As he debuted his first film in front of friends and family at the Fellowship at Plum Creek Church Aug. 1, Kyle native Clayton Jones felt as if he was practically naked.
Showing off “Clod,” his 20-minute short film that’s still in the post-production process, meant getting the first public reaction to a project that’s already taken thousands of hours to accomplish. Nowhere was it guaranteed, however, that people were going to like it.
“You’re putting up your art and not sure how people were going to receive it, if they’ll laugh or cry or both,” Jones said.
Once the end credits rolled and the lights flickered back on, relief came in the form of applause and positive review. Jones and his team had passed one of several hurdles in their attempt to turn a story of family life in rural West Texas into a full-length feature.
For Jones, it’s about giving viewers a slice of “nostalgia pie.”
“It feels great to create something that makes people laugh and cry and brings some joy,” Jones said. “I think it has a positive family message. I’m proud of what we’ve put together and the team that’s made this come together.”
For Jonnie Mackenzie, seeing his family’s story on the big screen was a welcome experience. “Clod,” written by Jones and directed by Ben Murray, follows the story of a family living in rural Texas.
Much of the story behind “Clod” was based on real-life events experienced by Mackenzie’s family. His daughter, Kerri Jones, is Clayton’s mother.
Mackenzie said he admired Clayton for pursuing the film and the ability for him to tell their story.
It also elicited memories for him and his family who in one way or another had those moments happen. Those moments also made him realize how times are changing and how many of today’s youth aren’t focused on living life on the farm or ranches anymore.
“Things like that, you remember like it was yesterday,” Mackenzie said.
Clayton’s film debut was also a point of pride for his parents, Mark and Kerri Jones. Both played a role in supporting Clayton’s film financially and otherwise.
Mark said it was a “blessing” to have Clayton realize his grade-school dream of becoming an actor or director. Equally pleasing was seeing a variety of family stories that had been told to generations of Mackenzie and Jones family members hit the screen.
“It was an easy choice (to help with funding) and I’m glad to do it,” Mark said. “After seeing the finished product, it was well worth whatever we put into it.”
The real work now begins for Clayton and his team, who are now attempting to raise enough money and attention to submit “Clod” into various short-film festivals.
Doing that would encapsulate a process? that Clayton said felt like a “million hours.”
So far, the team behind “Clod” has spent more than $5,000 on the project; Clayton projects the team will add another $2,000 to $3,000 to the total before it’s finished.
While writing and filming offered one set of challenges, Clayton said there is much more to be done once a film is “in the can.”Much of the work has been centered on post-production items, which is often the most expensive part of filmmaking.
Editing, sound mixing and colorizing the film are all part of the process, which is ongoing. However, Clayton said it was “cool” to be able to pay those for their post processing efforts. It’s often a learn-as-he-goes experience.
“It’s a first time experience, so I never know what the next step is and you roll with what you need to do for the next step,” Clayton said. “It’s been a lot of fun to learn that way.
Both Mackenzie and Mark Jones were hopeful Clayton’s film makes the cut down the road. Both realize the immense amount of work put in by those behind the scenes and on camera.
Success down the road for “Clod” will come down to critics and judges who see the film amid a field of thousands of short-film entries. While the film doesn’t hit on any hot-button political issues of the day, Clayton hopes the film connects with those who see it.
“I think we have a great shot at a larger film festival,” Clayton said. “The team has competed at a high level before and I think we have a good shot.”