Principal photography for our film begins January 3, 2013. Come on the journey with us …
This project grew from a seed of generosity, when celebrated playwright Willy Holtzman gave actor-writer-director Robert Brink the screen rights to his award-winning play, San Antonio Sunset. Willy’s play re-imagines the character of Robert Johnson and his relationship with the record man. In the tradition of Shakespeare — and Robert Johnson — Willy blends fact and fiction to make an unforgettable piece of dramatic poetry.
Brink began working with dramaturg and writer Talvin Wilks to adapt Holtzman’s story for the screen. Then Brink intensively workshopped the script with a series of great NY actors — in particular, Mfundo Morrison and Amari Cheatom. With director of photography Andres Karu and editor Soham Mehta, Brink began developing a unique camera language to express the story — as if the story were narrated in a Robert Johnson song.
At the heart of this film is the music and narrative style of a great artist, and we’ve put tremendous energy into studying Johnson’s music. Brink has carefully pored through Johnson’s compositions with music consultants Ebonie Smith and Dave Yang. Producer Brent Bettes developed our relationship with the San Antonio Blues Society to partner with us on the film, for what you hear will be at least as important as what you see.
To render Depression Era San Antonio, we plan to adapt existing exterior locations with digital matte work; we will dress cars from the 1920s and 30s, and we’ll create the hotel room on a sound stage. Casting and costuming the crowd in the juke joint for Johnson’s performance — with a bar fight and police bust — will demand talented actors, dance and fight rehearsals and a serious effort in the wardrobe department. We need to rent the original recording gear and acquire several costly vintage guitars, including a spare for Johnson in case one breaks during the bar fight. Lights, camera, insurance, transportation, food, lodging.
Thanks to the hard work of producers Andrew Beck, Brent Bettes, and Brian Love, we have raised enough money to have a shot at making our plans into reality. This May we were extremely fortunate to win an in-kind grant from Off-Hollywood Productions, which will donate color correction services. And the best news of all happened when we won the inaugural Student Film Competition presented by Drew Mayer-Oakes of the San Antonio Film Commission!
With a bit of luck and hard work, when the film is done, we’ll submit the completed short film to festivals worldwide, to offer our vision of this crucial moment in American cultural history. Once people see what we can do, we’ll take this film and get support in making the full feature film story arc.
We’re passionate about this movie, and we hope you’ll join us in making it!