Director returns to film scenes of latest movie in his hometown

Reporter: Ellie Mahan

August 11, 2021

The cast and crew of “Bury A Lover” filmed scenes in Laguna Park Thursday, July 15. Pictured are (l to r): front – Michael W. Green, Christopher Durbin, Jonathan JJ Perez, Shaun Peter Cunningham; back – Joey Kloepfer, Mike Zaragosa, Kenneth Wayne Gunter, Robb Hudspeth, J William Boothman II, Marisol Vera, Rebecca Guerrero, Jessica Willis and Enzo Monfre.

After receiving recognition for his fourth short film “A Touch Too Much,” multi-award winning director Will Boothman II decided it was time to make a full-length feature film. Boothman has returned to his hometown, Whitney, to shoot scenes of his movie, “Bury A Lover.” He has shot scenes in multiple locations throughout Hill and Bosque counties.

Mr. K’s Quick Stop in Laguna Park and Frenkie’s Pasta & Pizza in Hillsboro are just two local businesses that will appear in Boothman’s movie.

Boothman said, “I chose Mr. K’s Quick Stop because when I was a teenager, my aunt was the manager at Uncle Gus’. I spent a lot of time in the summer hanging out on the lake, hanging out there at Uncle Gus’, and hanging out there at Mr. K’s, which back then was called Chaney’s. I had a personal connection to it. I also thought that Whitney would have less traffic, and it would be quieter for us to shoot than trying to do something off of a main highway.”

The main characters of “Bury A Lover” go on a road trip across Texas, so the movie showcases small towns of Texas as well as some landmarks.

When asked why he enjoys shooting in Texas, Boothman said, “I think that’s just what I know. I have that pride of Texans, that kind of rebellious, independent spirit that Texans have, and my biggest inspiration is Robert Rodriguez. In 1992, he made a movie completely on his own. I have two to four people on my crew, but he did it with nothing. That was always kind of an inspiration to me, not letting anybody tell you that you have to have x, y and z to do something, when you can just go out there and do it on your own.”

Boothman wanted his movie to capture the diverse landscape of Texas. The female lead in the movie meets the male lead in Galveston. Other than the two lead actors, Boothman hired only Galveston natives for the scenes shot there, to add authenticity.

“I love our state parks, and getting permission to film at Caprock Canyon meant a lot to me. The other one is the Old Rock church in Cranfills Gap. We haven’t set a date there yet, but I got permission to shoot there, and that’s such a beautiful church,” Boothman said.

Robb Hudspeth, who won multiple best actor awards for “A Touch Too Much” and is now the male lead in “Bury A Lover,” said his favorite parts of acting in “Bury A Lover” are the physical and emotional journey his character takes as well as the Texas scenery he has been able to enjoy. The actor, who has a film degree from Southern Methodist University and has appeared in more than 20 films and television shows, is originally from east Texas.

“It’s a road trip, so it’s exciting getting to shoot at all these different locations around the state and experience all the different parts of Texas. It’s a lot of fun because he has got some great little locations in these far out places that I’ve never been to, and I’ve been to a lot of places around Texas as an actor,” Hudspeth said.

When writing “Bury A Lover,” Boothman crafted his characters to fit the actors who played the two leads in “A Touch Too Much,” Marisol Vera and Robb Hudspeth. “A Touch Too Much” won six awards, including best comedy awards, best director awards and best supporting actor awards for Robb Hudspeth.

Boothman began writing “Bury A Lover” in 2019 and shot a few scenes in the same year before the beginning of the pandemic. The inability to shoot his movie safely during the start of the pandemic gave him an opportunity to send his movie to script readers in Hollywood to get their professional opinion on his writing.

“It was kind of a hobby for over a decade. It wasn’t until I got the success that I did with ‘A Touch Too Much’ that I did try to pursue it full time, which is what I’m doing now,” Boothman said.

While growing up in Whitney, Boothman had a love for English, storytelling and movies. When he attended The Art Institute of Dallas, he knew he wanted to be an artist, but it wasn’t until he began to pursue a business degree at University of Texas at Dallas that he took film theory as an elective, and his dream of film making blossomed.

Boothman said his favorite part about being a director is seeing the words he wrote become a movie.

