About a year or so ago, my good friend and neighbor Doug McDaniel told me that he was “making a movie.” Doug is an extremely creative guy who has published several books, restored several historic houses, and who works in multimedia for a living. He’s hunted ghosts and researched the history of our shared city neighborhood more thoroughly than just about anyone else. He’s a man of many talents and interests, in addition to being incredibly kind and very funny. I just love Doug.
However, despite knowing all of this about my good pal, and knowing his huge creative appetites and abilities, when he told me he was producing a movie about his uncle, illustrator & artist John Alan Maxwell, I really didn’t understand the scope or scale of what he planned to do. I figured that Doug meant that he intended to put together some sort of documentary, maybe 20 or 30 minutes long. And over the past year or so, as he mentioned his ongoing work on his movie to me, I continued to think of what he was doing in these limited terms.
But then, two or three weeks ago, Doug and his equally terrific wife Faith invited me over to their house, just a few blocks away from Casa Hickju, for Sunday brunch + my own private screening of Doug’s movie. I happily accepted, and after we all chatted over a tasty mid morning meal, we settled into big leather chairs in the McDaniels’ beautifully restored Arts & Crafts living room to watch Doug’s movie,The Lovelies of John Alan Maxwell, which is now almost complete but for some final edits in advance of the planned February premiere of the film at the Bijou Theatre.
And as I immediately realized when the first scenes appeared on the screen, this was no minor documentary. It turns out that my friend Doug has written, casted, directed, filmed, scored, edited and produced a lush, full-length feature film based on the somewhat mysterious and deeply romantic life of his famous uncle.
I sat there, awed, amazed and enthralled for the next two hours as Doug’s fascinating, beautifully shot film told John Alan Maxwell’s story, as well as the intertwined story of Doug himself, a nephew intrigued by the unanswered questions regarding Maxwell’s work, his many love affairs, and the mystery still surrounding the now-adult children whom he may or may not have fathered.
A Scene From “The Lovelies of John Alan Maxwell.”
I simply could not believe what Doug has accomplished. The movie is AWESOME, and several weeks later, I still find its mood and tone lingering around the edges of my consciousness, just as a good romantic mystery should. It’s a haunting, beautiful piece of work, with a kickass, original Americana score from The Black Cadillacs (FYI: Check this young band out. They’re going places.As it happens, the lead singer, Will Horton was a friend of my son Henry. I know he’d be just thrilled to see the success that WIll’s band is having.)
While there are many praiseworthy things about The Lovelies of John Alan Maxwell, one in particular stands out, and his name is Adam Hutsell. Adam is the 22 year old actor who landed the lead role in Doug’s film. He’s a recent honors grad of the University of Tennessee theatre program, and he’s now relocated to NYC to bust into the big time. And let me tell you, this guy has that thing, that “it” factor that you can’t really explain, but you know it when you see it. Adam is the most compelling “unknown” actor I’ve ever seen on film, and I hope that as Doug’s movie hits the film festival circuit in the coming year that some top notch agent or casting director will take note of him and snap him up. He’s got a sort of young Brad Pitt thing going on.
Soon enough, lots of other people will be able to see my friend Doug’s new movie, but I feel so honored that I was one of the first. I am blown away that someone I know decided to make a full length feature film, and then just went out and did it.
Huge congrats, Doug, and to everyone else who has poured their time and talents into The Lovelies of John Alan Maxwell. It’s just terrific.
To give y’all a taste of Doug’s new movie, here’s the official trailer, with music from The Black Cadillacs.