One brother dreams of Taylor Swift.
Olympic gold medal figure skater Tara Lipinski haunted his dreams before Travis Hedges Williams rewrote the script.
Taylor Swift seemed a more attainable goal, more accessible. Besides, she lives in Nashville, which is a drivable distance from Baton Rouge. Nine hours to be exact.
Which provides just enough time for film stops along the way.
“We were trying to figure out how we would do this at a minimal cost,” Williams said. “Then we decided to make it a mockumentary. That way, we could get away with the hand-held camera work, and we wouldn’t have to frame our scenes.”
Otherwise, Williams would have had to travel to Nashville with a film crew when making his 28-minute film The Taylor Swift Stalker. The film debuted on July 6 with two other shorts, Prescription Strength Abstinence and Pitching Twilight on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com.
This is the first time Hedges Productions has debuted its work on YouTube. That’s the name of Williams’ film company, Hedges Productions, which usually stages a premier screening in a local theater.
Last year, the company celebrated 10 years of local filmmaking with screenings of past films at Baton Rouge Little Theater. But this year, YouTube was a better fit.
“We’re still planning a future screening, but YouTube is better for the premiere, because we’re able to reach more people,” Williams said. “A lot of people aren’t able to make the screening, but they can call the film up on YouTube and watch it. There was a time when YouTube wasn’t equipped for this, but it has progressed over the years, and it’s a great resource for us.”
YouTube also can expose Williams’ films to viewers throughout the world. Moviemakers have been discovered through the website. You never know who may be on the lookout for new talent.
In the meantime, Williams is planning to start working on his master’s degree in library science at LSU in the fall. Some people may say libraries are going by the wayside, giving way to the Internet, but Williams sees it differently.
“I’ve always loved libraries,” he said. “And with the way things are changing in the way we store information, I think our libraries will change.”
Besides, a library is the perfect workplace for a filmmaker. All research materials will be at Williams’ fingertips, even information that may not be on the Internet but only in books.
“I still love books,” Williams said. “I like holding them, reading from them, taking them with me.”
There’s just a simplicity to reading a book. Williams applied that simplicity to his filmmaking when traveling to Nashville.
The Taylor Swift Stalker is the third and longest film in Hedges Pictures’ Summer Shorts Series on YouTube.
“I wanted to explore the idea of ?how far is too far to go in order to chase a dream?,’” Williams said. “One brother, my character, blindly leaps for his dreams, while the other brother has given up on all his wishes in order to be rigidly practical.”
Williams had been working on this idea for a number of years, but Lipinski was the original target of his character’s dream. Then Swift came on the music scene, and her popularity skyrocketed.
She lives in Nashville, which presented better filming opportunities. And to borrow from the mindset of Williams’ character’s brother, pursuing Swift was more practical.
“As they drive from Baton Rouge to Nashville, they play off of each other, hoping to find some middle ground if there is any,” Williams said.
“It’s also very funny, lots of references to pop culture and, like any road trip movie, they encounter plenty of obstacles along the way, including an angry mob in Alabama and the seduction of line dancing in Tennessee.”
Williams’ character’s name is Marty. Kurt Hauschild plays his brother Erwin. Williams also directed this film. Jeffery Johnson also stars.
“My character believes that if he can just meet Taylor Swift, his life will change and he’ll realize all of his dreams,” Williams said.
And does he meet the country superstar?
“Well, I’ll just say that they make it to Nashville,” Williams said.
Meaning, viewers will have to catch the movie on YouTube to find out what happens. Besides, isn’t it always the journey that has more meaning?
“We would talk about the film and see places that were good for potential scenes along the way,” Williams said. “We’d discuss whether or not we wanted to film there, and if we did, we’d stop and shoot a scene. So, everything you see in this film was shot on the road.”
Williams’ trio of films opens with the two-minute film Prescription Strength Abstinence, which spoofs television commercials advertising new medications and listing potential side effects. It stars Ronald Coats and Briana Drescher.
“This is actually the shortest film we’ve ever done,” Williams said. “It’s funny, and we thought it would be fun to open the festival with an advertisement.”
The commercial spoof is followed by Pitching Twilight, which places the viewer behind a security camera.
“The audience will look at this and wonder if it was caught on a security camera,” Williams said. “And they’ll wonder if they’re actually seeing the author of the Twilight series, Stephenie Meyer, pitching her first book to the publisher.”
Then upon closer examination, viewers will realize the scene supposedly caught by the security camera is a story within itself - Williams’ story imagining exactly how Myers pitched this series.
“The Twilight series of books and movies is so popular, and we thought it would be fun to play with pop culture,” Williams said. “And it was a lot of fun.”
Pitching Twilight stars Charlynn White as Meyer and Bill Martin as the publisher. Both are local theater favorites and award-winning actors at Baton Rouge Little Theater.
And finally, The Taylor Swift Stalker wraps up the series. This is the 16th film in the Hedges Pictures repertoire, all of which are available for viewing at http://www.hedgespictures.com.
Now, when watching The Taylor Swift Stalker, viewers also will notice the movie’s soundtrack. Music for this film was provided by local musicians Denton Hatcher and Luke Ash. The music sets the film’s mood.
“And it really made a difference,” Williams said. “We’re really grateful to them for working with us.”
So, set aside a few minutes this summer for a mini-vacation to Nashville.
And join two brothers in their quest.