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Oklahoma filmmaker makes debut at deadCenter Film Festival

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When the script for The Foreverlands found its way to a few regional filmmakers who wanted to direct the short film, writer Kyle Kauwika Harris decided to do it himself.

“After seeing others gravitate toward it, I thought, ‘I want to do this,’” he said. “We filmed it in six days for $6,000. I raised the money — well, I took out loans. My wife didn’t like it, but I did it anyway.”

The 27-minute short, filmed in Tuttle, Minco and Meers, follows a drifter named Ace (Zac Abbott) who meets a man on a deserted road.

Henry Bonneville (Mark Adam Goff) offers lost souls a chance for revenge, but it’s up to Ace to decide what to do with that chance.

Though it was nominated for best original concept, best cinematography and best actor at the Independent Horror Movie Awards in February, Harris said the film has more of a supernatural psychological suspense vibe.

“I don’t really like violence in my films, or at least not direct violence,” he said. “I’d rather hide all of that, and the cursing and obscenities, through a more mature dialogue.”

Though Ace suffers a traumatic event early in his life, Harris said he chose to show it more subtly.

Much as Henry gives lost souls the means to do his will, Harris is more interested in giving the audience the pieces to put together the backstory, rather than just throw it all up on the screen.

It’s still not perfect, of course. He said an extra $1,000 and another day of shooting were on his wish list, just to deal with a few unexpected troubles along the way.

“There were a lot of bumps in the road filming it,” he said. “You just can’t predict what’s going to happen. Driving down a dirt road in the middle of the night in November, you aren’t sure how cold it’s going to be or when other cars are going to come along. Little things like that.”

But he’s going to have an opportunity to make changes, as he’s already working on a feature-length film version of The Foreverlands loosely based on the book of Job.

He wants to film it next year in Cimarron County, taking advantage of the dusty, haunting elements of the area.

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“I’m really thrilled by imagery,” he said. “I want to explore the eerie atmospheres these people exist in. The feature will have more time to get into the dynamics of the relationship between Ace and Henry and we’ll get to touch on other characters a lot more.”

He hopes to marry the desolate horror tone with the reverence of Tommy Lee Jones in No Country for Old Men.

The short film screens June 11 and 12 in the Not So Short Shorts program at deadCenter Film Festival. The festival runs June 8-12 in venues across downtown Oklahoma City.

This is the first year Harris applied to deadCenter, and he and his crew are excited to be included.

“It’s been nominated five times, and we’re going to six or seven festivals already,” he said, “but getting into deadCenter our first time is pretty exciting.”

Print headline: Forever first, Oklahoma filmmaker Kyle Kauwika Harris got into deadCenter his first time out with The Foreverlands.

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