May 14, 2016
By Karin Elton , Marshall Independent
Tyler native Kathy Swanson is returning to her roots to put together an independent film
They say writers should write what they know. For Tyler native Kathy Swanson, what she knows is the Tyler area.
Swanson, who now lives in Vermont with her husband, Vince O’Connell, is returning to her roots this summer to shoot a feature film based on a screenplay she wrote.
The two are producing and directing the “ultra low-budget” independent film, O’Connell said. Swanson wrote the script, which has a working title of “Hap and Ashley.”
The film’s principal photography will be shot in and around Tyler between July 17 and Aug. 16. The two were in Marshall last week to hold auditions for the two lead roles and will have auditions in June for about 30 other roles including featured extras, extras and background actors. Additional auditions will take place in Minneapolis and Sioux Falls, S.D.
The film will serve as Swanson’s and O’Connell’s master of fine arts thesis. After selling a successful manufacturing business 10 years ago, the two decided to attend film school and make movies as a creative outlet.
O’Connell said running a business is a good background for overseeing a film set.
“The production and business aspect, in that we know how to organize a big project,” he said. “That’s something that you do not get in film school.”
The two will employ 24 crew members – “a standard crew, but condensed,” he said.
“Hap and Ashley” tells the story of a farmer who, after selling his farm, rebels against old age by road tripping across the country with his exasperated granddaughter.
“The film has universal themes – a lot of layers,” Swanson said. “It’s a dramatic comedy.”
The film’s characters aren’t based on anyone in particular, O’Connell said, but are an “amalgamation of traits and behaviors of people – some more than others.”
Swanson is looking forward to the prospect of spending a greater amount of time in Tyler this summer. Her father, Howard, still lives in Tyler. Usually the visits are two or three days long two or three times a year.
The main characters have 25 days of filming, while the 21 other roles will have one day to film. The actors and crew will stay at Danebod in Tyler during filming – except for one week which was already booked. During that week the Tyler hotel will be filled as well as other hotels in the area.
Craft services will be from Danebod as well.
“If we’re out filming a couple miles from Tyler, the food will be brought to us,” Swanson said. “We’ll be having lots of picnics.”
When not in Tyler, the pair and their crew will also venture to South Dakota for additional filming.
They will comply with green standards – leaving as small a footprint as possible, which is important to them.
“We will recycle and compost,” said O’Connell. “With the 20 short films we have made, we had the carbon footprint almost down to zero.”
After the film is all wrapped up, the two plan on taking the movie as far as it can go.
“We’ll submit it to the festivals – Sundance, Tribeca, Cannes,” said O’Connell. “Plus, there are other venues such as streaming, direct sales. We’ll travel with it.”