Lance McDaniel, still from Homecoming, 2018

Lance McDaniel Films Rural Oklahoma

“AWESOME!!! Thank you so much!” From the minute he got the news about his Artistic Innovations grant, artist Lance McDaniel was excited. His project, The Waving Wheat Trilogy, is a collection of three short films that leverages the power of modern dance, the beauty of Oklahoma’s diverse landscape, and the talent of Oklahoma artists to tell authentic, timely stories about life in rural Oklahoma. Each of the works was set and filmed in McDaniel’s hometown of Alva, Oklahoma.

There was a lot to be excited about. McDaniel worked with eighty adults and twenty-five children who signed up, auditioned, and participated in the filming of the project. More than one hundred community members donated meals, locations, equipment, and housing through the course of the project. Screenings were popular in Woodward, Oklahoma (near Alva) and sold out in Oklahoma City.

McDaniel reflects on the impact of the project in his community: “But, the biggest impact was on the 100-plus people from Alva and the surrounding areas that could sing, dance, act, build, and create, but had never been given the opportunity to do it in film. Now they have. From the ten-year-old robotics enthusiast that wanted to know all about the camera equipment to the former prison warden who was fulfilling a bucket list to the gallery owner that set up our production office, creating a trilogy of movies in Alva brought people in the community together in different ways than they had interacted before.

It allowed twenty-five kids to dance in a movie and then watch it with all of their relatives at the same movie theater where they watch Disney movies. And, it allowed a college senior at Northwestern in Alva to learn about Virtual Reality for the first time, manage all of the VR footage during the film shoot, and then get hired as a tech manager at the Virtual Cinema where her film premiered.

Community Art Projects do amazing things for communities and everyone involved.”

Images from left: Lance McDaniel, still from Homecoming, 2018; poster advertising a cast and crew screening for Homecoming, 2018; Cast and crew gather for a photo, 2017. All images courtesy of the artist.

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