Filmed on two Samsung Galaxy 9 phones with a budget of $5000, and some help from Google, Moonbow is a local independent film based on the legends of Cumberland Falls.
Does it sound like a horror movie yet? Because it is. The story follows four local friends and their co-workers on an overnight camping trip to the Falls to see the moonbow, a rainbow that occurs from the light of a full moon in the mist of the waterfall. The group quickly realizes that some legends are true.
Which is exactly how we would describe writer and director William Robert Chadwell: some legends are true.
Chadwell had no formal education or experience in filmmaking prior to this film. He was given a copy of the book Rebel Without a Crew, the story of how Robert Rodriguez made El Mariachi for $7,000 while the movie went on to gross almost $2 million at the box office.
“Rodriguez’s thesis was you only need four things to make a film: hard work, organization, passion, and creativity,” says Chadwell. “So, we adopted the ‘El Mariachi’ philosophy. And I used a lot of Google.”
Born and raised in Corbin near Cumberland Falls, Chadwell remembers growing up on stories of the local legends of Devil’s Creek, Dog Slaughter Falls, and the Moonbow Massacre. For him, Cumberland Falls has always been a mystical place, one he thought to be the perfect setting for a horror movie.
He moved to Lexington in the late 90’s, but continued to take friends to see the moonbow below the Falls. After one of his trips, he wrote the first scene to the film. Life happened and the script sat in a drawer for 15 years before Chadwell dug it up last February. In three weeks, he finished the entire script.
“It was one of those life changing moments. After 41 years I finally found what I was meant to do, my passion. So, I quit my job of 8 years, put all the chips on the table and chased my dream.”
The entire film was shot using two Samsung Galaxy 9 phones. “We attached the phones to a DJI gimbal and a Beast Rig, which are both camera stabilizers. We used a DJI Mavic Pro drone, until my Director of Photography crashed it into Devil’s Creek (maybe it is haunted?). We edited the film on Premiere Pro.”
The film was self-produced through their own company, Moonbow Productions, and the affordability of mobile technology allowed them to come right in on their budget of $5000.
Filming took place in the Cumberland Falls area including Dog Slaughter Falls, Eagle Falls, Moonbow Trail, Sheltowee Trail, and of course the Cumberland Falls. There was a lot of local support for the film with sponsorships from Country Boy Brewing, Rolling Oven Pizza, Sheltowee Trace Outfitters, and the Amsden Bourbon Bar. The entire cast is Kentuckian with most being from Lexington then Louisville and Corbin.
With the upcoming Lyric Theater premiere, Chadwell is most excited for the cast to see the final cut for the first time. “For them to finally have their moment on the red carpet and on the big screen, in front of their family and friends, that’s going to be magical.”
Along with the premiere at the Lyric, the film will be doing a theater and brewery tour called #SomeLegendsAreTrue Tour across the state in September and October.
“The purpose of the tour is not only to show the movie, but to celebrate local Kentucky. In each city we want to hear about local legends, legendary places to eat and hike, and learn about the communities and their uniqueness to the state.”
Chadwell wants the audience to have as much fun watching the film as the cast and crew had making it. Thinking most people will relate to the scenery of the movie, he adds, “The amazing backdrop that Kentucky offers; mossy boulders, creeks and waterfalls, the fern lined trails. Hollywood pays millions of dollars to fake the scenery we have lying in our backyards.”
With the recent success of Burning Kentucky, Moonbow’s upcoming film tour in the fall, and the affordability of mobile technology, Chadwell hopes to see an increase in Kentucky filmmaking.
“I think Kentucky has a lot of original stories to tell, and I’m excited to be a part of that.”
The Lexington premiere of Moonbow is at The Lyric Theater on Wednesday September 18 at 7 pm.
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