Writer/Director: Tyler Russell
What inspired you come up with the idea for the film?
I wanted to show a classic story of good versus evil in a very Texas way. I love the people of Texas and what they represent. This was my love letter to small-town Texas.
Why did you want to tell this story?
I’m from a small town in Louisiana and have a genuine love for small towns, in particular, Texas ones. I enjoy the people, the slow pace, and the comradery (everyone knows everyone)…it creates a fun dynamic. When you think you know everything about someone, you don’t. That’s why this story is interesting to me. The stories about folks in small towns can easily be hidden or slammed all over town.
How do you relate to your characters or subjects?
I have to be able to understand them and their motives. Why is he/she doing this? Why did they say that? Where’s the line between happy/sad/insecure/angry? If I can’t hear their voice in my head, I won’t write them in the film.
What aspect of the story changed the most during writing and production?
When I visited Lacoste, Texas, that was the time the script changed the most. There are some things you just can’t come up with. The concrete jail behind a salon, the constant trains that roll by every ten minutes, the unique conversations I had with locals, it was the flavor that was missing in the script. I let the energy of town flow through the script.
What was the most courageous decision you or your crew made during production?
The most courageous decision we made was to film a fourteen-page courtroom scene with the entire cast and extras in one twelve hour day. Thank goodness we rehearsed the night before.
Were there any risks that you faced during production and how did you find a way to embrace them?
We had many risks during the filming of “Texas Cotton”. On a low budget movie, this is going to happen. We had locations come and go, the people in Lacoste & the San Antonio Film Commission always stepped up to help us. We embraced the towns in and around Lacoste to make sure we had minimal set design.
What influenced the visual style of the film?
I wanted this film to look and feel like 1970’s cinema. Filmed mostly on a tripod, with pans and tilts, it captures the cinematic look to put you right into the small sleepy town of Lacoste, Texas. The hope is when you see it on the big screen, you’ll feel like you’re there.
What risks did you take to tell your story?
Making a mystery is incredibly challenging. The clues, the misleads, the payoff, it all has to work together and feel right at the end. If the payoff isn’t worth it, then the film isn’t worth your time.
How would you encourage others to tell their story or manage through the process of screenwriting or film producing?
I would say to other screenwriters/producers, tell a story you’re interested in and you can connect with. If you can’t relate or aren’t willing to do the research, that project most likely isn’t for you. If it’s a story that you think you’re the only one that can do it justice, then that needs to be made.
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