Rockford is a small town of only 400 residents located in Coosa County, Alabama, where it is the county seat. A small and rural area, everyone here knows everyone, and everyone knows everyone else’s business. With a county newspaper that is only published once a week, a local law enforcement of only 2 officers, and a downtown area that consists of only one block, Rockford is in many ways a time capsule. This quintessential southern town has suffered in recent years; many of the town’s shops have been forced to close, and meanwhile many of the town’s inhabitants have moved away in search of job opportunities.
Yet many characters still live in the town, artists and blue-collar workers alike, and in 1993 when a dirty and disheveled dog named wandered into town, it was these people who took him in and nursed him back to health, naming him “Fred” – the town dog. Fred was a beloved member of the community for many years before passing away on December 23, 2002, but not before befriending many of the townspeople. Fred will be a film about this small town and its adoption of a new friend, exploring his relationships and the effect he had on both individuals and the community as a whole.
Through Fred and the time he shared with the people of Rockford, Alabama, we will gain insight into the individuals who cared for him while exploring the town’s narrative – specifically the narrative of an increasingly deserted area on the verge of becoming another southern ghost town. A large theme of this film will be the desire for companionship, which Fred met, and the fear of abandonment and loneliness. We will explore exactly what Fred meant to the individuals who cared for him and why they were so willing to care for a dog that showed up as nothing more than a dirty mutt.
Current Project Stage:
Fred is currently in post-production. Received funds will help us complete the film. We still have to edit, color correct, and score the film, after which we will begin to submit the film to various festivals. Fred has received fiscal sponsorship from From The Heart Productions and all donations are tax deductible.
An important part of this film is the struggle of small-town America. The filmmakers aim to use this film to bring awareness to the economic struggles Rockford, and other towns like it, are currently facing. Since community is an important part of our film, we plan to take Fred back to the Rockford, AL community and screen it there along with other small towns throughout the Southeast. Through these screenings we hope to open a dialogue among the towns about small town culture and the current state of these communities. Additionally, we hope that these screenings will draw audiences from nearby larger towns and bring awareness to the struggle that small towns face along with revenue for the towns.
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Who We are:
Director and Producer Ava Lowrey is a current senior at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts studying documentary production. Since 2005, at age 15, Ava has been using multimedia to connect with a larger audience. As creator of PeaceTakesCourage.com, millions have viewed Ava’s work and she has been featured in The New York Times, Rolling Stone Magazine, CNN, and more. At NYU, Ava continues to pursue documentary production, and recently completed several short documentaries. Most recently, she completed an internship with ABC News’ long-form documentary department, where she worked on a new medical documentary series for the network. In addition, she continues to pursue editing both documentary and narrative films, having just finished editing a short documentary about a family’s marina and shrimping business in Louisiana following the BP oil crisis. As a native of Alexander City, Alabama, only 30 minutes from Rockford, Alabama, this project is very personal to Ava and she is excited to share part of her southern roots with audiences. You can view her past work at AvaLowrey.com.
Director of Photography Justin Levine was born in Los Angeles, California and has grown up with a love for movies and images. For the past several years Justin has been following his passion, shooting several films and taking pictures across the country. He is currently attending New York University where he is studying film production at Tisch School of The Arts. Professionally Justin has years of experience. He has worked at Panavision, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Universal Studios, and at City Stage, one of New York’s largest soundstages. He has shot many films and has earned recognition in film festivals throughout the country. He brings a real passion to every project he works on and no matter what size or scope. You can view his work at justin-levine.com.
Producer Tori Gene McCarthy is a rising senior at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study concentrating in Ethnographic FIlm Production and minoring in French. Tori’s love of and fascination with documentary film began from her toddler days, often opting for Discovery channel specials over Saturday morning cartoons. While many children played sports and video games, Tori often passed the days playing with her mother’s old Pentax film camera. Now as a young adult, Tori has transformed her childhood daydreams into a reality, having directed and produced a number of her own short documentaries and experimental films as well as producing and assistant directing a handful of short narratives. Additionally, Tori has interned for The Margaret Mead Film Festival at the American Museum of Natural History and for Morgan Spurlock’s production company, worked as a videographer for Wilhelmina Models and Songcircle NYC, and is currently working at MTV News. Most recently , Tori has begun doing concert photography in addition to her filmmaking endeavors and has photographed the likes of Snoop Dogg, Erykah Badu, The Black Keys, and Janelle Monae. You can view her photography at torigene.carbonmade.com.
Production Assistant Hamp Haynes is a senior in high school from Alexander City, Alabama, a small town of only 15,000 people. Since he was young, Hamp has been fascinated by all means of human expression and foreign cultures, leading him to develop a great passion for travel. As a child, he spent time exploring the hills around his home, and as an adult, Hamp hopes to explore the world to gain an understanding of what it means to be a human during a time of such large-scale globalization. He has strong interests in media and communication and plans to study the ways these arts affect and unite the world’s citizens. Like director Ava Lowrey, Fred: the Town Dog means a great deal to Hamp because he has grown up in an environment very close to Rockford, not only in proximity but in essence. This is the first film Hamp has ever been a part of, and he could not be more excited!
Director and Producer