“Gordon Family Tree,” a movie written by native Arkansan Ryan Schwartzman and primarily filmed in Northwest Arkansas held its sold-out Northwest Arkansas premiere Wednesday (May 22) at Razorback Theatre in Fayetteville.
Nearly 300 people attended the red-carpet event and to watch the full-length independent film. Many in the audience were special guests of Schwartzman and wife/producer Jennica.
The husband and wife team said they are grateful for the immense support from family, friends, businesses and even strangers. They raised funds for the film via Kickstarter.com and with generous donations from local businesses like Penguin Ed’s Barbeque, Mama Carmen’s Espresso Café, Greenhouse Grille, Gusano’s Pizza, Arsaga’s and Skyvue Lodge – which were all seen in the film. Many other landmarks and sites were also very familiar to the NWA crowd.
Many familiar Northwest Arkansas faces are also brought to the big screen in Gordon Family Tree. KNWA’s Fox News Edge anchor Brad Reed makes a cameo, as well as musician Shannon Wurst. Arts Live Theatre’s Mark Landon Smith, Jules Taylor and Jason Suel play roles and local actress and founder of Seedling Film Association Cassie Self portrays character Freemont Gordon’s famous big sister, Charlotte.
Another native Arkansan, Brace Harris of Morrilton, plays the sincere part of Freemont’s baseball star brother, Matthew. We also hear local musicians like Wurst, Surf de Soliel and Trout Fishing in America on the movie’s Soundtrack.
The film, directed by L.A. based director Mark Hampson, is remarkably well done and the honest, un-contrived acting is sure to receive attention from Hollywood and beyond.
During the Q&A after the more than 2-hour long movie, Hampson was asked how he felt about directing in Arkansas as opposed to L.A.
“People here are a lot nicer!” he answered jokingly.
In May, the Schwartzmans held the world premiere back home in L.A., and then won the Pearl Award at the International Family Film Festival, which recognizes the movie for exemplifying family strength.
The crew will continue the independent film circuit “for a year or so,” said Jennica Schwartzman. They hope for a limited theatrical release, then expect a DVD release.