Independent feature films are increasingly popular these days. Indie feature films shot in Louisville are a little more scarce. Indie feature films shot in Louisville by Louisville natives are even more difficult to come by. And until recently a search for an independent feature, shot in Louisville by a filmmaker born and raised here, that just happens to be a romantic bowling comedy would have returned zero results. But as I said, that was until recently.
On Wednesday I was fortunate enough to be invited to stop by the set of Split, the romantic bowling comedy I mentioned earlier. Split is also the feature film debut for director Jamie Buckner, who attended DeSales High School, and is, from what I can gather, a very nice guy. Buckner was very nice guy enough to answer a few questions literally in between shooting scenes for the film.
Split tells the story of an over-achieving woman, with a thing for bowlers, and her search to marry the man of her dreams in under a month. A synopsis whose ticking clock is paralleled by the production’s 18-day shooting schedule. But from what I can tell, Buckner is cool with the pressure. With only a few days left of shooting, the crew’s morale, or at least their ability to appear joyful and enthusiastic when a writer walks by, remains unworn. In my time on set I make particular maneuvers to dodge a secret Santa remote controlled car.
Buckner, who also wrote the script, notes that this is the first film to meld the popularity of bowling films such as The Big Lebowski and Kingpin, with the boy-meets-girl romantic comedy.
“As a filmmaker, everybody goes through their time where they want to change the world with cinema and make their Citizen Kane, but as I went through that sort of wave I came out on the other end of it and was like ‘But what are the movies I really like? What really just makes me smile? If I’ve had a bad day what do I pop in?’ and it would always come back to comedies, romantic comedies specifically.”
The bowling aspect of the equation comes from many different places. Buckner explains, “I grew up around bowling. My parents have been in bowling leagues since I can remember. I basically grew up in a bowling alley.” He also touches on the thematic importance of the game.
“The entire movie is about finding where you belong and ultimately coming to that realization of where you fit. And bowling’s been doing that as a sport. There are a lot of people that just want it to be what it was in the 70s and 80s. And there was a big push to do that a few years back, and I think now it’s comfortably nestling into this area where it’s just like ‘look we’re bowling. We’re a sport that people are always going to love,’”
Having answered my questions about the plot and genre, I ask Buckner, who spent eight years in New York, to touch on what it means to make his first feature in Louisville and why, other than it being much cheaper to make a film in your own hometown, this city is so important. “Thematically with the movie it just kind of fits.”
Referring to bowling’s identity crisis, “I think Louisville is sort of that way… I love being from here because of who we are. We’re not quite the Midwest, we’re not quite the South, and we’re not quite the rest of Kentucky.”
And it’s clear that Louisville is important to him. As well as shooting here, the vast majority of the cast and crew and of Split are locals, another testament to the strength of the Louisville film scene.
“My experience with the film scene here? Nothing but positive. My years of being both a direct and remote member of the Louisville film community have been nothing short of invigorating. Both the people living here in town, and those living out of town that are from here, are making the Derby City the next go-to destination for everything good that is possible with indie cinema.”
The film is scheduled to be finished in 2013. If you are interested in learning more about Split you can follow the film's official twitter @SPLITtheMovie, or on facebook HERE for updates about the film's progress and where you can find it when it's released.
Photos: Courtesy of Tyler Barriger