HEARTLAND tells the story of a young Oklahoma artist who lands back in her mother’s stifling household after her girlfriend dies, but finds escape through a reckless affair with her brother’s fiancée. The film is in pre-production and will begin shooting in Oklahoma May 19th. Laura Spencer (The Big Bang Theory) and Beth Grant (The Mindy Project) will star alongside the film’s writer Velinda Godfrey.
The film, which began in Jeffrey Tambor’s (Transparent) workshop a few years ago, has received extraordinary support from actors including Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story), Julia Stiles (Save the Last Dance), Steve Agee (The Sarah Silverman Show), Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville) and many others in the first days of funding. In the first two weeks, $70k was raised putting the filmmakers within reach of their ambitious $150K goal. Heartland is fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas, a 501(c)(3) organization that help artist and related groups run their businesses more efficiently. All donations are tax deductible.
Writer/Producer Velinda Godfrey, who surprised her Oklahoma classmates by bringing a girl to her Senior Prom now lives in Los Angeles, has always wanted to tell a story about her hometown.
This script alternates between the long-lasting traditions of the modern Oklahoma family and the emerging openness of the same heartland dwellers, and in doing so, it presents a truthful look at the conflicted lives of ordinary people who are forced to question their allegiance to love and the value of mere tolerance.
“This film emulates a reality that we all live in now,” says director Maura Anderson. “We will always have stories about ‘coming out,’ but I think it’s important that movies start transcending this to places where central characters just happen to be gay- where it isn’t the central theme, it’s just a fact. This is the world we live in and for those people that don’t live in that reality, film is a great way to see that it can and does exist.”
Heartland tells the story of Lauren, a 26-year-old artist living in suburban Oklahoma, who has moved back in with her mom, Crystal, following the sudden death of her girlfriend. The arrangement leads the relentlessly chipper Crystal to believe her daughter is headed back to the straight and narrow. But, Lauren is only following her mom’s traditional plans for her future in order to stave off the pain of the recent tragedy.
When Lauren’s brother Justin comes home with his uptight fiancée Carrie to help launch a local winery, Lauren, eager for a distraction, becomes energized to complete the artwork for the wine labels. Carrie reluctantly decides to help Lauren with the marketing concept, but the two have fun searching together for images of authentic Oklahoma. As Lauren starts to regain her sense of adventure, and Carrie starts to question her own predictable future, their excitement for the project develops into a passion for each other. And when the two take cover in a bathtub during a tornado, their closeness sparks a sexual affair that can’t remain secret for long.
With plans to shoot in Oklahoma for twenty days on a shoestring budget, the filmmakers have innovative ideas to make every penny stretch. They have been awarded the Panavision New Filmmaker Grant, which provides camera equipment to filmmakers. They are also taking advantage of Oklahoma’s exciting film incentive.
Heartland on Twitter (@heartland_movie) and Facebook (@HeartlandTheFilm) will update the development of the project. More info, including a production blog, can be found on the Heartland website (Heartlandthefilm.com)
Laura Spencer: Carrie
Velinda Godfrey: Lauren
Beth Grant: Crystal
Director: Maura Anderson
Photography credits: Sara Combs and Michael Lowe