Once Gary Lane told him about a cross-country road trip, director John Lavin was on board for the project. Shooting Hollywood to Dollywood in a moving RV across eight states and 2,200 miles of highway was a challenge at times, but John captured the feel of the project immediately.
“When the twins approached me about a cross-country road trip, hopefully culminating with meeting Dolly, I didn’t hesitate to say yes,” he said.
John commented on his involvement directing and editing Hollywood to Dollywood:
* John’s production company, Bloodrush Films, has been involved in many projects, including music videos and commercial work, but nothing that like the scope of Hollywood to Dollywood.
“What drew me to the project initially was the challenge of creating a long-form piece of cinema that would hopefully find a wider audience than the majority of projects I work on. Almost everything I’ve shot over the last 5 years has been well under 15 minutes and I was actively searching for something to throw more of myself into.”
* John said he knew that Hollywood to Dollywood would move people and he wanted to capture those moments. “What kept me interested … was the thrill of making something of lasting importance that could positively affect people’s lives while simultaneously entertaining them. And, I think we’ve accomplished that.”
* He knew the finished project was good, but he had no idea how it would affect people. “I had never seen the film with an audience before our premiere in LA at Outfest.
I didn’t sleep a wink the night before … and I truly didn’t know what to expect at the packed screening. I heaved a massive sigh of relief when the laughs came in … and the reaction didn’t disappoint. Then I was really pleased at the cheers and applause during some fired-up-Julia-Sugarbaker moments — that was also a relief.”
* John said he expected some response from the audience, but he wasn’t ready for the range of emotions released during the festival showings. “What I was actually shocked by were the tears. I guess living with this big project for a year, I’d become sort of immune to the emotional aspects of it and really still consider it a comedy-road-trip with heart. But to see and hear people so visibly shaken by the story … was incredibly powerful. And that’s continued at every festival I’ve had the privilege to attend. It’s been a welcomed surprise (for me) to witness audiences run the full gamut of emotions when they watch the film.”