He said, “I think it’s getting to see what you’ve written on the page come to life. The performances that I’m getting out of my actors are amazing, and it feels terrific there while you’re on set and getting to see them perform it like a play, and then coming home and seeing the footage and putting the audio and video together, seeing the way the audience will see it when we get it on the big screen.”

Since Hudspeth has worked with Boothman in two films, he embraces Boothman’s collaborative directing style.

Hudspeth said, “I suggested a scene involving my character and an additional character, and he really liked it, so he wrote it in, and we actually already shot that scene. Not many directors seek that kind of collaboration from their actors. I daresay he’s the only one I’ve ever worked with who has done that. He has been really good at letting the actors act and develop their characters and help contribute to the story.”

Rebecca Guerrero, another actor who was in “A Touch Too Much” and is now in “Bury A Lover,” said when she met Boothman five years ago at her audition for “A Touch Too Much,” he calmed her nerves during one of her first in-person cold reads. Guerrero said Boothman is thorough when giving directions and when discussing how characters should be played. She enjoys her character in “Bury A Lover” because she is able to provide some comedic relief.

Robb Hudspeth, male lead in “Bury A Lover,” poses with Rebecca Guerrero, another actor in the movie. Guerrero has worked on the sets of “Bury A Lover” and “A Touch Too Much” with Hudspeth and Marisol Vera, the female lead who has appeared in more than 20 films and television shows. Guerrero said, “I am having so much fun filming our big action sequence right now. It’s really hot because we are outside, but it’s so much fun.”

Guerrero said, “He really wants you to make the character your own, which is something that I really enjoy. Obviously it has to go with what he’s trying to do for the movie, but he also gives you a free rein to kind of make it what you think it should be.”

Boothman said part of what inspired him to make a feature-length film was watching the lead actors in his short film, Robb Hudspeth and Marisol Vera, argue on screen. He knew watching conflict between the two actors was entertaining, so he used that as the starting point for his movie. Hudspeth and Vera were in the same acting class before auditioning for “A Touch Too Much,” so the familiarity helped the on-screen connection look organic.

“I had already known her and was used to working with her, so we have a comfort around each other just because we’ve been in acting class together, so that made it easy. There is a level of trust and respect that is already established,” Hudspeth said.

“Bury A Lover” falls somewhere between a comedy and a thriller, according to Boothman.

He said, “It starts off like a comedy, like an odd couple theme. You’ve got a very uptight insurance worker, and she’s having to take this beach bum back home to a funeral with her, so their personalities conflict. Then he gets her in trouble with these guys that he owes money to, so from that point to the end of the movie, it turns into a thriller.”

The director worked to create side stories that mirrored the main story about the sacrifices people make to maintain relationships, whether they are family relationships or romantic relationships.

“It’s a story about a woman who has only thought about herself all her life, and then when she loses a man that she loves, and then she’s stuck with his friend who is the total opposite of her, she starts to learn that she needs to think about others, or she’ll just be alone,” Boothman said.

To create a safer movie set for the cast and crew as well as Lake Whitney residents, the guns used in the action sequence shot at Mr. K’s Quick Stop are replicas. Boothman has used real firearms with blanks in them while filming one of his western movies, but since he was filming at a Lake Whitney gas station, Boothman strived for a safe environment that he hopes will look realistic to viewers.

“One of the things that I wanted to make sure of was that the police knew and the neighbors knew. I covered my bases with all that, but they’re not even prop guns, they’re BB guns that look real and have the real weight to them. Just for safety purposes, we didn’t want anyone waving real guns around,” Boothman said.

When asked who he would thank if his movie won an Oscar, Boothman said he is incredibly grateful for his small crew, the Texas towns such as Coleman that have supported the movie, the Bosque County Sheriff’s Department and the shop owners in Galveston.

“My cinematographer Chris, the guy who is shooting it, is getting great footage. Everything is looking great. It’s really just the performances. The stuff that I wrote feels authentic and real. So much is coming out of the actors, and I can’t wait for audiences to see that,” Boothman said.

Boothman has more filming to do in the area and will continue filming his action sequence at Mr. K’s Quick Stop in September. He will also shoot scenes at Robert Payne’s agri-business in Clifton.

Hudspeth said, “I’m very excited because no one studies film more than Will. The dedication he puts into his writing is amazing, and the research that he does for the characters, and for the scripts, has me really excited about the potential of this film. It’s going to be really well crafted, and I’m really looking forward to the end result.”

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