It was during a wrap party for a friend’s film that Velinda Godfrey and Maura Anderson first got to talking, but the topic of conversation wasn’t as one might suspect about the movies, but rather their shared love of camping. Naturally, it wasn’t before long that the two began setting up their tents together and when the subject of movies finally came up, including the fact that Godfrey had been working on a script with co-writer Todd Waring, they thought maybe they should make one together.
“I was a freelance producer at the time, always on the lookout for good projects, and I asked to read [Velinda’s script],” recalls Anderson. “I had a gut feeling that this project was going to go somewhere.”
Indeed, it has, to the point where Godfrey and Anderson are hoping to invite many more into their tent via IndieGoGo to raise funds for “Heartland” before a November 6th deadline. Set in Godfrey’s native Oklahoma, the film revolves around a young female artist named Lauren returning to live with her mother, nursing a broken heart after the death of her girlfriend, only to stir things up when she becomes close with her brother’s fiancée.
“The excitement from the connection they share and the desperation with which they need one another makes for an adventure neither of them expects,” says Godfrey of the relationship between Lauren and her bro’s bride-to-be. “There’s both magic and trouble in their newfound world together.”
The same might be a good description for the pairing of Godfrey and Anderson, minus the desperation and trouble, considering the two will be making their feature debut as a writer and director, respectively. Which isn’t to say they’re without experience. While Godfrey co-wrote “Heartland” in between acting gigs, Anderson built up quite the career as a production manager on such films as “Winter’s Bone” and “Ceremony.” Anderson had actually planned to be strictly a producer on “Heartland” before the two decided to shoot a teaser for the film (which can be seen in the evocative IndieGoGo pitch video), but after Anderson took the director’s seat for the proof of concept, everyone agreed she shouldn’t leave. Joining her will be quite the group of talented collaborators that the duo have collected over the years including casting director Chris Freihoffer (who did regional work for “To The Wonder” and “August: Osage County”), cinematographer Michael Dallatorre and editor Lauren Connelly.
“What thrills me most about this next phase of production is the people involved,” says Godfrey. “I’ll be working with a hodgepodge of the most talented, lovely people I’ve met throughout life so far. Some I’ve known since high school. Collaborating is the best part of filmmaking. The community around this film astonishes me and I can’t wait to see where we’re headed.”
Yet Godfrey and Anderson hope even more come along for the ride. If they can raise enough funds, they plan to be filming for four weeks in May of next year, catching the beauty of the Rust Belt at the cusp of summer when as Godfrey puts it, “everything, especially the red dirt, glows orange… [the] skies are breathtaking and the filmmaker’s much-loved ‘magic hour’ lasts forever!” For her part, Anderson wants audiences to lose themselves in it.
“My hope is to make the audience feel like they are in the middle of these scenes feeling the intense and intimate moments that these characters are having,” says Anderson.
When it comes to making audiences feel like they’re part of something special, the makers of “Heartland” are already off to a good start.