When the awards ceremony kicks off in Hollywood for the 168 Film Project in August, two Lake Highlands neighbors will be there to walk the red carpet. Kelly Crawford, co-writer of The Antique Shop, has been nominated to win Best Screenplay, and he’ll bring wife, Robin, who secured City View Antique Mall as the movie set. Robin is a vendor at City View, and the film’s atmosphere helped secure a nomination for Best Production Design. It was also a nominee for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Hair & Makeup and Best Editor.
The 168 Film Project challenges filmmakers worldwide to draw a random bible passage and in just 7 days – 168 hours – shoot and edit a short film. The Antique Shop is 11 minutes long.
Kelly is a full-time attorney with Scheef and Stone, so I asked how he ventured into movie-making.
How did you become a screenwriter? Why do you choose Christian topics?
My undergraduate degree is in journalism. I love to write and I love movies, so screenwriting is a perfect combination. It’s still a hobby at this point, because my legal career keeps me very busy. I started writing screenplays about 4 years ago when Robin and I became empty nesters and I had additional time. I am trying to include a Christian message in each screenplay I work on, because movies are such a powerful means of communication, and sharing the love and grace of Jesus is the most important message to communicate.
Would you call yourself a frustrated filmmaker?
Yes. I hope one of these days the frustration disappears, and I will be a filmmaker. I have written four feature length screenplays: Nine Scars (everyone has nine lives); The Benjamin (follows a $100 bill); The Martyr Among Us (terrorist attack at coffee shop); and Dead Justice (Supreme Court drama I wrote following the death of Justice Scalia). My brother and I also wrote a short film called George. We have a director and casting agent in New Mexico lined up to begin this project in 2020. Once I retire from practicing law in a few years, I would like to devote more time to writing screenplays. I have a list of 10 other concepts for movies that I’m just waiting to write – the ideas are swimming around in my head.
I know you had two partners on The Antique Shop. How were the tasks divided?
The film was created by Christopher Wiegand. He was the director, editor, cinematographer and producer. Chris is a young very talented filmmaker, and one of his films won Best Picture in this same contest a few years ago. The primary screenwriter was Alan Tregoning, and Chris and I assisted. Each of us worked on finding actors, and Robin, of course, played a huge role in getting City View Antique Mall for the location.
What did you learn during the filmmaking process?
The Antique Shop was my first experience in participating in a movie being made. I learned a great deal in the process. Most significantly, I learned that so much can be conveyed without words – actors’ expressions, sets, etc. After all, movies are a visual medium. This will help me in my script writing. I am learning that, as a screenwriter, you have to have thick skin and be persistent. You may get a really good review or evaluation of a screenplay and feel great until someone else reads the same screenplay and doesn’t like it.
Which of the awards do you predict your film will win? What will you say in your acceptance speech?
Since this is the first time I have been a part of the festival, I don’t have a good feel for the competition or our chances at winning. I really love the film, and Chris did such an outstanding job. Even if we win some awards, Chris will be the one giving the acceptance speech, not me. I’ll be cheering him on.
Kelly’s answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.