New Short Featuring Fayetteville Artist Heads to National and International Film Festivals

Photo: Courtesy of C1 Entertainment

A new film starring a Fayetteville artist has been selected at several independent film festivals this year.

The short film is called Southand tells the story of Fayetteville artist, South Walker, and his unique ability as a sculptor on the autism spectrum.

South’s story is remarkable. Prior to his diagnosis, as his mother Missi recounts, the Walkers were visiting Tulsa for a trip to the zoo when a pizza parlor waitress inadvertently helped South discover his talent while also giving him a way to communicate he didn’t. hadn’t been able to find before.

At the time, their son was about three years old, and the Walkers knew that South was a bit late to start talking and was harder than normal in restaurants. Otherwise, however, they were unaware that anything was out of the ordinary with their first child.

As part of their vacation, they were determined to have at least one dinner that wasn’t from a drive-thru. During the meal, South began to melt at the table in a restaurant when a waitress brought something that changed everything.

“This little waitress came over and said, ‘Does he want some pizza dough? ‘” Missi said in the first minute of the documentary.

South immediately got to work with the dough, and the family enjoyed their very first leisurely meal at a restaurant. South carved McDonald’s golden arches out of clay, communicating what her dinner preference would have been that night and unlocking a new skill that became a lifelong passion.

A view inside South’s lab

Screenshot / South

From that fateful moment at a Tulsa Carrabba’s Italian Grill, carving has become a passion for the South. The artist – now 19 – has spent countless hours sculpting thousands of tiny figures, ranging from cartoon characters to sports mascots and figures from popular culture in his dining room ‘laboratory’ from his parents’ house.

Last year during the pandemic, Kyle Gibbons – one of his former teachers at McNair Middle School – suggested the idea of ​​making a short film about his abilities. Gibbons pitched the idea to Patrick Cone, his filmmaker college friend at C1 Entertainment, and the film project was born.

Cone and Gibbons visited the Walkers and shot the film for two days last summer, and the film was released in the fall.

Missi said South’s confidence in Gibbons and Cone’s simple, unintrusive filming style helped her son feel comfortable enough to participate in the film.

“I didn’t know if South would or not, but having Kyle there to ask the questions was important, and of course Patrick was great with him,” she said. “He had his camera and his lights, but he shot the whole thing himself, and he was as low-key as possible.”

The film is approximately 12 minutes long and includes appearances from South, her parents Missy and Stuart Walker, her sisters Lexi and Katie, her art teachers Natalie Conway and Duane Coleman, and several of her friends who received his sculptures as a gift. over the years.

South was initially very reluctant to part with his designs which he says resemble his children. Recently, however, he has become more comfortable sharing them.

Sud inside his lab with art teacher Natalie Conway

Screenshot / South

The first he gave, his mother said, was to his teacher, Coach Gibbons.

“In sixth grade, he cast Ghostbusters for a draw, and Coach Gibbons won it,” she said. “But Kyle said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it, man,’ and I think that helped him with the idea of ​​parting ways with them.”

Since then, he’s gifted dozens of sculptures and even started selling a few at an Etsy shop his mom helps run. Friends and family who received the gifts regard South’s sculptures as prized possessions. Part of the film features dozens of friends and family proudly showing off South’s creations they’ve received over the years.

The film, since its release earlier this year, has been well received. He has previously appeared at the Vancouver Independent Film Festival and the Life Screening International Short Film Festival.

Next month it will be presented as part of the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah (a festival for low-budget films that runs in conjunction with the Sundance Film Festival), and it will be included in other lineups that will not have yet to be announced, Missi told us.

South was also featured by Autism Speaks, an organization “dedicated to advancing solutions, across the spectrum and throughout life, for the needs of people with autism and their families.”

South surrounded by its sculptures

Screenshot / South

You can see more of South’s work on her website, Etsy shop, or Facebook page.

Full South short film is available on YouTube (also embedded below).

Southa short film about the sculptor South Walker

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