Former Uinta Center for the Arts director is making films
When the Uinta Center for the Arts in Kamas closed shop more than a year ago, director Pamela Lockwood relocated to Southern Utah and set up a similar place where she could teach music, acting and art.
That’s when the filmmaking bug bit her.
So, she recruited producer and actor William Hobson, who hails from St. George, to work on some films.
The first out of the gate will be one called "The Light Express," and the two are working frantically to finish it in time to meet the Park City International Film Festival’s April 15 deadline.
The Park City International Film Festival, which will run from June 8 to June 11, is hosted by actor Kevin Sorbo and "unites artists and audiences seeking to elevate the human spirit and strengthen families through the cinematic arts," according to its mission statement.
For more information about the Park City International Film Festival, visit filmfreeway.com/festival/ParkCityInternationalFilmFestival.
It was the premise of the festival that got Lockwood thinking of a story she made into a musical back in the early 1980s.
"The whole uplifting the human spirit idea really got us and I brought out this script, which was actually my first collaboration with composer Karrol Cobb," Lockwood told The Park Record during a joint interview with Hobson. "It’s a modern fantasy musical where people board a train thinking they are going on an adventure ride, but when they wake up, they are infants, and the conductor, even though we don’t see him, guides them through their experiences."
The musical premiered in California.
"People came up to us afterwards and told us how much it touched their lives," Lockwood said. "The story is spiritual, but we don’t really drive that home. We leave it up to the audience to determine who the conductor is."
One of the main draws was the score and songs, composed by Cobb.
"Karrol wrote the music in a week," Lockwood said. "I had agreed to do the project with another writer and composer but it didn’t work out, however, we had already booked a theatre to present a live production and were already committed. So, I went to Karrol and he did it all."
That’s how "The Light Express" got rolling, and making it into a film is part of its ongoing evolution.
"I have often thought it would make a good television series, because it’s about a train ride through life, and when we heard about the film festival, I felt like this was the script to use," Lockwood said.
Hobson was attracted to the project because he liked that the characters were culturally diverse and the story features a personal message.
"However, honestly, the music is what drew me into it," he confessed. "It was written 20 years ago, but one of the greatest things that I have ever heard."
The music is different than most of Cobb’s other works, according to Lockwood.
"He usually leans towards more Broadway and showtune, but this soundtrack is more pop and jazz," she said. "There is even a little bit of rap, which was way ahead of its time when the musical premiered."
In addition to producing the film, Hobson acts in it, and his role is named Karrol, one of the last characters who rides the train.
"When we first did the play, we used all of the actors’ first names for the roles," Lockwood said with a laugh. "The real life Karrol is a great actor, but he never really cared about doing it."
Principal photography for "The Light Express" started Feb. 3, but crews were in the studio on Feb. 1.
"It was absolutely crazy," Hobson said. "We filmed at Studio Ten05 in Salt Lake City. And Bryce Neubert was great to work with. He let us use the studio for a week, and we shot scenes that were 80 percent green screen."
"That was a challenge because the actors really had to use their imagination," Lockwood said with another laugh.
Principal photography wrapped in four days and now crews are working on second-unit photography.
"We’ve shot in Heber, Ogden and St. George," Hobson said.
This is the first feature film for Hobson and Lockwood, and the transition has been smooth, considering they had to hire new crew members and actors days and even hours before shooting began.
"First off, you have to be a little crazy to go into the performing arts, but I started in visual arts and that helped me because I see in pictures," Lockwood said. "That, in turn, helped with my live theatre because of the scenes.
"I had always said that theater is the ultimate team sport, because you have to have a good team to make it happen," she said. "However, film is even more than that. And we are so grateful to all the crew and actors who jumped in when we really needed them."
Another goal for "The Light Express" is to introduce Hobson and Lockwood to the local film community.
"I figured this would be a low- to no-budget film, but it would be a vehicle to establish our reputations," Hobson said. "Pam has done some music videos, documentary shorts and such, but this is her first feature. And while, people know Pam in the performing arts community, she doesn’t have a feature film reputation.
"We want to show that we have the resources and know-how to tell a story so we can start working on bigger projects," he said.
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