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Arkansas Cinema Society: Filmland

With more than a decade of success in the film industry, Jeff Nichols brings his experience and wealth of knowledge to the Arkansas Cinema Society – sharing the art + intimate details of filmmaking with the community.

Photography by Nancy Nolan | Shot on location at Ron Robinson Theater

Inspired by the independent film movement + the Pulp Fiction era, Jeff Nichols realized at an early age he wanted to make movies. He was a student at Little Rock Central High School when he decided to pursue film school. He remembers, “I didn’t know anything about it – I had never been on a film set, I hadn’t written a screenplay or tried to make a movie. It just seemed like an interesting thing to do.” He discovered North Carolina School for the Arts, and “with no idea what to say to the world,” he considered his unique Southern perspective and began making short films with Southern themes.

Now with a tenure of more than a decade in the industry and an impressive resume of films including Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, Mud, Midnight Special and Loving – Jeff brings his experience and wealth of knowledge to the Arkansas Cinema Society. Arkansas Cinema Society’s vision shares the art + intimate details of filmmaking with the community for appreciation and enjoyment as well as a broader understanding of humanity. This year’s festival Filmland promises unforgettable films along with unprecedented commentary. “I love Little Rock and I love film and Arkansas Cinema Society is a perfect opportunity to blend those two passions together – calling filmmakers that I love and inviting them to Little Rock.” Jeff adds, “It’s also about providing the resources and knowledge to aspiring filmmakers – the nuts and bolts of how to craft and write a compelling script. That’s where it all starts.”

Jeff Nichols - Arkansas Filmmaker
Jeff Nichols – Arkansas Filmmaker

Jeff shared his insight + inspiration for what makes films special and why filmmaking remains a relevant art.

Why films?
I feel like I’m at the center of the medium that communicates most with people – it’s more powerful than video games and virtual reality. Many people would argue we’re on the back slope of this importance, I don’t think that’s true. None of this stuff is going to stick around forever, but even in the moment a film’s released or even throughout that year, to be part of the conversation is something special.

Why films in Arkansas?
Arkansas is a place that I’m familiar with – it’s a voice that I can write in, and I feel comfortable with it – it’s real to me. But I also just try to understand people. I love the characters I create because they are like me in a lot of ways. And Arkansas is an interesting place to put them. It’s a place that is sometimes misunderstood. It’s gorgeous and I’m really drawn to big open horizon lines. When I drive southeast out of Little Rock, the sky opens up and it’s really big and it works really well with the camera.

What stories do you want to tell + share with the world?
Most of my stories are about fear and family – protecting family and understanding family. These are all things that keep popping up in the work. It’s not born out of past trauma, I think I just feel how impermanent things are in this world.

Inviting Arkansas
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