A small-town film affair

“I will always want to shoot films in small towns now,” asserts Julia Barnett, writer, director, and producer of Chasing Grace, a short film shot entirely in Dripping Springs.

The accomplished actor, most recently known for her recurring role in the television series Nashville, chose Dripping Springs as the setting for her new film because it’s the place she and her family have called home for the past three years. In return, she claims, she was awed by the overwhelming support her project received from the community at large.

Operating on an incredibly small principle photography budget of $12,000 (raised through online crowdfunding), Julia put out a call for help to local friends and was quickly supplied with shooting locations, vehicles, food and accommodations, even period props and costumes—all donated by the Dripping Springs community.

“There’s something amazing about doing this in a small town. People just want to be a part of it,” she says.

One of the film’s main characters—a yellow pickup truck—was provided by local friend and well-known actor Kyle Chandler. His wife, Kathryn, also a good friend, helped immensely with finding shooting locations and making personal contacts, Julia says. Altogether, she counts dozens of locals who helped by donating whatever was needed.

Over the period of a week last August, filming for Chasing Grace took place at Hudson’s on Mercer, the DSISD Administration Building, Drippin Donuts, in several private homes, and other locations around town. Local restaurants donated meals, and vacation rentals provided free lodging for cast and crew. Starrs on Mercer donated a dress for the film, and Chris Kelley at the Hill Country Senior Citizens Thrift Store was invaluable in supplying authentic 1970s props for the film, Julia says.

The supportive attitude of Dripping Springers reminds Julia of the people she met in east Africa when she worked with the African Children’s Choir. She finds a definite parallel between the generous, kind people of rural Kenya and Uganda—“They’d give you their last slice of bread because you’re in their home.”—and the support she felt from the Dripping Springs community.

“Shooting a film, you have to have this village, this community of people to get it done. Yes, I was the director, the writer—but one person can’t do it all. It takes an army of individuals who all bring their own unique talents to make it amazing!”

Chasing Grace stars Julia’s own six-year-old daughter, Lydia Tracy, in the title role alongside well-known actor Christopher Backus (Roadies, Sons of Anarchy) as her father. Julia’s husband Van has a small role in the film, as does their young son, Zander. Julia herself portrays the role of Grace’s mother.

The plot follows a young college student as she reluctantly reunites with her estranged father, only to discover the truth about the wild 1970s’ road trip that drove them apart. The story was inspired by Julia’s own childhood experiences.

“I was a child of divorced parents and grew up between two vastly different worlds,” she says. “That has inspired my story, my love for the 1970s, and a desire to never let go.”

For up-to-date information on the Chasing Grace movie, release dates and showings, visit chasinggracethemovie.com.

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