Clarksville, TN – A guitar thrums at the start of “Listen Hear” – an Austin Peay State University (APSU) student-produced documentary that explores the Clarksville music scene. Iconic Clarksville images – a downtown mural, a Strawberry Alley street sign, a theater marquee – flash across the screen.
As the accompanying song fades, local musician Ryan Gardner appears in a knit cap and sunglasses: “There’s some really cool cats playing some really cool music in the Clarksville music scene.” Another artist, Rufus Dawkins, adds, “I think the scene is very nurturing, I guess, because this is where it started everything, you know.”
The next frame, however, splinters Gardner and Dawkins’ cool-cat nurturing.
Local country singer Justin Mobley draws on a cigarette – deeply – and exhales with a smirk, “You really want my truthful thoughts?” A voice off screen responds, “Yeah.” Mobley pauses and blinks. And the screen goes black.
That two-minute beginning – pleasant thoughtfulness obliterated by Mobley’s screeching question – shows in part why “Listen Hear” is an official selection at next month’s Nashville Film Festival. The 23-minute documentary is scheduled to play at 12:30pm October 6th at the festival.
‘We Fell In Love With Our Characters’
Senior Taylor Moore and recent graduates Lizzy Patterson and Josef Clark collaborated on the film during Karen Bullis’ documentary production class last year. Patterson had the idea to do a documentary about Clarksville’s live music scene.
“I feel like in Tennessee, everybody hears about Nashville but doesn’t really know about Clarksville,” she said.
Moore and Clark joined and started adding layers to the project.
Patterson brought mellow recording artist Rufus Dawkins to the film. Clark and Moore spent time with rocker Ryan Gardner, lead singer of FEVER, and country artist Justin Mobley. Dawkins, Gardner and Mobley quickly formed the “characters” of the documentary.
“We all fell in love with our characters,” Patterson said. “We had to figure out how to make their stories fit. We had this country guy who really didn’t like the Clarksville music scene, and then you have Rufus, who is this go-lucky guy, and FEVER, who is just straight in the middle.”
‘We Showed Who They Are’
The documentary progressed into three acts, the first setting up how Dawkins, Gardner and Mobley stand in the Clarksville music scene, and the second dives into the musicians’ creativity, Moore said.
“And I feel like the third act was where we humanized them,” Clark added.
Throughout, the musicians – though interviewed separately – seem to punch and counterpunch each other’s observations.
Clark explained the juxtaposition: “We wanted to explore one artist’s view then get the polar opposite right after that. We wanted to get the rhythm of opposing views, kind of like they were bantering, almost as if they were responding to one another like they were having a dialogue. Structurally, that was the whole thing.”
In the film, Mobley continues with his thought: “Instead of being let down by people not showing up and not really putting their heart into it, I know when I’m sitting there in my living room writing music and singing myself into the wall, it’s gratifying.”
Moments later, Gardner says, “The most joy and satisfaction comes from the writing.”
That’s where the film succeeds, Patterson said. “We showed who they are. We showed everything about them, stuff no one really sees.”
‘We All Put In Blood, Sweat and Tears’
Moore cried when he found out the film was selected for the Nashville Film Festival. He said he might cry when he watches it at the festival.
“It encompassed so much of my time and so much of my effort,” he said. “It’s one of my proudest achievements.”
Patterson agreed. “I feel like we all put in blood, sweat and tears.”
“I think what I was scared of (when starting on the film) was someone not loving the piece as much as I would love it,” she added. “And they loved it as much as I wanted to love it. This is awesome because I have people with the same passion.”
To See The Film
The Nashville Film Festival is October 3rd-12th at Regal Hollywood Theaters in Nashville. “Listen Hear” is scheduled to start at 12:30pm October 6th in Theater 2.
For more information about the festival, visit www.nashvillefilmfestival.org
Other APSU Films In The Festival
“The End of the Hall” is a short horror film captured on campus by recent graduates Lynsie Cook and Tiara Hall – and starring APSU students Elizabeth Pegram and Elizabeth Patterson and APSU adjunct Sara Anderson.
- Plot: A young nursing student works late after clinicals and is met with something horrific at “the end of the hall.”
- Quote: “Lynsie and I were overjoyed to find out we were selected. The film is some of our most prideful work, and the festival is the biggest form of recognition we have ever received on our short films,” Hall said.
- Showing: 3:00pm October 6th in Theater 2.
“The Nashville Parthenon” is a history documentary short by Assistant Professor Karen Bullis in Austin Peay’s Department of Communication.
- Summary: The film shows current and archival footage of the Parthenon in Nashville and explains its history and significance to Tennessee’s capitol, aka “Athens of the South.”
- Showings: 7:30pm October 11th in Theater 1 and 10:30am in Theater 1.
To Learn More
For more about the Austin Peay State University Department of Communication, go to www.apsu.edu/communication.