I really wanted to get this post out yesterday for Halloween, but I was out of town working during the day yesterday. My friend Frank and I took a large, inflatable movie screen and projection equipment to a school for an event they were hosting and help them show movies to all of their students throughout the day.
And last night, I, along with my fellow bank employees, gave out over 1,000 bags of candy and almost as many bags of popcorn to trick-or-treaters here in Hyden. Town was filled with zombies, princesses, ogres and ninjas. My favorite costume as a man dressed as a "One Night Stand!" He was hilarious!
But I wanted to get this post out for Halloween because it includes my take on an old Appalachian "Haint" tale. And usually once November rolls around, folks are sick of ghosts and ghouls. But since my Papaw is featured prominently in this, I'm going to share it anyway.
A few years ago, just before Tracie and I got married, I participated in an online film festival where you wrote, shot and edited a short film is 72 hours. I usually don't make fiction films, as documentary and news is where I'm more comfortable and passionate. But this sounded fun and I had an idea that I'd wanted to do for a while, so I thought, "Why not?". I wrote a rough script, cast all family to be in it and shot it as quickly as I could. I knew that to pull off what I wanted, there would need to be a couple special effects shots and some makeup, so that would be interesting to pull off.
While filming, we were set up in front of the bank where I now work. I was standing in the alleyway holding a large knife with bright lights shining in the middle of the sidewalk. This is not something that happens every day in Hyden, KY, so when blue lights started flashing during one of my takes, it was a little strange. But once I heard one of the police officers holler, "Is that you, Joel? Oh, Ok!" and then drive off, we got back to committing fake murder in the street. That's one of the many benefits of filming in a small town!
The story takes place in flashback and is told from an elderly narrator. I thought my grandfather, who is not a trained actor, would LOVE to do this and I was right. He took to acting like a duck to water. Working with Papaw, along with my wife, my mother, my sister and a cousin, made this film a true family affair. We had a lot of fun filming, even though we didn't have nearly enough time to get it "perfect," it was still a blast to shoot.
There is a tradition of "She done me wrong" stories in Appalachian culture and I went with that concept as a starting off point for this short. This isn't one that I've shared a lot over the years as there are some technical stuff in there that drives me nuts. But my Papaw loves it and if nothing else, it is a family memory that we can always share. I hope you enjoy this modern take on an Appalachian campfire tale. This is "Goodnight, Sweetie"