Asheville gets all the glory in independent filmmaking these days. But a band of mostly hometown Hendersonville natives are about to change all that. The enigmatically-named Obsidian Collective is using Hendersonville as its home base for its feature-length production, Sol.
A classic group endeavor, the Obsidian Collective is nonetheless helmed by director Ben Carland, a Hendersonville High School graduate and alumnus of the Florida State University film school. He founded the group in 2008 with principal members Jesse Krautwurst, Alex Davis and Eric Anderson.
Carland explains he chose the name Obsidian Collective for the new venture because Obsidian (a volcanic stone) is hard and sharp, but at the same time sleek and very pleasing to look at. And, Carland says, “We are a group effort: A team of individuals that is always looking to add more to our numbers.
“Ever since I’ve known that I wanted to pursue filmmaking, I knew I wanted to try and do it in a different way. The manner in which a film is made is every bit as important to me as the film itself,” Carland says. “Movies will come and go in a career, so I wanted to try and start the groundwork for an original system for producing media that would stretch beyond a single production, to provide a way to encourage new artists and allow for movies to be made in a more efficient manner.”
Sol is based on an original screenplay written by Carland. The sci-fi tale is about a group stranded on an alien planet covered with water except for this one island they happen to find themselves on. “It’s a survival story and it’s just about their experience,” says Sara Huffman, the film’s producer and another Hendersonville High School graduate. “They are actually part of a competition, which is why they are there. It’s like the Olympics of their time. They’re sent out to an unknown place, and they have to be able to find Earth, but something goes wrong.”
Filming began in early October at Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The film features six cast members and a crew of about 24 people, a mixture of both movie industry veterans and North Carolina talent.
Both Carland and Huffman say one of the top priorities of the OC is to use talent and resources found right here in Western North Carolina and across the state. According to Huffman, California has so many more outlets dedicated to film that it is naturally easier to make a movie there than in the Southeast. But a Hollywood movie requires a higher rate of resource consumption, nearly to the point of wastefulness. With that comes higher costs and a lengthier, less efficient process. North Carolina can provide the same level of production for much less money and without the overhead pressures of a studio film, she says.
“WNC was the perfect area because it’s such an untapped resource in terms of filmmaking. The area has so many great backdrops and diverse settings, but it also has a wonderful supply of talented and energetic craftsmen that are just jumping for projects,” adds Carland.
Numerous Asheville artists were brought in to help with the production. The artists were relied upon to design and build many of the props and sets, including futuristic technology and giant bones. “We’ve had local artists, mainly from the River Arts District, make all of our sets and most of our props. They’ve been wonderful to work with, and they’ve done some excellent, excellent stuff,” Huffman says. “I think they’re hoping to make this a recurring experience.”
When Sol finishes production, Huffman says the OC will try to get the film into mainstream movie theaters and film festivals. “At the very least, it will go straight to DVD, which is a very popular way of doing independent movies,” she says.
Carland says more filmmaking is on the horizon for the OC once Sol is completed. “We’ve got several projects in development right now that we hope to dive right into once everything with Sol has fully run its course. A lot depends on how Sol is received and how far it goes, but if all goes well, we hope to stay in this area and continue producing feature films as soon as possible, for as long as possible. Several scripts have been in the works that we’ve tailored to produce in this area, and as things grow, hopefully we’ll be able to expand the size and scope of each project from the one before it.”