‘Flyover,’ short film evolvinginto major movie production
Brian White, shown with recording equipment, in front of the Marion County Courthouse in Palmyra. Contributed photo
MARY LOU MONTGOMERY
Published in the Hannibal Courier-Post
“Flyover” is a term commonly used by East and West coasters to describe the land between the Atlantic and Pacific, where their feet never touch the ground.
Misunderstood by those who don’t visit, the Midwest and its customs can be as foreign to coastal dwellers as the packed populaces of the east and west are to those have roots deep in middle America.
Palmyra native Brian White is familiar with both worlds. He grew up in Palmyra, graduating from PHS in 2009. Yet for the last 14 years, he has called Los Angeles home.
After high school, “I was fortunate to get into a film program in Southern California in the fall of 2009,” he said. “Chapman University is right next to Disneyland and south of Los Angeles.”
White described Chapman as “like a trade school; I worked 40 hours a week for four years, earning my bachelor of fine arts in film production in 2013.”
Coming from a town of fewer than 4,000 inhabitants, where he knew most everybody in town, and moving to metropolitan Los Angeles “was quite a culture shock,” he said.
Now understanding the nuances of each region, he has set out to offer his west coast cronies a glimpse of the real world that exists in the middle of this vast country.
“I couldn’t find any movies about Missourians in modern time. While I was working on the script, ‘Ozark’ and ‘Yellowstone’ were produced. They deal with drug dealing and murder; I wasn’t as excited about that in my writing.”
Brian, along with Anthony Lucido and Eric Colonna, started on the project “Flyover” in 2015.
The short film consists of “a day in the life of a friend of mine,” in Palmyra. “He breaks horses for a living. We filmed him applying pesticide pellets to cattle; using drones to find lost cattle. The idea was so unique to my professional friends in California, that a sound guy, camera folks and an editor, came to Palmyra to film it.”
Then, "in 2020 everything went upside down for film,” he said. “The industry shut down for 10 months.” During that time, “I took all the footage and edited it together, locked down in my apartment.”
“Flyover” is a short film (10 minutes) completed in 2021. Brian arranged a showing at B&B Theaters in Hannibal, and invited his friends and family to watch it for free. So many people took him up on his offer that the theater had to run the film twice.
“I received enough donations to send ‘Flyover’ to film festivals” throughout 2022. “I sent it all over the U.S. and we got into 10 festivals; three theaters in Los Angles, and Des Moines, as well as Perryville,” where we won the best 573 Film Award.”
The reception to the short film was such that Brian and his friends, Anthony and Eric, decided to take the concept and produce it into a feature length movie.
The movie will take a year in the life of a rural community to see how they react to technology, showing the town in a positive light, Brian said.
The three friends have rented a house in Palmyra, less than three minutes from his parents’ front door.
“In order to make (the movie) correctly, we must be a part of Palmyra, so it’s a long-term commitment,” Brian, who is reacclimating to living in Palmyra full time, said. “I’m enjoying that, making sure the community is on the same page.”
“It takes a ton of planning,” Brian said. One reason is because scenes are weather dependent. “A big reason movies are filmed in LA is because the weather is the same every day. If you are going to film outside (in Missouri), if you start filming a scene on Wednesday and come back on Thursday, the weather could be completely different. We’re planning out our seasons in advance for next year.”
One half hour of the movie will be filmed during each season.
“It is exciting that in the Midwest, what you wear, how you get around, so much of our lives revolve around the weather. I’ve been working in California, where it is the same year around. The true midwestern experience is to adjust; my film lives and breathes; it goes through the same experience of seasons that people do.”
“My entire family is in Palmyra,” Brian said, “my grandma, parents (Becky White and Michael White) the whole family. I go for a walk in the morning, I say high to my first grade teacher; meet friends at the coffee shop and catch up on life; that doesn’t happen when you’re a county of 10 million people.”
“My girlfriend is visiting this week,” he said, from Long Beach. Together, they visited the Marion County Fair.
At the fair, they watched “mutton busting, brave kids (riding sheep like a rodeo) holding on to the sheep for dear life. This is not close to our life in LA,” Brian said.
“I’m over the moon and excited to be here,” Brian said. “I like to catch up with folks, we’re here for the long haul, to give the town the best representation we can. One of my producers, Anthony, is from Southern California, Eric is from Phoenix. They are having a great year learning how to live in a town of 3,500. They keep pointing out the fireflies … the stars.”
So far, “We’ve been setting up the infrastructure; getting equipment together, learning from the town, and we shot a couple of scenes successfully, and rewriting, sharpening, honing.”
To view the short film: