Red River Gorge featured in new movie by Lexington filmmaker

Writer and director Bruce Barnett put together Red River Moon in 2007 and filmed it during the summer of 2010. The Gorge was chosen for filming because "it is the prettiest place in Kentucky," he said.
Writer and director Bruce Barnett put together Red River Moon in 2007 and filmed it during the summer of 2010. The Gorge was chosen for filming because "it is the prettiest place in Kentucky," he said. Herald-Leader

For Bruce Barnett, premiering his movie Red River Moon at the Kentucky Theatre is "a dream come true."

"It is full circle for me because it was watching films at the Kentucky in the late '70's, early 80s that made me want to be a filmmaker," Barnett said.

Red River Moon, shot in 2010, was filmed in the Red River Gorge in the Daniel Boone National Forest because "it is the prettiest place in Kentucky," said Barnett who has taught arts and humanities at Bryan Station Middle School for 17 years, and is a co-owner at Natasha's Bistro and Bar.

It's not his first movie. In 2009 he made Nobody in Particular with Four B Films and Ben Burke and he made a documentary about his family during the Great Depression.

Barnett wrote the first draft of the movie in two weeks in 2007. It was filmed in the summer of 2010 over a 20 day non-consecutive shoot. The film was originally supposed to be shot in two stints, but a reported black bear attack at the Gorge forced it into three.

"We didn't immediately fear for our lives," said Carla Gover, who stars in the film and recorded music as well. "We just kind of hung around wondering when the Gorge would open back up."

The movie is about two daughters, Zoe (Virginia Newsome) and Max (Maizie Barrett) and their mother (Gover) who come to the Gorge to escape from the modern world. The daughters get lost and must find their way back to safety.

"It's about getting lost in the Appalachian wilderness," Barnett said. "It's also a movie about family and loss."

The film utilizes local talent and two of the stars are still in their teens.

Newsome is a recent graduate of SCAPA and is attending Oklahoma City University in the fall to study musical theater. She found out about the auditions through Lexington Children's Theatre, where she been performing for several years.

Being in the movie was something completely new for her.

"My passion is definitely theatre, and that was one thing I had to get used to," Newsome said. "It was really a great learning experience."

It was easy to connect to her character because she has a younger sister, and, like her character, she is also outdoor challenged, she said.

"There's one scene where she (the Mom) has us putting up a tent, and they were filming for 30 minutes, and they didn't tell me how to put up a tent," Newsome said with a laugh. "What you see there is all me."

Maizie Barrett, who plays Newsome's little sister is new at movie acting, too. She found out about the movie after Barnett asked Gover, her mother, to contribute music.

"I've always dreamed of being an actress," Maizie Barrett said. "It was the first thing I really got to do."

Maizie Barrett, who hopes to continue acting, said that filming at the Gorge was not easy.

"It was really hot and I was pretty grumpy," she said.

"Which was perfect, since her character was being made going camping by her mother," Gover said in response. "So it was really method acting."

Gover, a folk singer-songwriter who grew up in Eastern Kentucky, had not acted before the film.

"I've never even acted in a high school drama production, much less a movie," Gover said.

Gover was originally brought on to the movie to help with the music. She was pulled into her part when Barrett was cast. Originally, the part was meant for a boy, but Barnett couldn't find the perfect actor.

"It was for a really spunky boy, but she's a pretty spunky girl," Gover said.

Gover wrote Darkness specifically for the film, and contributed Black Jack Davey from her album Gypsy Ways.

The film also features a vast array of Kentucky musicians, including John Rose, who previously had written music for the 2001 film Vanilla Sky, which starred Tom Cruise and Penélope Cruz. Not only did Rose write for Red River Moon, but he also acts in the movie as Cecil.

The music and attitude of the film is authentic and true to her heritage, Gover said.

"This movie has a sense of trying to depicting Kentucky culture in a little more dignified way than some other big screen productions," Gover said.

Fred Mills, manager of the Kentucky Theatre, said that the theatre prides itself on featuring local work.

"I think that is part of our mission when we opened," Mills said. "People look at us to show local movies."

Barnett is not sure about the film's plans post-premiere, but he hopes to arrange showings in towns nearby. He is currently looking into festival entry rules and dates.

If you go

'Red River Moon' premiere

Where: Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main St.

When: 7 p.m., June 20

Price: $5

■ There will also be an afterparty at Natasha's, where many musicians featured in the film will be playing.