Richard Fawcett is an avid cyclist, often riding his bike as a way to exercise his body. One such ride, however, turned into an exercise for his imagination, and the result is the movie “Daniel and Elizabeth.”
Fawcett, who grew up in Mount Airy and operated a law office from 1974-2001, said he had always been interested in photography and film, but never had the time to pursue that interest while in fulltime law practice.
“It’s always been something that interests me,” commented Fawcett. “I just couldn’t immerse myself in it like I often do with my other hobbies until I retired.” Afterward he did pursue the hobby, first with still photography, and more recently film.
His short film, “Daniel and Elizabeth,” will have its premiere at the Historic Earle Theater on Oct. 6. Showings are planned for 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Admission is free to the premiere that is being staged through the Surry Arts Council and the J.E.B. Stuart Birthplace Preservation Fund.
The self-taught filmmaker said that the project began as an opportunity for him to shoot some film at the 2012 J.E.B. Stuart Civil War Encampment at Laurel Hill, Va. He contacted Ronnie Haynes, the vice president in charge of the encampment and asked him if he could film there for two days.
“He (Haynes) was kind and gracious and said fine, I could film,” said Fawcett. “The re-enactors couldn’t have been nicer. My filming was behind the scenes and low profile. I did not want to distract them and interfere with what they normally do.”
Two days before the encampment, he decided to take a bike ride and then the movie became a reality in his mind. When he got back home he immediately wrote down the sequences he wanted to film.
He said he decided to film the movie in a way that would remind its audience of the old photographs taken of the Civil War. Fawcett said one detail bothered him at that point. He needed a young couple for the film. He called Haynes, who told him he didn’t know of a young couple that participated in the encampment. Fawcett said he decided to go anyway and hope someone would show.
He started filming the scenes that first morning of the encampment and stopped at noon. No couple was in sight.
“I thought well, we got a lot of great shots so its been worthwhile,” said Fawcett. He and his wife, Karen, were walking back when they spotted a young couple of re-enactors strolling between a row of tents. Fawcett said he introduced himself and told them the plot of the film.
They looked at each other and said they would help him with the project.
“I found out later they had met each other two hours before I met them,” added Fawcett. Chris Wilkes of Welcome and Jennifer Parker of Big Island, Va., would be his leads. He said they began filming 15 minutes later and got most of the footage shot in three hours. Many of the shots required only one take.
Fawcett said that a few night scenes had to be filmed that evening. It took him five months to select the music because he was concerned the strength of the pieces would not add to the story. He purposely chose to not use any dialogue but to let the letter writing between the young couple tell the story.
“I wanted the footage to be self evident so we left the work up to the visuals and the music,” said Fawcett. “I wanted the ending to have a twist that I think audiences will enjoy.”
Fawcett said he has no definite plans for new projects.
“I’ve got some projects in the back of my mind,” said Fawcett. “Because I am a passionate, solo filmmaker I might find some other projects on a small scale during the winter to contemplate.”
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.