Not only is Antiquities a highly-anticipated indie film, it is also Arkansas's pride and joy, an ensemble comedy written by two Arkansans and produced by their Arkansas-based production company startup, Mortuus Pater Pictures.
Set and shot entirely in Arkansas, Antiquities was Mortuus Pater’s first production. Written by Graham Gordy (Quarry, Rectify) and Daniel Campbell, who also directs, the film stars Andrew J. West (The Walking Dead), Ashley Greene (Twilight series), Michaela Watkins (Casual), Michael Gladis (Mad Men), and Arkansas’s own Academy Award-winner, Mary Steenburgen.
The story centers around a young man (West) who, after his father’s death, moves to his dad's hometown to learn more about who he was. Most of the movie takes place in an antiques consignment mall, filmed at Galaxy Office Furniture & Design Center in North Little Rock, home to a host of eccentric characters.
Mortuus Pater Pictures, headed by Gordy, Campbell, and Gary Newton, creates an economic development model which initiates and grows the state's film industry right in Arkansas, one production at a time. The company was born in 2013 from Arkansas’s loss of Gordy’s HBO Productions/Cinemax series, Quarry, to Louisiana. While Arkansas was the network’s first choice, the state could not fulfill the multi-year motion picture production incentives to land the production. “We weren’t prepared for success,” said Newton. “We realized that as long as we were waiting on the state to provide incentives or others to choose us, production would be transient at best, and nonexistent at worst.”
As a result, Mortuus Pater was the first motion picture production company to qualify for Arkansas’s Equity Investment Tax Credit. 100% financed by Arkansas residents and investors, Arkansans accounted for two-thirds of Antiquities' 25-member cast and three-fourths of its 40+ member crew, including Director of Photography Gabe Mayhan and Producer Kathryn Francis Tucker. Waldron, Arkansas native and Los Angeles resident Jayme Lemons also produces. Eighteen student interns from Southern Arkansas University Tech worked full-time on the production.
The movie was shot in five Arkansas cities - North Little Rock, Little Rock, Jacksonville, Hot Springs and Eureka Springs - and at numerous real life Arkansas locations, such as the Arkansas State Fairgrounds, Hot Springs National Park, the Buffalo National River and Ozark Mountains. The production was based out of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub in North Little Rock and JM Associates in Little Rock, and many Arkansas-made products and brands are also featured in the film.
Slated to complete post-production this month, Antiquities will be available to the distribution market shortly thereafter. The producers have already begun development on their as-yet-to-be-named next project, which will also be shot in Arkansas.
At a news conference in November 2016, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson praised the filmmakers. "To really have a commitment to the film industry in Arkansas, you've got to have to have Arkansans that have talent, that love this state, who want to participate in the film industry and are willing to be entrepreneurs," said Hutchinson. The governor also said that the homegrown production has definitely boosted Arkansas's economy. "The state wants to encourage it, support it and be a fan of what you're doing in this state."
It is anticipated that Antiquities will be released later this year or in early 2018. We can’t wait to see it!