When the Durango Independent Film Festival returns to its in-person (and some virtual programming) glory starting Wednesday, Fort Lewis College will be represented thanks to the film debut of two of the college’s graduates.
Sisters Isabelle (2019 graduate) and Annie Farrell (2020 graduate) will screen their feature film “Route One North” on the big screen. It’s the story of two sisters who set off to track down their long-absent father after their mother refuses to give 16-year-old Bee (Annie Farrell) permission to marry her military boyfriend. In addition to playing the lead role, Annie Farrell co-produced the film as well, and Isabelle wrote and directed. The movie was shot in and around the girls’ hometown of West Windsor, New Jersey, and wrapped just as the COVID-19 pandemic began in earnest in 2020.
If you go
WHAT: 17th annual Durango Independent Film Festival.
WHEN: March 2-6.
WHERE: Various venues in Durango. Some film programs will also be available virtually.
TICKETS: Prices range from individual tickets to all-festival passes. For prices and more information, visit https://bit.ly/3pcjzYl.
MORE INFORMATION: Visit durangofilm.org.
Isabelle said the two grew up in New Jersey, and in fact, their mother and brother were both in the film (although their brother, who also goes to FLC, had his scenes cut) and their father was in charge of the craft services. Growing up, she said she and her sister were always making short films, so it was only natural that when she started working on “Route North One” that Annie would be involved as well.
“We both ended up going to the same college, and so when I started writing the script, I was always sending her drafts and she got excited about it, too,” she said. “So we worked as a partnership on this as a producing team, and we’ve been working as a writing team on everything since then.”
Financing a film project is not an inexpensive endeavor, Isabelle said. She and Annie paid for the film themselves using money they earned serving tables in Durango at The Red Snapper, East by Southwest and The Hermosa Creek Grill, she said, but because they’ve been working on the movie for the better part of five years, the cost was spread out rather than having everything due all at once.
“It cost about as much as a year of college would, which is a huge amount of money, but it’s also what we were spending to go to college for a year, and we paid for it over the course of – I mean, I started writing this five years ago, so it’s kind of been since then, saving and slowly chipping away and putting money toward it between the two of us, so yeah, it’s super expensive, but I knew there were other directors I really looked up to who had been making movies when they first started, they were making movies for a couple thousand dollars, maybe 10 or 20 thousand dollars if they had access to it, and so I knew it was possible.”
As for being able to work as a full-time filmmaker, Isabelle, who graduated from FLC with a philosophy degree and now lives in Austin, Texas, said she’s not quite there yet, but she and Annie have not stopped writing, which is where she said they’d like to focus on in the industry.
“We’re hoping to break in more on the writing side and be able to make that our full-time job and that’s the scripts we’re working in lately,” she said. “As of right now, I have been lucky, though, to meet a lot of other producers here in Austin, so I have been able to make an income helping other people with their movies, PAing or ... helping with casting, and then also still working in restaurants.”
And while making a film – especially a feature-length movie – is expensive and can be pretty stressful, Isabelle said she and her sister have a great time despite the challenges.
“It’s so fun. It’s the most fun thing in the world. It’s also the most stressful thing. ... The highs of it are incredible,” she said. “I think it’s really hard to work on a project this big with somebody who isn’t a family member, essentially, because inevitably, you’re going to get in a lot of fights, and I think the really wonderful thing about working with my sister is we can fight and we’re made up in 10 minutes because that’s how we were our entire childhood. And we also watched all the same movies growing up, and she has so many strengths that I don’t have at all because our brains just worked in totally different ways, but we still always have the same end vision in mind of what we want to do, so I’m so lucky to get to work with her.”
After the Durango Film Festival, “Route One North” is headed to the Garden State Film Festival at the end of March, Isabelle said, adding that they’re waiting to hear back from other fests. The hope, she said, is to keep playing festivals through the end of the year.
Up next for the two is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” which they are planning on setting in the Four Corners, Isabelle said.
“It’s in pretty early development, but me and Annie both love ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I think it’s one of our favorite stories ever. And we love that area (Southwest) so much, like Durango, the Four Corners and especially right along the Colorado-New Mexico border,” she said. “... I just think it’s such a special place. I just think it’s somewhere that this story would make sense.”
“Route One North” will screen at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Gaslight Theatre and again at 5:30 p.m. March 5 at Durango Arts Center.
Wednesday, March 2
Free Movie Night, starting at 5:30 p.m., Animas City Theatre (128 E. College Drive) and Gaslight Theatre (102 East Fifth St.). Public invited; no pass required. Seating is first come, first served. Sponsored by Code of the West Real Estate.
Thursday, March 3
Coffee talk with filmmakers: meet the programmers, 8:30 a.m., R Space, 734 East Second Ave. Free and open to the public; seating is limited. Coffee, tea and pastries will be served.
Friday, March 4
Coffee talk with filmmakers: meet the narrative filmmakers, 8:30 a.m., R Space, 734 East Second Ave. Free and open to the public; seating is limited. Coffee, tea and pastries will be served.
Special screening of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” 5:30 p.m., Durango Arts Center, 802 East Second Ave. Meet Ferris’ parents, Cindy Pickett and Lyman Ward. Silent auction featuring behind the scenes photos by Cindy Pickett. Q&A. Festival pass required or buy your ticket at the door.
Saturday, March 5
Coffee talk with filmmakers: meet the actors, 8:30 a.m., R Space, 734 East Second Ave. Free and open to the public; seating is limited. Coffee, tea and pastries will be served.
Profiles of Independent Film: David Dibble, 3 p.m., Durango Arts Center, 802 East Second Ave. Festival pass required or buy your ticket at the door. Join Festival Programming Director Cornelius Hurley as he sits down with director David Dibble for an in-depth look into his extensive body of work.
Sunday, March 6
Panel: Bloody Sunday: Stories from the Front Lines of Filmmaking, 11 a.m., Outdoorsy, 934 Main Ave., Unit B. Free and open to the public; seating is limited.
Panel: Documenting Action on Film, 12:15 p.m., Outdoorsy, 934 Main Ave., Unit B. Free and open to the public; seating is limited.
For passes and film schedule, visit www.durangofilm.org.