PILOT POINT — The stars and organizers of The Legend of Lowla will roll out the red carpet next week for the short film’s premiere at the Pilot Point Community Opera House.
It took about six months to shoot and edit the fictional film, which centers on a giant tomato worm named Lowla whose colorful history includes fighting in World War I and making moonshine.
The event is free and open to the public, but those planning to attend must make reservations online by visiting http://goo.gl/uubwi. As of Tuesday afternoon, 89 people had reserved seats.
The film premiere was made possible through a campaign on Kickstarter.com, where people were able to donate money to the project.
The goal was to raise $4,000, which some people initially believed was unlikely to be achieved. At one point, the filmmakers began to explore alternative funding options.
“The thing with Kickstarter is that you have to reach your goal to keep the donations,” said artist Justine Wollaston, who filmed, directed, edited and acted in the film. “If you’re short of your goal, you don’t get anything. It’s all or nothing.”
But to Wollaston’s surprise, the campaign reached its goal with $50 to spare. Forty people donated toward the campaign, according to Kickstarter.
“It was a great surprise,” she said. “We have a lot of people who are willing to keep this alive.”
The money will also be used to supply a DVD copy of the film to everyone who helped.
Organizers said they are having the premiere in Pilot Point because support from residents led to the film’s completion.
Wollaston said she hopes to show the film in local and national film festivals.
“My ideal audience is the world, but for right now, we’ll show it closer to home,” she said.
The entire cast and production crew came from Pilot Point and neighboring communities. Volunteers donated World War I-era clothing, antique vehicles, production equipment and time to assist with the film.
“More than 140 individuals have participated in one way or another — many of them in various capacities — to get this film shot,” Wollaston said.
The idea to shoot a short film about a giant tomato worm started out as a joke among a few locals, Wollaston said.
Last year Wollaston joked to her friend Bob Albrecht that Lowla, a 20-foot puppet that takes about six people to operate, could be the star of the film.
But Albrecht said he took her seriously and started writing war scenes.
The idea grew from there, Wollaston said. Within a couple of weeks, she had written a 25-page screenplay.
“We shot one scene after another, after another, until we finally had a story to tell,” she said. “It became something amazing to watch grow.”
A trailer for the film can be seen on Facebook or YouTube by searching for The Legend of Lowla.
“There has been so much excitement that people are willing to do whatever it takes to get this film done and seen by the world,” Wollaston said.
The premiere begins at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Pilot Point Community Opera House, 110 S. Washington St.
Reservations can also be made by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.