Hawk Is Dying
A month or so before we started pre-production on The Hawk Is
I took the opportunity to spend some time alone on location in Gainesville,
Florida. My plan was just to reconnect with the town and the environment,
and to do some preliminary scouting. I also needed to get out of Los
Angeles (and my head) and begin the process of opening myself to more
oblique creative strategies. I knew once we started production, our
24-day shooting schedule would hardly allow for serendipity to dictate
the course of the day.
After checking into my hotel, I was reminded that a hurricane was heading
directly towards Gainesville. This was the 2004 back-to-back hurricane
season. I had about 12 hours till the eye would pass through town.
I didn’t feel like driving up to Atlanta. I was going to ride
In my room I started making notes on my failed attempt, earlier in
the day, to hike through Payne’s Prairie, one of our known locations.
I lasted about a half-mile on the trail before the mosquitoes showed
no quarter and drained most of my blood. I had had enough and turned
back. During my manic retreat, I noticed a young boy, about eight or
nine. He was crouched down next to some palmettos, perfectly still,
entranced by several deer feeding in the distance. I blew past him,
swatting at the air. Further up the trail I passed his parents, having
an argument about whether or not they were going to stop at the fast
food restaurant Chick-fil-A. Only after I got into my rental car and
the air conditioning hit me full blast did I realize the relevance
of what I had just experienced. I was making a film about man’s
disconnect from the wild. The A/C was gravy.
Later that night I made a run over to Eckerd Drugs to buy some food
and supplies in preparation for the hurricane. It was raining pretty
hard and I could barely see the road ahead of me. I had the radio on
and stumbled across a local station playing an NPR-type talk show on
dreams and the divine. I pulled over to the side of the road to listen.
Something in my mind became unhinged. I couldn’t tell if it was
all the talk about dreams and Jesus or the haunting quality of the
overhanging Spanish moss, but the mystery of the place was continuing
to reveal itself. Hearing the closing music of the show took it even
a step further. I had been desperate to find music to help me go deeper
into the film and this was it, delivered to me on the radio dial. When
I made it back to the hotel, I called the station and found out what
they were playing. That music made it into The Hawk Is Dying, not literally,
but it’s in there, as are the mosquitoes, the Spanish moss, that
kid on the trail, his parents, the voice and fury of the hurricane,
as well as a myriad of incidental inspiration, all buried in the soil
of the thing.