That Evening Sun director Scott Teems speaks at the Osio.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
That Evening Sun is a classic Southern Gothic tale of two men fighting over land and personal ownership. The film was shot just outside of Knoxville, TN and the director, Scott Teems, is from the south, but he says his most inspirational directors are the European expressionists of the 21st century.
"For me, this movie is about first steps," says Teems, who spoke to a full theater with his director-of-photography Rodney Taylor. "It is about people changing through baby steps."
The storyline follows Abner Meecham, played by long-time character actor Hal Holbrook, who returns to his farm in Tennessee only to find his old enemy—Lonzo Choat—renting it from Meecham's son. In his stubborn, Southern ways, Meecham stays in the guest cabin, because he is "going to take back what is rightfully mine" by driving the Choat family off the property.
Teems adapted the film for the screen by a short story from William Gay, entitled "I hate to see that evening sun go down." The movie also stars Ray McKinnon as Lonzo Choat, Walton Goggins and Meecham's son Paul and Carrie Preston as Choat's wife, Ludie. Although the story and script where longtime in development, it took nearly two years for Teems to consider Halbrook for the lead.
"He wasn't on my radar, but after I saw what (Sean) Penn did with him in Into the Wild, I knew he would be a great Southern farmer," Teems says. "The first thing I learned to do was to trust Hal, because he brought so much to the role just by having over 50 years experience as an actor."
Holbrook's characterization of Meecham, combined with a realistic location for the short story, was exactly was Teems wanted.
"Being from the South, it was very important for me to capture the right place."
That "right place" was a farmhouse Teems and crew came across after driving around near Knoxville for weeks. Ironically, the history the house they used had had a similar land-ownership fight between warring neighbors many years before.
"The place had not been lived in in nearly seven years," says Teems. "Most of the furniture in the movie was actually from the house."
The location also provided a backdrop for Teems to provide a very dark aspect to the film, both in lighting and emotion. Although many people had mentioned how some of the scenes were dimly lit, Teems preferred it.
"I like the dark, but it shows the characters and their story," he says. "I feel it makes the audience pay more attention to who these people actually are through their persona's."
That Evening Sun has been in theaters nearly three months and Teems has enjoyed making it his first feature film.
"My philosophy is that people—both on the screen and behind-the-cameras—are the most important part of the film."