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Making "The One Who Loves You"

The Ones Who Love You

Set in the 1970’s south, The One Who Loves You is the story of a young singer struggling to make it - against career setbacks, family pressure and personal loss.  The One Who Loves You was written by Beaty Reynolds and directed by Katharyn Grant, it was produced by Reynolds, Grant, and cinematographer Chris Graves.  The film features many Colorado actors, including Katharyn Grant, Briel Dicristofaro, Megan Heffernan, Marty Lindsey, Candy Brown, Martha Harmon Pardee, Donnie Betts, Rhonda Brown, Laura Norman, and Elizabeth Rose.

From a Denver script workshop offered by writer Beaty Reynolds, Ms. Grant fell in love with the characters and story from Reynold’s “calling card” script.  They enlisted a former collaborator, Chris Graves, to serve as Director of Photography, and produced the film over the next two years.  The script has gone through many iterations and name changes, from “Swinging Down Home” to “Carolina Blue,” “The Mighty King of Love,” and, finally, “The One Who Loves You”.  The three produced the film over the past several years; it is now showing at film festivals, with two sold-out screenings at the recent Starz Denver International Film Festival.

Mr. Reynolds wrote the script in the 1986, and used it as his demo in Hollywood.  While it garnered attention, both for Reynolds and in its own regard, even being optioned by Faye Dunaway’s company, it never made it to production.  

The story was inspired by Mr. Reynold’s experience growing up in repressive, parochial, small town; the lead character, Gloria Bethune (played by Ms. Grant) was inspired by the non-conformist spirit of his Aunt Mary.  The producers changed the time period from the 1960s to the ‘70s, for pragmatic reasons (costumes, vehicles, locations and props were more easily managed), but the locale never varied - always Reynold’s native south.   Shooting 21st century Colorado for 1970s Georgia was going to be a challenge.

Ms. Grant had directed several short films, and felt that Mr. Reynold’s script was just the property for her to leap into feature film production as director and star.  “It is so incredibly difficult and challenging on every front,” she said of making a film, “that you have to have a story that, for you, must be told.”

The Grunt Work of Producing

The three producers shepherded the project in every way, not only as director, writer, or cinematographer, but finding and securing locations, finding props and costumes, dressing sets, doing the grunt work that often falls to low-budget filmmakers.  The small crew drove the production cycle of the film - prep/shoot, prep/shoot - rather than allowing a continuous production, making for a long production schedule.  First scenes were shot in August 2009, with some reshoots running to March 2012, though Ms. Grant recalled that “...we shot most of the principal photography in the first six months.  The core of the film was finished at that point.”

The script for The One Who Loves You underwent a myriad of changes as the real world intruded on the production.  The script was initially set in the ‘60s, but it became evident that replicating that era would just be too difficult for a small production.  The feature script was, at one point, rewritten as a short, but, with the length of the short reaching 40-45 minutes, Ms. Grant realized they’d have better luck marketing it as a feature; film festivals more readily book shorter ‘shorts’ than long ones, and there is no market for short films.  Taking what they’d already shot as a core, Mr. Reynolds wrote new first and third acts, and that script became “The One Who Loves You.”

Ms. Grant said that setting the film in the past was critical to developing the character of Roy Hutchins (the wanderer who cons and seduces Grant’s character). “He was not a very good con artist,” she said. “Technology would have made it more difficult for Roy to pull his cons - a quick Google search would have exposed him to anyone.”

To sell Colorado locales as a small southern town the team searched the older parts of Denver and Arvada, and even further afield, for homes and buildings that would play for the place and era.  Wheatridge, Olde Town Arvada, and Longmont yielded several locations - parts of town that were well kept, but that had avoided modern additions and scrape-offs.  “I was able to find everything I needed right here in Colorado - from locations to crew and actors.” said Grant, “The resources here are just amazing, and we made it work - Denver, for the south of forty years ago.”

In addition, according to Ms. Grant, the unusually wet summer of 2009 helped to sell arid Colorado as the humid south.  Producer/Cinematographer Chris Graves was key in making the locations work, “...it was his mission to replicate the look of that era, the color of ‘70s film stock.”

The music behind the film also sold the era.  Veteran Americana singer-songwriter Phil Lee brought a number of songs to the project, enhancing the illusion of a different time and place.


The Ones You Love

Acting and Directing

Kathryn Grant faced a number of challenges in directing and acting in her first feature - along with the stress of serving as a producer as well.  She relied heavily upon her many years of acting experience...and the on-set monitor.  “It was a helpful to be able to watch the monitor and then modulate my performance based on that,” she said, “but sometime there just wasn’t time, and I had to go by feel.”

“I had to trust gut instinct,” Ms. Grant stated, “to doggedly listen to my inner voice, even if it cost a few extra minutes.”

Ms. Grant has been acting since age 13.  “Deep work was my obsession even then,” she said. “All my friends were reading Young Miss, but I was into Brando’s biography.”  Her purpose, acting or directing, is to explore the depths of relationships, characters, and, especially in making a film, to give something authentic to the world.

“What drove me, during all of the time and effort this movie took, was that it became a point of focus.  It was exhilarating, it became an obsession,” she said. “I was motivated by the quality of the writing, the character driven script, the close relationship with Beaty.”

Would she do it again?  Yes.  Ms. Grant noted the difficulty of making the film, but also the fun and the intensity, “It gave us the chance to focus and create something bigger than ourselves—and that was the exhilarating part of it.”


 

Lessons Learned

Making The One Who Loves You yielded all of the problems and constraints familiar to anyone making an ultra-low-budget film: time was tight, money was scarce, there was always too much work.

Ms. Grant noted the extreme  difficulty of scheduling.  People’s schedules were constantly changing, locations were double-booked or became suddenly unavailable, people got sick.  In particular it was difficult to schedule actors.  “Many people don’t want to make your schedule a priority because they don’t take a first-time director seriously, they think this is a hobby for me.” With this film under her belt, and up on her IMDB page, she hopes her next project will be met more with the sense that, yes, she knows what she’s doing.

 

The One Who Loves You is currently on the film festival circuit, and showed at the Denver International Film Festival in November.  See the trailer on the website theonewholovesyoumovie.com. The movie also has a Facebook page.

 

Katharyn Grant is a filmmaker and actress in Colorado. [Katharyn Grant's IMDB page]

Beaty Reynolds is a screenwriter living in Athens, Georgia.  [Beaty Reynolds' IMDB page]

Chris Graves is a Denver-based cinematographer:  [Chris Graves' IMDB page]

Nelson Goforth is a gaffer and electrician, who occasionally dips a toe into the filmmaking pool, in Denver, Colorado.  vimeo.com/goforthfilm