Author John Davis and Director Josh Mullner team together on ‘Friend’

The Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau’s invites people to come to America’s Hometown and “write their own story.” John Davis did exactly that 14 years ago and has been writing regularly ever since.

“I love writing, telling stories, and I do it hoping to make a living at it one day, so it is far more than a hobby,” he said.

Davis may be best known for his “American Revenant” book series, which consists thus far of one novella, two full-length novels, and one short story published.

“I’ve just recently finished a new novella in the “American Revenant” world, which I hope to release very soon,” said the writer, whose works can be found on Amazon by searching for John L. Davis IV.

While his writing has attracted a growing audience, the wordsmith balks at saying his tales have reached the level of being “wildly popular,” at least so far.

“The term ‘wildly popular’ would give credence to the idea that the series has taken off and is both financially and socially successful. It’s neither, though I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from readers, so I’ll keep plugging away at it,” he said.

In addition to multiple books, Davis’ writing resume also includes a screen play for the short film entitled “American Revenant: Hometown Exodus.” The film was released in a limited showing at B&B Theaters in Hannibal on Oct. 14, 2016. The movie has since been released on YouTube for all to view free of charge.

Barometer of success

Unlike Hollywood, which frequently bases the success of a film solely on what it generates at the box office, what barometers are used to determine the popularity of a short film like “Friend” or “American Revenant?”

“That’s really hard for me to answer. In our case, with ‘American Revenant,’ I would say viewership and positive feedback,” said Davis. “Locally, we were happy to have filled so many seats for both showings (of ‘American Revenant’) at the theater. Online, so far, we haven’t had the viewership we would like to have seen.”

Writing the screen play for “American Revenant: Hometown Exodus” was a new experience for Davis, who credits Director Josh Mullner for his efforts in helping tell Davis’ story.

“When we began the ‘American Revenant’ movie, I had never written a script before, so I left it in Josh Mullner’s hands, and he did a fantastic job of adapting part of my first novella, ‘American Revenant: Hometown Exodus’ for the movie. In that instance, Josh would consult with me, and I was able to give my input to the final script,” he said.

Davis says it was a “thrill” to see a movie made based on his creation.

“To look at the screen and have characters you’ve built purely from imagination brought to life on film is an amazing, almost surreal feeling,” he said.

Since “American Revenant: Hometown Exodus,” Davis has written four other short-film scripts, including one filmed over three days last weekend in and just outside of Hannibal. The new production is not a sequel to the first film.

A new story

“This new short film, titled ‘Friend,’ is something entirely new. It is not based on any existing story,” said Davis, who doesn’t want to say too much about the new film’s plot. “All I can really say, without giving too much away, is a log line for the film: In a dismal future, far from civilization, a girl who may not be all she appears fights to rescue her friend from a merciless group of abductors.”

“Friend” features a creative reunion of Davis and Mullner.

“Josh will be handling direction and cinematography on this new film,” said Davis. “We have a couple of alumni from the ‘American Revenant’ cast and crew working on ‘Friend’ and everyone was excited to work with Josh again.”

Davis has noted a difference in the creative process from “American Revenant” and “Friend.”

“It is a little easier, simply because we have a better understanding of everything that goes into the process of making it happen,” he said.

There are other notable differences between the two Hannibal-based films.

“American Revenant was a huge production. Friend is much smaller, with a limited cast,” said Davis.

Unlike Hollywood features, which can cost millions to make, the budget for local films is considerably tighter.

“Our final budget for American Revenant was about $1,000,” said Davis. “At this time (for “Friend”) we have an operating budget of about $600, all of which has been acquired through donations from individuals and local businesses. Of course we would love to have a bigger budget, but I believe we can still produce an amazing short with those funds.”

It is hoped that “Friend” will be through post-production and ready for release by September. The public can follow the progress of “Friend” on Facebook at FriendFilmShort.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com