Sahkanaga is coming home and will be playing in Chattanooga five times a day October 12th through 18th at the Majestic downtown. This is the film that John Summerour wrote and directed and produced. Lots of people and organizations from this community and many others helped in seemingly endless ways to bring this movie to fruition. Since many of you will get to see it for the first time that week, I’m going to share some of my thoughts about the film as well as some of the photos I took as we made the movie during June of 2009.
Hollywood movies are made and get to the screen fairly quickly because they have lots of one thing that we didn’t have much of in making Sahkanaga. Money. But we did have donations. Of all sorts. Time and food and labor and locations and vehicles. People actually moved out of their homes while we filmed there. The actors and most of the crew worked for free. Almost everyone involved in the various aspects of making the film worked for no pay. I can’t even begin to name the ways in which people and organizations helped. Trust me – it was almost overwhelming. I came away with a real sense of peoples’ generosity.
The film was shot here in Walker County, Georgia. It captures the natural beauty of this county as well as the complexity of the South. Its plot is based on an inexplicable true event that happened 10 years ago, and it doesn’t try to answer the questions that even today remain unanswered. Though the film is fictional, a coming-of-age story of a teenaged boy, it portrays many of the emotions that people in our community experienced during the actual event. Google “crematory scandal,” and this particular scandal will be the first entry that pops up. Here is that entry from Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tri-State_Crematory
But this post isn’t about the crematory scandal. It’s about making Sahkanaga. We shot for just over three weeks in several locations. It was June in the South. It was hot. Especially the days we shot in downtown Chickamauga. Movie-making is tedious. There is so much work in setting up a scene, and then you shoot for a few seconds, or a minute, or two minutes. Not long. And then you go to the next set-up and start all over. Because of that tedium, I have no idea why anyone would want to be an extra (or what they really call those people in movies – “background” – because that’s all you are. Background for the main characters). You sit around and wait and wait and wait. And then your scene may not even make it into the movie. But films need extras, background. It’s a good thing that everyone doesn’t feel as I do.
It was a huge undertaking to pull all of these movie-making requirements together, but John managed to do just that. He made a film. A real film that shows on the big screen (and will be out on DVD) and which has traveled the United States and even a couple of other countries as a part of many film festivals. A film that is finally playing on the big screen “back home.” So if you live in the Chattanooga area, come out sometime between October 12th and 18th to see “our” film show on the big screen. It’s a film for adults and mature teenagers. It’s not for children because it deals with mature themes. And if you were personally affected by the crematory scandal, be aware that you will likely feel some strong emotions as this situation is brought to life on the screen.
But that’s what good art does. It makes us feel and think and ponder and feel some more.
I think Sahkanaga does that. I’m proud of the film – and am especially proud of John for making this dream of his become reality. I’m looking forward to seeing it play here, “back home.” John will be here that whole week.
Please join us.
Links for the teaser and articles about the film: