The Little Rock Film Festival will be filled with new films from across the country, but many do not know that one film in particular was filmed in our own back yard.
"Sacred Hearts, Holy Souls," a film by Mark Thiedeman, was filmed partially in Conway and features a host of UCA student actors and aspiring filmmakers. The film follows the life of a young man, Max, in a Catholic school. Battling emotions that are labeled unholy and against God himself.
"This is a project that was very personal for me; it’s fiction, and a kind of fantasy in some ways, but it’s largely based on experiences I had going to Catholic schools, and it was important to me that the actors were three-dimensional and sympathetic—even Schafer’s malicious bully. They all nailed it, and I’m very proud of them," said Thiedeman, "It deals with all my usual themes—traumatic youth, sexuality, religion, loneliness, isolation, etc.—but it packages them into a more kinetic product."
"I really loved working on the set because you were treated very professionally by all the cast and crew. Mark’s vision is really good. He sees what he likes and is able to convey that to his actors," said UCA student, Harrison Trigg.
The filming of "Sacred Hearts, Holy Souls," found frames in many Arkansas venues.
"We filmed all over: Arkansas School for the Deaf, UCA, Quapaw Quarter Methodist Church, Pizza D," sad Thiedeman. "It was, as Indie films often are, a hodgepodge of locations designed to look collectively like one space. Ideally, we would have shot in one location, and we had a couple in mind, but unfortunately, yes, we did have trouble getting access. I got more no’s on this shoot than any other thus far."
The crew spoke to the Catholic Diocese, but was denied access for filming.
Thiedeman said that although the content of his film is close to home that he hopes it will touch the hearts of many.
"I hope that it gives people a clear understanding of what life was like for me in high school and what life is like for so many bullied kids across America, and that they’ll root for Max, our hero, and want to get to know him," said Thiedeman.
The cast was made up mostly of University of Central Arkansas students. The three leads, Harrison Tanner Dean, Quinn Gasaway, and Schafer Bourne, have background in the theatrical arts. Gasaway, from North Little Rock, played Andy, the focus of Max’s affection in the film.
"The three lead boys all have a background in theater, and they’re very smart actors, very humble, and very open to experimentation. They also have different styles of acting that really bounced well off each other," said Thiedeman.
The hard work and dedication of the entire cast and crew did not go unnoticed by Thiedeman.
"The entire cast and crew for "Sacred Hearts Holy Souls should be spotlighted, and I’m really lucky to have a supportive team that has been building over the years and to have added some new faces to the mix," he said. "This is the biggest cast and crew I’ve ever worked with, and everyone did an excellent job, but in particular, I’d say that my producers, Elizabeth Strandberg and Tony Taylor, went out of their way to make sure the project ran smoothly and efficiently, and it really did. They were lifesavers; they both worked very hard, and were completely dedicated to the film. And, as always, my longtime photographer David Goodman, who I went to NYU with and who has shot four of my films now, is an integral part of the film."
Thiedeman continues to spotlight others, such as Keith Hudson, a UCA film student, for his continued support of past films including "Sacred Hearts, Holy Souls." Hudson acted as camera assistant and fight coordinator.
"[Hudson] is, simply put, one of the hardest working college students I know, and his work ethic is always impressive to me," said Thiedeman.
The film will be presented at the Little Rock Film Festival on May 14 at 7 p.m. in the REP.
For a complete listing of films at the Little Rock Film Festival, visit thelittlerockfilmfestival.org.