A retired security guard in rural Arkansas has been making films with local townsfolk for over 30 years. Phil Chambliss’s work blurs the area between fact and fiction, good and evil. Peer behind his lens to see how one man creates a self-contained universe, out in the bayou.
Director: Simon Mercer
Producer: Dick Epps
After hearing about Phil Chambliss’s homemade rural Arkansas films and tracking down some of these oddities to watch myself, I knew I had to find this man and make a film about him.
With no internet access and limited phone use at his disposal, Chambliss and I began exchanging handwritten letters. Once convincing him of my good intentions, the trek to document his dark and magical world began.
Living alone in his trailer home out in the bayou, he has all windows permanently blacked out so he can sleep his inconsistent hours (after working night shift for 35 years he has no functional internal clock) and watch projections of his favorite 1960s serial TV Westerns and re-runs of Highway to Heaven.
Over a couple of weeks we spent a great deal of time together.
A great deal took place: filming daily at the magic hour; chasing down locals who star in his films; hunting for wild hogs; eating meatloaf at the local bar; touring the local murder scenes; and running from security at the local arms manufacturers munitions factory – the town’s core industry nestled ominously deep in the woods.
Anything and everything happened out in Phil’s corner of the bayou, a glimpse of which is captured in this film.
About Simon Mercer
Simon Mercer is a Canadian documentary filmmaker whose first two films unearthed the dark, comedic and shivering underbelly of worlds inhabited by outsider American filmmakers living in relative isolation and obscurity.
Glass Eyes of Locust Bayou is his second short documentary after King Dong (2011). Glass Eyes of Locust Bayou won the Oscar-qualifying jury award for best short documentary at the Slamdance Film Festival.
The director has just completed his third National Film Board of Canada funded short film.