The opening night film for the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema is Director Will Wallace’s “Red Wing.” Wallace also is the festival’s co-director.
“Red Wing” is loosely based on Gearge Sand’s French novella, “The Country Waif.” Rather than the green and pastoral French countryside, “Red Wing” is set in a small Texas cattle ranching town. It’s a socially thought-provoking and stirring story of how love can be found in the most unusual places.
“It’s a story of a boy and the woman who was the maternal figure in his life,” said Wallace. “It’s different takes on him — a very noble character surrounded by a number of other characters with less than noble intentions, and the series of obstacles he needs to overcome.”
Glen Powell plays the adult Francis, who leaves town and finds work on the cattle ranch of Jim Verret, played by Bill Paxton. Powell worked closely with Wallace to influence his character’s presence.
Eventually, Francis returns home to deal with his feelings and relationship with the woman who raised him (Breann Johnson) and her husband (Luke Perry).
Shot in the summer of 2012, the Texas weather was sweltering, Wallace said. During production, the heat, often above 115 degrees, sent numerous crew members to the emergency room and caused the equipment to overheat.
“One day, nine people had heat exhaustion,” Wallace lamented. “An ambulance came three times.” They needed an on-set physician to ensure the cast and crew were sufficiently hydrated.
Not only was heat a concern for the cast and crew, but the frequent emergencies created filming frustrations for Wallace.
“I was constantly reassessing what to shoot, but we still came in within the budget,” he said. The film’s production involved hundreds of people, but Wallace had worked with many of them before.
“We had a good team and a good plan,” he explained. “There is comfort working with a team whom you can rely on.” For example, some of the actors have attended the Will Wallace Acting Company school in Los Angeles.
Besides the weather and its effect on the crew, the deal with Paxton was not signed until Wallace was two days in to shooting. Wallace had back-up plans in case Paxton didn’t sign but he was truly hoping to work with Paxton on this film.
Wallace’s stepfather, Terrence Malick, originally commissioned the script from Kathleen Orillion. “I thought it would be one I would love and do myself,” Wallace said. Orillion’s original script was very good and received little re-working, according to Wallace.
“I love being in Idyllwild,” Wallace said. He was especially interested in the snow prospects. He was the featured filmmaker for the first festival in 2010 and has been a co-director since.
“Red Wing” will show at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7, at the Rustic Theatre. Festival tickets may be purchased for the week, day or weekend at www.idyllwildcinemafest.com/tickets-passes/.
J.P. Crumrine can be reached at [email protected].