The Black Silkie Shorts block proved to be a universal crowd pleaser during Cucalorus’ first day of screenings Thursday. The films’ unifying force were excellence – the filmmakers masters of their craft. The block featured local film and audience favorite, “Times Like Dying,” and “Satan Has a Bushy Tail,” from visiting filmmaker Louis Paxton, among others.
Many of the films seamlessly blended moments of grit and comedy with sentimentality.
Whether it was a rosy-cheeked waitress serving up dead banker to customers to protect her restaurant (“The Dandelion”), or a gang of cowboys robbing a bank to save the family farm (“Times Like Dying”), the films focus on the good intentions behind less than honorable actions.
“It’s ultimately a story about good people doing the wrong thing and having to live with the consequences,” director Evan Vetter said of “Times Like Dying” during the live Q&A session following the screening. Producer and writer, Anthony Reynolds, discussed the seven-year process behind the film and admitted to writing 83 drafts of the script. Working in his niche of “cowboys, guns, and robbers,” Reynolds said he noticed a lack of “Wild West” stories set east of the Mississippi and set to rectify that with “Times Like Dying.”
Audiences seemed excited to see “Times Like Dying” actor Jim Cody Williams (“Dodgeball,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,”) after the film, and Williams joked about his appreciation of playing a character out of his comfort zone.
“I’m usually the leading man, the love interest, the confused high school guy…” he said. “Now,” he continued, “this is my wheelhouse.”
The Q&A continued with director Louis Paxton and cinematographer Richard Dunton of “Satan Has a Bushy Tail,” who shared tales about filming with a squirrel on set. A squirrel handler specializing in small rodents managed “Harriet” the squirrel, who was “particularly motivated by peanut butter on a stick,” Paxton said. “No squirrels were harmed during filming,” Paxton added, “only tired cinematographers.”
We can only imagine.