In its 9th year, the Little Rock Film Festival covers the gamut in film, provides a forum for the arts, and throws a week-long party in the process. The arts meet the economy in one of Little Rock’s premier events.
Initially conceived in a partnership between Owen Brainard, Jamie Moses, and Arkansas born filmmaker brothers Brent and Craig Renaud, the festival has become one of the most competitive film festivals in the country. Opening night was a testament to that.
Felix Thompson’s “King Jack,” the coming of age story of a rebellious and scared fifteen year-old kid stuck in a violent and run-down town in upstate New York, received an audience award from the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year, and was perfectly poised to kick off the week’s events.
Directly after the screening last night at Ron Robinson auditorium LRFF Programmer Levi Agee hosted filmmaker Thompson and young actor Charlie Plummer (Jack) in a Q & A.
If you missed it, “King Jack” will be showing again on Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. at the Butler Center. Get there early to save your seat, it’s a film you definitely won’t want to miss. Below, catch an excerpt of the Q & A.
Agee: “How did you approach the casting for this project?”
Thompson: “I think the most important and most terrifying thing is choosing the people that will bring the story to life. … I built the cast around Jack, and when I saw Charlie’s tape, he really changed the role and brought something to Jack, a vulnerability that I hadn’t seen before.”
Plummer: “There was a lot of trust between actor and director … Jack really is pretending to be someone else, his vulnerability aspect is that he doesn’t feel like he fits in with anybody – every teenager has that. It takes a lot of mistakes for him to finally open up and trust somebody.”
Agee: “I hate to ask that cliché question about the environment as a character, but how did you settle on your location?”
Thompson: “We spent a lot of time location scouting, and there were two things we were looking for. One, we wanted it to feel very [quintessentially] American, and two, you could drive by on a highway and you wouldn’t think twice about [the town.] This is a story about forgotten kids in the summer. Growing up for me, summers were really special because everyone’s parents were working.”
Agee: “Are there parts of this project that are biographical?”
Thompson: “The film is definitely inspired by some grain or spark of truth and then [the] imagination takes over. Ultimately I wanted to tell a story about what I think growing up is – learning to care about other people more than yourself.”
Agee: “Charlie how hard was it to get the stunt choreography down?”
Plummer: “We had a fantastic stunt coordinator and he really wanted to make [the violence] look real. … I think we just bonded so much that we all trusted each other so much. … When everybody from the director down to the production assistant is so passionate about the project – you can see a little bit of everyone in the film.”
After the screening the audience took to Cache’s rooftop area for drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Don’t forget to check the program guide for a breakdown of all the film categories – Cinematic Non-Fiction, Golden Rock Documentary, Golden Rock Narrative, LRFFYouth!, Made in Arkansas, and World Shorts. There’s also a party guide, if that’s more your speed.
If you still need a pass head to Sticky Fingerz at 9:00 for Movie Trivia Night – you can win one.