Hollis at deadCENTER

Telling the story of the struggle of a small town graduate choosing between duty to his family and his dreams, Sonny Priest is here to talk about his deadCENTER movie, Hollis.

First off, tell me a bit about yourself and your role in the movie.
My name is Sonny Priest. I was born in Elk City, then moved to Oklahoma City when I was five years old when my dad, Monty Priest, started a church here. I am a graduate of Putnam City North High School and the University of Oklahoma where I majored in Film and Video Studies. I wrote and directed Hollis.

Hollis still1
How would you describe Hollis to people?
[pullquote-right]”Imagine the smartest kid in your high school. The kid that, when senior year rolls around, has tons of options with a very bright future. But life isn’t always that simple.”[/pullquote-right]Imagine the smartest kid in your high school. The kid that, when senior year rolls around, has tons of options with a very bright future. But life isn’t always that simple. Darryl was born poor in a small town that few had heard of. He has an older brother with cerebral palsy and an alcoholic father so calloused to the world, he hardly goes into town anymore.

Darryl would love that perfect life, but that’s not his reality. His reality is that he is too poor to go to college even though he’s been accepted to his top choice. His reality is that he can’t trust his father to take care of this brother with special needs. His reality is that the girl he loves is a year behind him in school, and leaving town means leaving her. And he has started to come to terms with his reality. Until, one day, he opens his mailbox to find the usual junk mail and bills they will struggle to pay, but one letter was different. It was the scholarship he’d been praying for.

Why should one see it?
If you are wanting to experience an emotionally charged story showcasing great Oklahoma acting and cinematography, this movie should be right up your alley.

Hollis still2
What was the most challenging aspect you had in the production?
One of the main obstacles for all indie projects is going to be funding. Oklahoma can always use more patrons to invest in the film community. You do your best with what you have. The rest you make up with time, favors, great relationships, and outstanding craft services.

What was the best part about filming in Oklahoma?
[pullquote-right]”The biggest advantage of shooting in Oklahoma was the open doors we received from the community.”[/pullquote-right]The biggest advantage of shooting in Oklahoma was the open doors we received from the community. There were so many lovely people and business that stepped up to help. Whether is was provide a location, like Bearz 3020 Club in OKC, Sid’s Diner in El Reno, or virtually the entire town of Hollis, or providing a meal like Chick-Fil-A or Qboba or other countless individuals, we were in no lack of Oklahoma hospitality anywhere we went.

What were some particular scenes that were enjoyable to film?
The scenes I loved shooting the most were the scenes with Darryl (Ty Fanning) and Frank (Terry Masters). They had a brilliant give and take that made everyone sort of a realize the talent and the quality of film that we were producing. There was one very important day that got rained out the during shooting, and we had to come back 3 months later and reshoot it. After we got those final shots in the can, that was an unbelievable feeling and I just felt waves of gratitude for everyone involved in the process.

What are your thoughts on the deadCENTER Film Festival?
deadCenter is a phenomenal festival right here in Oklahoma City. It’s run by one of the biggest champions of Oklahoma Film, Lance McDaniel, who has gathered a team that throws a heck of a celebration of independent films. One of the things that deadCenter does best is connecting films with distribution outlets. Even some of the larger film festivals can’t compete with deadCenter in this aspect. It’s always a great time and I would never choose to miss it.

Anything else you wish to add?
Thank you for supporting Oklahoma Films! If you know of a local theater near to you who would like to show our film, please get in contact with us on Facebook as we would love to start showing it around towns in Oklahoma during the summer and fall.

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Dennis Spielman

I'm Dennis Spielman, the Producer of Uncovering Oklahoma, which I started in 2009 as a way to show that Oklahoma isn't boring. As for about myself, I’m a creative person that writes imaginative stories. I also run The Show Starts Now Studios, which is my umbrella organization for all of my shows I create. Come join me on Patreon as I create content that adds adventure and wonder to peoples' lives. More about my stories and projects are at DennisSpielman.com

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