When making a film about where you live, inspiration can be as close as your own backyard. That is what director Tommy Stovall found out in creating “Sedona,” which opens at theaters across Arizona this weekend.
“Everybody seems to have a story that’s either been here or lives here, so there’s a lot of good material,” Stovall said. “I just started thinking about what would make a good, fun story that would capture Sedona the way I see Sedona, and it just kind of took off from there.”
Stovall first got the idea for the film when he was shooting his first feature, “Hate Crime,” in Dallas, Texas. He had moved to Sedona from Texas with his partner and son a year-and-a-half prior, and felt that the town and its residents lent themselves well to the big-screen treatment.
With a cast of both local and Hollywood actors, he shot the film in 23 days at notable landmarks in Sedona like the Red Planet Diner and various hiking trails. The film also includes aerial shots that were filmed via helicopter of the red rock formations the town is famous for.
Working on a low budget with limited resources, Stovall was grateful to have such overwhelming support from the community in Sedona.
“We’re lucky that the movie really became a community effort,” Stovall said. “A lot of the local businesses and residents chipped in and helped out, which was a huge help in getting the movie made.”
Stovall debuted “Sedona” last year at the Sedona International Film Festival and was thrilled about how well audiences responded to the film. Depending on the audience reception in the coming weeks, Stovall says he would be interested in developing a sequel or even television series based off the movie.
Regardless of its future, Stovall is pleased that he achieved his goal of making independent films. He also stressed how important he believes it is for people to watch and support independent cinema in Arizona.
“Arizona right now is going through a big debate about putting a new tax incentive on film production in place,” Stovall said. “One of our goals is to make more movies in Arizona, and the tax incentive is hugely important for us and other filmmakers to be able to do that.
Stovall describes “Sedona” as a feel-good, comedic drama, but hopes that audiences will walk away examining what’s important in their own lives.
“The stories in the movie are fictional, but people seem to have life transformations when they come to Sedona, that’s what Sedona is known for,” Stovall said. “I think there’s an important message about stopping to smell the roses, so to speak, and really looking at yourself and what’s really important.”
“Sedona” opens at the Harkins Shea 14, 7354 E. Shea Blvd. in Scottsdale, Harkins Tucson Spectrum 18, and the Harkins Sedona 6 on Friday.
To learn more about the film or to purchase tickets, visit www.sedonamovie.com.
• Patrick Ryan is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He is a sophomore at Arizona State University.