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Bone Creek premieres in front of hometown crowd

by Mark Burger

Bone Creek sounds like a great title for a horror film, but this independent feature film — the fifth completed by Carolina Collaborations — isn’t that kind of movie. This tale of “magic, moonshine and madness” may have its roots in the tradition of Southern gothic, and it definitely has its moments of fantasy and mystery, but that’s about as scary as it gets.

Sorry, folks… this isn’t Quarantine or Saw V; those are playing in other theaters.

In Bone Creek, Alison Walls plays Nora, a young photographer who’s been roaming the back roads of rural North Carolina, looking for something interesting to shoot.

Wishes have a funny way of coming true, and Nora soon finds herself a latter-day Alice in Wonderland, wandering through an “alternative state,” if you will, and getting a first-hand introduction to the myths and folklore of the region — and the music that inspires and accompanies it.

Last Friday, the film premiered at the Carousel Grande Cinemas, with additional evening showings on Saturday and Sunday. Many of the cast and crew, as well as friends, were on hand for Friday’s screening.

Looking none the worse for wear after a hectic shooting and editing schedule, writer/director/editor/executive producer Emily Edwards was pleased to give the hometown crowd the first crack at the Creek.

“We’re very proud,” she says. “It’s chock full of local talent, which was the only way to do it, and we’re talking some name-brand talent.”

For the film’s original music and lyrics, Edwards turned to Max Drake, both a member of the Buzzkillz and a noted solo artist in his own right (he’s opened for the Robert Cray Band and BB King), who came aboard as the film’s music producer. He and Edwards collaborated to create original songs that felt indigenous to the rhythm & blues/rockabilly sensibilities of the film.

“They let me loose!” laughs Drake, who also appears in the film. “I had a great time. As a blues musician, I immediately connected with the subject matter.”

Having suffered a heart attack not long ago, “it’s also been very therapeutic and very nice,” says Drake, who adds that he’s feeling much better and “was thrilled” to be a part of this ambitious project. “Emily made it easy.”

Is Drake ready for another foray into filmmaking? “Oh, my God — yeah!” he says. “This was a challenge, and I love challenges.”

“It’s very much an independent film and our first try at hi-def filmmaking,” says Edwards, “and I’m very proud of the way it looks.”

The cast is peppered with a number of local musicians of some renown, including leading man Logie Meachum, who portrays Israel Summerfield. A long-time local favorite as a musician, storyteller and actor, Meachum also won the O. Henry Award, which recognizes one’s contribution to the region’s arts and cultural development, as presented each year by the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce and the United Arts Council of Greensboro. (Local audiences may also remember Meachum’s appearance in the Oscar-winning 2003 short film Two Soldiers, which was filmed in Greensboro and Winston-Salem.)

Aside from a “sneak peak” as a work-in-progress for film professors and industry insiders in Colorado, this marked the first time that a completed version of Bone Creek film was seen by audiences — and, in some cases, by the very people who made it.

Carolina Collaborations, now in its fifth year, is a program designed to bring film programs from area colleges and universities together and put what students have learned to practical use. In short: Learn about making films and then go make one.

Another consideration is to make these films right here in the region, and to in some way celebrate or dramatize the history and culture of North Carolina. Bone Creek is the fifth film produced by Carolina Collaborations, making it five films in as many years.

The group was co-founded by Edwards, an associate professor of broadcasting and cinema at UNCG, and Michael Corbett, a faculty member at Piedmont Community College in Yanceyville. Corbett and Edwards served as executive producers on Bone Creek, with students from both schools joining forces to work on the production team.

Carolina Collaborations’ previous film, the documentary Scripture Cake, was completed last year and shown at several film festivals. It won both an Award of Excellence and a Technical Merit Award from the Broadcasters Educators Association in Las Vegas — while still a work-in-progress, no less.

Associate producer Doug Mokaren, who’s married to Edwards off-screen and who appears as a revenue agent in the film, noted that Bone Creek is by far the most expensive and expansive effort yet from Carolina Collaborations, having been shot over 18 weekends, on location in Yanceyville, from Sept. 2007 to Feb. 2008. Adding to the pressure is that production was ongoing during the college semester, so both students and teachers were literally working seven days a week — either in the classroom or on the set.

“We got it made,” says producer Ed Moye (who, like a lot of people connected with the film, also has a small role in it), “and it’s got a pretty groovy feel to it.”

The next step is to submit Bone Creek to film festivals and here and abroad. “That’s the plan,” says Moye.

And, of course, to begin work on the next film …

For more information about Bone Creek and Carolina Collaborations, see www.carolina-collaborations.org/index.html

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