Hell’s Half-Acre at the Wild Bunch Film Festival

Our script about Fort Worth, Texas, from 1884-1898, called “Hell’s Half-Acre,” so named for the rough and tumble section of Cowtown at the mid-point of the Chisholm Trail, won Third Place in the feature screenplay competition at the Wild Bunch Film Festival in Wilcox, Ariz., Oct. 22. While it wasn’t a First Place win, it lets us know that there is some merit in the script. That is a good thing. We’ll see what happens with the other festivals.


Hell’s Half-Acre, Revised, selected for two screenwriting contests

It has been a while since I posted anything, because life has been busy. But after four years of massaging “Hell’s Half-Acre,” I finally submitted to a couple of the more well-known screenwriting competitions. I first let friends read it, took their advice, and incorporated their thoughts. All agreed the basic story was there, but some of the characters needed some work.

Once that was done, it was submitted. I’m proud to announce the following:



Orlando Film Festival … coming up

Orlando, Fla., is one of my favorite towns in the United States … well, part of it is. Some of my best memories from childhood were made there, my wife and I honeymooned there, and we’ve taken our children there several times for Disney World and other attractions. Now, I can add to that the Orlando Film Festival. I am very much looking forward to it, from October 22-26. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and catch the film, The Man Left Behind, at the festival. Invite your veteran friends. I’ll post the schedule for the festival as soon as we have it.

See you in Orlando.

Orlando Film Festival

Houston … we don’t have a problem

Coming off of the Gwinnett Center International Film Festival (GCIFF) in August, I was more than a little depressed … not depressed really, but “down” because I knew the end of the run for The Man Left Behind on the film festival circuit was drawing near.  We were nominated for “Best Direction” and “Best Documentary” at the Gwinnett Festival. It was a nice festival, but there were many other films I felt would more easily win. A film about the golden age of ice skating won in our category.

It is nice to hear positive comments about your film, and even nicer to win critical acclaim. At this point, I’d surrender some of the acclaim for a nice break-even payday on it. But I didn’t go into this thinking, “We’re going to make so much money!” That’s not at all why we did it. We had a higher purpose. I was reminded of that just after I left Georgia.

Following that GCIFF, we began receiving rejection notices from other festivals. These were festivals where I knew I was likely wasting money on the entry fee. They were well-established and it seems the more outlandish and socially controversial the films are, the further they progress in such festivals. There’s little room for faith, family and patriotism in them. If there is a film about these, it is about repressive Christianity, the “modern family,” or something our military did wrong.  Clearly, our film runs contrary to that trend. In that way, it isn’t “conservative.” It bucks the trend.

Anyway, after a few-weeks-long pity party, we received the pleasant news that The Man Left Behind will appear at the “Bayou City Inspirational Film Festival” in Houston in early October. I’m happy to be a part of it. We are one of their few “official selections.” I’ll be there for the festival, I hope. I also hope we’ll receive positive news from the Orlando Film Festival, Indie Memphis Film Festival and the Carmel Film Festival in California (not hopeful there, but we made one in San Diego). We shall see. These notifications will be our last for this first film.

It has been a fun ride. If what we did brings honor to God, then I’m happy with the result.


Another win … another festival

In my last post, I wrote that we had been selected for two more festivals. We won neither of those, but we’ve heard good things about the film from both. The people who saw The Man Left Behind seemed to enjoy it. Since then, we’ve been to two other festivals.

The George Lindsey UNA Film Festival was held in Florence, Ala., the home of George Lindsey, or as many knew him, “Goober” Pyle. Lindsey was a big supporter of his alma mater, the University of North Alabama, and of independent film. He funded the film festival annually until he died a few years ago. Since then, his family and his best friend’s family have funded the festival.

When we showed our film, we had a full theater. At the end of the film we received a great ovation. There were many tears shed that day, and one veteran in particular — who was listening to the radio at Khe Sanh on the night of the attack — was there for the showing. He was complimentary of the film.

Best of all, we were selected as Best Professional Documentary at the festival. It was nice to give a “win speech.”

So our total festival count so far is two wins in seven festivals … no, wait. eight! We received word that we’ll be included as an Official Selection at the Glen Rose Neo-Relix Film Festival March 28-29. This one, thankfully, is just down the road in the Hill Country. I’ll be attending and hoping for another win.

Two more festivals …

The Man Left Behind was selected for the Central Florida Christian Film Festival and also the Fort Myers Independent Film Festival. We are awaiting word on the winners for the CFCFF, which was held this past weekend, Feb. 21-23. The Fort Myers festival is toward the end of March. An overnight in Fort Myers might be in order.

Still here …

My father told me one time about how the VC operated in Vietnam when an area was pounded by air power and artillery. There might be a sustained bombardment for some time, but eventually it would stop. A few minutes later, you’d then hear the report from a rifle letting you know that “Charlie” was still there.

Let this little post be our “report” that we are still here and still working toward the distribution of The Man Left Behind. And we have good news to report. I reported already that we won Best Documentary at the Dixie Film Fest in Athens, Ga., in October 2013. A few weeks later, we didn’t win in Oklahoma at the Red Dirt International Film Festival, but we were separated from the winner by only a fraction of a point. We took home a nice “honorable mention.”

We then made our way to the Mississippi Sun & Sand Film & Music Festival in November in Biloxi. We didn’t win there either, but it was nice to be an Official Selection. Things were quiet over the holidays, but we’re getting cranked back up now.

The first festival notification of the season came out earlier this week. We are one of a handful of documentaries named an Official Selection at the George Lindsey UNA Film Festival in Florence, Ala. The festival was originally started by none other than “Goober” himself, Mr. George Lindsey. I watched him as a child on Andy Griffith reruns.

The good thing about this festival is that it is more selective and will have “eyes” there that could help us with the placement of the film. Keep us in your prayers from March 6-8. A win there would be nice.

Hell’s Half Acre named a quarterfinalist with Act One Screenwriting Competition

Fort Worth’s row of saloons and gambling establishments in the 1880’s was known as “Hell’s Half Acre.” It’s the place where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, along with the Wild Bunch, sought refuge. It is the place where Luke Short gunned down Long-Hair “Jim” Courtright. Now, in a new screenplay from Christus Films, it is the setting for the tale of two brothers, Dwight and Elijah Whitlock, who clash with each other over their turbulent past.

Evoking strong biblical imagery from the stories of Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau and Joseph, the story follows Elijah as he struggles with his commitment to right and the memory of his minister father. Dwight descends into drunkeness and violence and becomes “the king of Hell’s Half Acre.”

This feature film script has been selected as a quarterfinalist in the Act One Screenwriting Competition in Los Angeles. The competition, provided and supported by Christian professionals in the entertainment industry, will notify of the selection of semifinalists in October, finalists in November, and the winner of the competition in December. We’ll wait patiently and see what happens.

MLB an official selection at the Dixie Film Fest Oct. 4-6

The documentary, The Man Left Behind, is an official selection for the Dixie Film Fest, Oct. 4-6, 2013 in Athens, Ga. We’re still trying to work out the details of whether or not we’ll be there (we were just notified last week and have some other things to reschedule).

This is a significant event for us. Our strategy has been to approach the festival circuit mostly in the southern and midwestern states were values and faith are still topics of discussion. We submitted to three festivals in the Northwest and failed to gain entry at all three. It was a test case, but confirmed what we knew. Terry Knox, who narrated the film, also said, “Yep. Thought so.”  That’s a paraphrase, and he should know since he has retired to the area.

But we’ll keep plugging away. Hoping for selections in Ashville, N.C., Jackson, Miss., Dallas, Texas and many others. We’ll keep you posted.

Disappointed … not so fast

Just got a notice from the GI Film Festival. We won’t be screened there (I am a little disappointed). But we have an offer for screening on the Pentagon Channel … which is on every U.S. military base in the world and on cable and satellite (34 million viewers worldwide). Our concern was getting a solid testimony about Christ in front of military men and women. How’s that for a big God?