By Adam Frazier
As the Charlotte Film Festival begins its third week, we’re taking a look at one of the selections shot in North Carolina.
Ghost of Old Highways is a short film written and directed by Dan Bush (The Signal), based on a song by Ben Lovett from the album, Highway Collection. It won two of the festival's awards, for Best Music and Best Cinematography in a Narrative Film
What started as a simple music video became a 15-minute short that features an original score by Lovett, who also stars in the film as a man stuck in the purgatory of his own fractured consciousness.
Lovett describes the film as “Terrence Malick meets Frank Miller,” a combination of graphic novel hyper-realism and sweeping scenic views of stunning North Carolina landscapes. “There’s no dialogue — it’s strictly an audio/visual experience," he says.
Lovett’s character is a Civil War soldier who must hunt down alternate versions of himself amidst sweeping battles. “The film is ultimately about what I call ego-death. It’s about regret, coming to terms with previous incarnations of yourself,” says director Dan Bush.
The character encounters different aspects of his own identity: The Zealot, The Pious, The Glutton, The Proud. “There are parts of our past that we’re embarrassed about or ashamed of,” continues Bush. “There’s this theme of letting go of the past — of reconciling.”
The short film, which had a budget of $6,000, was filmed in the Great Balsam Mountains, near Black Balsam Knob and Cold Mountain. “I grew up in Charlotte," says Bush, "and I remember my Dad taking us camping up there and I always wanted to go back and shoot something.”
Bush left Charlotte in 1989. “It’s a funny thing, actually. Charlotte is kind of a haunted place to me. I love the city — I grew up there — but it’s barely recognizable to me now.”
Bringing his short film to the Charlotte Film Festival is an opportunity to reconnect with where he grew up.
Ghost of Old Highways will be screened as part of the Charlotte Film Festival’s R.H.ot Short Block at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, March 20 at the EpiCentre Theater. Admission is $10 (includes parking). For festival details, go here. You can check out all of director Dan Bush’s work here. You can also download the title song of Ghost of Old Highways here.
Lastly, check out the trailer for the film below: