Katherine Dohan and Alanna Stewart, two young, self-taught filmmakers from Memphis, Tennessee, are heading out on a cross-country tour this month, spanning three weeks and over a dozen towns. Warren Wilson College will host an exclusive screening of their movie, What I Love About Concrete, on Friday, April 19 at 4pm.
A homespun high school fairy tale screwball comedy six years in the making, What I Love About Concrete follows Molly Whuppie on her quest to revive a magical dead swan, all the while navigating the absurdities of high school history projects and abstinence-only sex-education. Armed with only a shoestring budget, a grand vision, and an off-kilter sense of humor, Dohan and Stewart turned to homemade special effects, original music, puppetry, and an eclectic cast of community actors to realize their uncanny take on the classic heroine’s journey.
The two young women drew inspiration from folk tales and mythology, as well as their experiences as teenagers in Memphis, for their original script. Says Dohan, “It may seem like some of the scenes in this movie are far-fetched, but actually most of them are based on real experiences! Especially the sex-ed classes and the strange nooks and crannies of the city, which teenagers happen to find themselves in.”
Dohan and Stewart became friends behind a shared music stand in the oboe section of the middle school band in 2000. They soon recognized a shared sense of humor and cockeyed view of the world, and began collaborating on humorous short videos and Shakespeare parodies, featuring Alanna’s sister and Concrete star, Morgan Rose Stewart, in the lead.
In 2007, the two wrote the script for Concrete, their first feature, but shooting the imaginative story proved more difficult than they had expected. The project snowballed on through various summer and winter vacations, eventually involving hundreds of local volunteers before its completion in 2013.
After six years of working on the project, the Memphians decided their unconventional movie deserved an unconventional sendoff. The duo is embarking on a whirlwind DIY tour, screening What I Love About Concrete at alternative venues like Warren Wilson from Memphis to Massachusetts to Georgia. “We did everything else ourselves, so why stop now?” says Dohan.
What I Love About Concrete will screen at 4pm on April 19 followed by a Q+A session with the directors. They will have DVDs, shirts, and music for sale and appreciate donations to fund their tour. For more information, visit www.whatiloveaboutconcrete.com