Nearly 30 eager fans crammed into Hyde Park Books in the North End on Saturday, Jan. 26. Their purpose: Smoke, the short film adaptation of Alan Heathcock’s short story of the same name. This story is part of a Heathcock collective of short stories entitled Volt.
Heathcock is a professor in the MFA [Master of Fine Arts] Program at Boise State and his story, adapted for the screen and directed by Cody Gittings and Stephen Heleker, is based loosely on a run-in his grandfather told him when at the age of eight.
Gittings and Heleker are both alumni from Boise State. Graduating in 2012, Gittings studied business administration and communications with a certificate in cinema and digital media studies. Heleker graduated with the class of 2011, studying philosophy, communications and English with a creative writing emphasis.
This writer/director team claims this is their most ambitious project to date. Essentially, it’s a father-son drama revolving around a dead man, a trek and the iconic cowboy, Roy Rogers.
According to Heathcock, the duo of Gittings and Heleker have done a terrific job of adapting his story into what it is today; and it is the aim of the young filmmakers to raise $20,000 for the film. Once necessary funding is reached, they will shoot in the forests of Idaho.
Heathcock said their goal is to make a movie which is, “Beautiful, well acted, and to bring the story to life to life as well as we can.”
The directors have known Heathcock for quite some time and have been fans of Volt since its publishing in 2011. According to Heleker, though the entire series is riveting, he and his partner could not help but continue to go back to thinking about the power of Smoke.
“Alan has a very cinematic language with his writing,” said Heleker at the script-reading on Saturday; and after reading and discussing the story, the filmmaking team knew they wanted to see it up on the screen.
Heathcock has been referred to as the next Cormac McCarthy [No Country For Old Men, Academy Award Winner: Best Picture, 2008] by GQ Magazine.
And as No Country For Old Men was written for the screen and directed by the renown filmmakers, the Coen Brothers, Heathcock gave a tip of his hat to Gittings and Heleker, referring to them as the next Coen Brothers.
Once the project is finished, their goal is to submit Smoke to film festivals such as Cannes, Sundance and South by Southwest. And provided they win a top prize in one of these competitions, they could potentially be nominated for an Academy Award.