intends to follow up her short film with her feature film directing debut, which will be a film version of her acclaimed play, “Hurt Village,” which was announced last fall.
As for making her film directing debut Ms hall said: “I don’t think of it as transitioning, I think of it as straddling. I don’t ever want to leave theater. In theater, the fact that you are in the room with the audience means the story is a living, breathing, transmural thing… With film, you’ll reach more people than you would in a theater, but also the visual experience is more all-encompassing.”
With the exception of the role of Chauncey, which might have to be cast out of Memphis, she intends to use local talent for her film, with casting calls for all roles that will be held Saturday (Aug. 29) and Sunday (Aug 30) at Hattiloo Theatre, 37 S. Cooper in Memphis.
Casting is open to all, but people must make appointments to be seen. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.