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Arts & Culture

Boise Filmmakers Crowd-Fund To Turn Heathcock's "Smoke" Into Film

Credit Matthew Wordell
(L to R) Stephen Heleker, Alan Heathcock, and Cody Gittings. Heleker and Gittings are happy to have Heathcock serve as an executive producer of the film.

Last June was a big month for Cody Gittings and Stephen Heleker. For one, the Boise filmmakers formed a media company shortly after Gittings graduated from Boise State. And two, the pair received the green light to pursue their most ambitious project yet: turning “Smoke,” a story by local author and professor Alan Heathcock – into a short film.

The two friends joke about taking on such a significant project while they struggle to build their new business.

“We were very lucky to have both of those things going for us at the same time," says Gittings.

“Yeah, so why be poor when you can also be over committed,” adds Heleker.

“And poor,” laughs Gittings.

The two BSU grads had been students of the Boise author. Heleker was in Heathcock's class when Volt came out, his critically acclaimed collection of short stories. The young filmmaker says the story “Smoke,” a dark emotional tale that details a father and son’s efforts to hide a self-defense killing, stood out.

“[H]is language is just so cinematic so we’d always actually talk back and forth about it," he says. "Somebody adapted another one of Alan’s stories into a film, and we were like, ‘That should be us!' "

So Gittings emailed Heathcock last spring, not really knowing what to expect. But they soon got a response from their former professor: Heathcock was interested, and wanted to talk.

Once Gittings and Heleker received approval to write a script, they had to find money to make the film.

They turned to Kickstarter, the crowd-funding website that helps connect creative projects with investors. They raised $21,000 in a month.

Gittings says the next steps include making final edits on the script and casting actors. He says receiving the Kickstarter funding opens them up to courting the best talent possible – whether that talent is from Boise or beyond. 

“[A]t the end of the day the film is really heavily reliant on that budget," Gittings says. "And there’s a lot you can do on a shoe string budget, but I think this film demands a more grand cinematic statement.”

The filmmakers hope to start shooting in May, with the goal of entering the film in festivals late this year. If all stays on schedule, Gittings and Heleker say they hope to share the production with the town that’s helping support it within a year.

Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio