Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Engineering a More Modest Cannonball Run

The name of the production company responsible for coming-of-age comedy Cannonball, screening Friday July 16th on its hometown turf of Danville, Kentucky, is Walk Softly Films. And the proverbial big stick in this case is actually Bigsquatch, a mythical backwoods creature that plays a pivotal role in the story of three small town friends struggling to cope with the disappointment of their lives.

The title of the film comes from the fact that the plot is set in motion when wrestler Captain Cannonball decides to segue from the ring to the breakfast cereal business, leaving 35-year-old copywriter and lead protagonist Tony Dedman (Todd Shene) in mid-career lurch. When writer-director Scott Stafford and his pals first sat down to hatch a movie in 2002, their plan was to focus on some sort of Bigfoot narrative. But because dozens of Sasquatch-themed movies popped up in the interim, they wound up relegating that narrative element to a hazier, sub-plot level.

"When we began shooting Cannonball, exactly one of our actors had acting experience and it came from community theater," Stafford explains in his Director's Notes. "Since I was directing and also spending much of my time in front of the camera, we had to find someone to put behind it... So we did what any true filmmaker would do. We drafted my Dad."

Cannonball got a warm response when it premiered in February at the Derby City Film Festival and went on to be highlighted in April by Microfilmmaker Magazine as a Best in Show selection. The DVD has been available since the Derby City debut and though submissions to other film festivals continue, Friday's screening at the Community Arts Center in Danville will mark another nice little milestone for this long-gestating, Dad-assisted project.

The humorous strands that connect the three principals of Walk Softly Films and Cannonball are also evident when reading the company website's "About Us" section. The commercial production outfit was "founded by three drifters, brought together by their love for storytelling, shrubbery sculpture and a deep desire to get off the streets... These Kentuckians were taught to read and write at an early age and, beating all odds, have gone on to employ those skills in pursuits other than handicapping horse races or issuing written demands for the ouster of whomever is currently serving as the University of Kentucky men's basketball coach." Funny stuff.



  1. Nice piece, Richard. Interesting stuff.

    And so true re: the last graf's "written demands for ouster" -- that really does seem to be a favorite pastime of many Kentuckians!

  2. Hi Brent:

    Glad you liked it, thanks.

    There is much more humor in the press kit for CANNONBALL, including the observation that every Sasquatch straight-to-video movie in the past ten years seemed to feature Lance Henriksen.

    If you're marketing a comedy, it sure makes sense to have fun with the PR materials.