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Richard Leo Johnson scores <i>The Bottom</i>
Student film also features a performance by Bubba Lewis
Bubba Lewis

SHOT IN AN abandoned roadside gas station near Brooklet, Ga., the 24-minute student competition entry The Bottom is a complex melange of Greek myth and Americana.

It was scored by local music legend Richard Leo Johnson and features a lead performance by young Bubba Lewis of Bulloch County, better known for his roles in Flags of Our Fathers, ER, Hannah Montana, and many other nationally-known productions.

We spoke to writer-director Winn Coslick about the film last week.

What’s the basic narrative of The Bottom?

Winn Coslick: It’s a contemporary retelling of the tale about the boy who cried wolf. It’s set in rural America, and contains elements of the myth of Pegasus. There’s a boy named Seth, who gets his first job at an old gas station on a country road on its last leg. Part of the station is a big giant neon Pegasus. So the boy’s a modern day Bellerophon, who tried to ride Pegasus and was kicked off and destroyed.

How did you get the idea for that?

Winn Coslick: Myself and Heather Shiver adapted a short story called “The Bottom,” written by Glenn Blake. It’s in a book of his short stories called The Drowned Moon.

Why don’t more young filmmakers do adaptations of existing works?

Winn Coslick: I think it’s a great thing to do. I think one reason it’s not done more often is that it’s difficult to get permission. Luckily Glenn was kind enough and excited enough about the movie to let us do it for free.

Richard Leo Johnson scored The Bottom.

Winn Coslick: Yeah, we have music from The Legend of Vernon McAlister, his last album, and he also did some original music for it. When I sent Glenn a copy, he called me right away and said, “Oh my God, it’s like this music was written for this story.” It really adds an eery vibe.

It seems like most scenes set in gas stations tend to be in slashers.

Winn Coslick: Well, this is not a slasher movie. There are comic elements to it. It’s a darker story, but these comedic elements bubble up. There’s a sad ending to the story but I think it walks that line between humor and tragedy and fact and fiction. All of a sudden you can find yourself on the wrong side of that equation, and that’s where Seth finds himself. His pranks lead to problems.

This has kind of a large cast for a student film.

Winn Coslick: There are nine people. The story is told through the people that come through and stop at this gas station. It’s somewhat episodic. The visitors push the story along.

How did you manage to get Bubba Lewis?

Winn Coslick: Well, we were extremely lucky. Bubba Lewis is from Statesboro, and he had been working on episodes of ER and it just so happened be in town for the shooting of our film. Stratton Leopold sort of got the ball rolling for us. The idea was that our film would really showcase Bubba’s talent, which I think is huge.

He’s in every scene, so we needed a great actor. It was a fortuitious moment, kind of like finding an old gas station that provided us with all these beautiful elements. Also, we had another stroke of good luck of having Bubba living only about 20 minutes away from where we shot the film.

The Bottom screens Fri. Nov. 2 at 11:30 a.m. at the Trustees Theatre.