Thomas Wolfe once wrote “You can never go home again.”
Joe Chang proved that’s not necessarily true.
Chang, of Asheville, will be screening his independent film “Present” at the Earle Theatre Wednesday evening.
The film was shot in October 2011, with work split between Asheville and Mount Airy. Included in the feature-length movie are shots set against such local iconic scenes as Pilot Mountain and Floyd’s Barbershop. Chang said about 75 local residents also served as extras.
“The film is about Daniel Crane, a semi-famous performance artist traveling around the Southeast,” Chang said Friday. “He’s doing shows in people’s houses, and ends up visiting his sister in Asheville.”
“On the trip, they discover the things they once remembered are vanishing, and realizing things they’ve kept inside themselves since childhood never go away,” according to a synopsis on the film’s website, http://www.ithappenedonehalloween.com/about.html.
“While in Mount Airy, they visit the house they used to live in …it’s a quiet film, a little character study about a brother-sister relationship.”
For Chang, filming in the two locations was his chance to go home again, figuratively and literally.
Just as the case with his characters, the director and writer spent much of his childhood in Mount Airy before his family moved to Asheville during his teen years.
Mirroring the return home of his characters, Chang filmed the movie largely at the home where he lived in Mount Airy, on Wrenn Avenue, even using the people who live their now as extras in the film.
“The notion of visiting a place you used to live kind of fascinates me,” he said of the impetus behind the movie. “It’s very strange to be in that place as the person you are now, thinking about and remembering all the things that happened when you lived there, it’s all very familiar, and yet so very foreign.
“I think this story grew out of me growing up, realizing that I’m getting older, but trying to hold on to something from childhood. The past, memories, stories, these things are vanishing all the time, just as all things do.”
Chang is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. Over the past several years his independent film company, Papercookie Picture Co., has produced six movies. “Present” is the second one Chang wrote and directed.
While Chang wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to make a full-time living at film making, he said at present it’s more of a hobby, “An art I like pursuing. I work odd jobs here and there, any time I am able to take time off, save up enough money to put together a feature, we kind of get together and do it,” he said of himself and five other art school friends who often pool their talents for these projects.
“Present” is an 83-minute film that will show Wednesday beginning at 5:30 p.m. as part of a nine-city tour across five states. The final stop on the tour is Asheville on Thursday night.
Reach John Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1931.