Filmmakers often touch on history for inspiration for a fictional narrative, but seldom do they get to be as hands-on with that history as husband-and-wife filmmakers Andrew Davis and Jennifer Montgomery got over the July 4th holiday when they visited Spokane from their Los Angeles home.
It was a homecoming of sorts — Davis is from Spokane, Montgomery from Colville — and the two made their way to the now-defunct Shadows Motel on North Division, where they found shards of the old sign among the weeds and litter. See?
Davis and Montgomery visiting the old site of the Shadows Motel.
The script was inspired by things the couple heard when they were growing up in the area, and The Shadows is actually a prologue to a full-length feature film about modern extremism and racism in America.
"Both of us in different ways had heard certain stories and been somewhat connected to the subject matter since we were kids," Davis said via phone from Los Angeles. "The past few years we've been more specifically researching the subject."
Both attended film school in Southern California — Davis at Chapman University, Montgomery at USC — and work in the industry in a variety of roles including script development, producing, directing and cinematography. Now they've launched a Kickstarter campaign for The Shadows in hopes of getting enough funding to make the short film. That short, they hope, will introduce people to the world of radical racist groups in an interesting and entertaining enough way that they'll get to make the full-length film they've already written.
"It's been a cyclical process for us in some ways," Davis said. "We actually started out with the feature and then went back and wrote this prologue, which actually takes place 20 years in the past. It takes place in the '90s and is sort of built around the past of this place, and it's also an introduction to the [white supremacist] world at present. It's kind of our way of connecting the history of this place in the Northwest and what's currently happening around the nation." The racism-inspired shooting in Charleston is just one recent example of how the extremist movement that's been prevalent in the Pacific Northwest for years is also present in other parts of the country, he noted.
The couple has a July 31 deadline on their Kickstarter campaign to raise $35,000, and they're about halfway to their goal. No matter what happens with the funding campaign, they will keep working on the project, Davis said, trying to figure out how to make their film come to life. They continue to research the White Power movement — they are meeting up with an former FBI undercover officer in the West Coast white-supremacist movement later this week — and they appreciate the conversations they've been able to have about the issues addressed in their script. They want to keep discussions of racism active and in front of the public, while Davis acknowledges doing a Kickstarter campaign is a "nerve-wracking process" to get people interested and contributing.
"It's all about the crowd," Davis said. "Crowd-funding is $5 here, $5 there. And we hope the conversation gets started about how to deal with racism and fringe groups that are still lingering in the nation."
Here's a propaganda video Davis and Montgomery made from the perspective of their characters in The Shadows: