Have you ever woken up in the middle the night so excited about something that you just couldn’t sleep? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me the night I decided to write the premise for the feature film Highway to Havasu! It was 12:32am, as I was lying in bed a flood of ideas poured into my brain. I hadn’t felt this creative this inspired ever, well not to this level anyway. Knowing sleep wasn’t going to be an option, I decided to open up my notes app in my iPhone, then began to pour out my ideas. What felt like a blink of an eye, suddenly was 3:30a.m. and my tired eyes strained fighting the blue light glare of my phone. A fire had been lit, and it was a burning feeling, which I hadn’t felt since I wrote my first Screenplay in 2005.
Falling asleep that night wasn’t easy, as I knew upon waking my “Highway” journey was about to embark! The sun rose, as did I with a positive spring out of bed. Skipping my traditional morning healthy breakfast routine only to stare yet again at the same blue light, however this time from my laptop for the next three days straight. By day three, and 90 pages later, I had completed the first draft of Highway to Havasu (although not yet named) it was indeed born. I passed along the script to a few close friends and colleagues who I knew would enjoy reading a comedy. Even friends who’ve never read a screenplay. I needed feedback, truly honest feedback. It felt so right and I needed to hear it felt right to others.
My Aunt Julia Landry even got a hold of the script through my father. She had reached out to me to let me know she wanted in. It had always been a dream of hers to be a part of an independent film and she loved the script. Of course we where thrilled to bring on another Executive Producer, as I knew it would financially drain myself and my wives hard earned money. Bringing on Julia really opened up ideas for really growing this script. More funds meant more production value, and a better final product!
With three Executive Producers; myself, my wife and my Aunt, and all within the same week we were literally casting in Hollywood! Amber my wife and the film’s Line Producer began filling permits, locking down locations and hiring crew members. As we started assembling our cast and crew word got out amongst our friends about our crazy project. A family friend of ours suggested we chat with the Newspaper in Havasu about our plans to film an Independent Film on our own dollar and that we where looking for any local businesses and helping hands as we knew we would need everyone we could get behind us for support. Not 24 hours later I received an email from a Havasu local and film buff Mike Anderson. Mike had worked on Piranha 3D and Lake Mead as a Picture Boat Coordinator. Mike not only has a huge passion for film making and an extremely positive outlook on the possibilities of the project, he loved the script and he believed in it!
It didn’t stop with Mike, many Havasu locals expressed their interest and began contacting us over the next few weeks with what they could bring to the table. It felt so good to have so many people behind my crazy late night idea. With complete dedication, a clear vision and full heart, I along with my supporting wife/line producer Amber Goetz, we were actually making it happen.
Most of us have had some fun, epic adventures in our lives, which we wish we could re-live over and over! For some, it may be a road trip adventure, for others just a crazy night out with best friends. These adventures for most of us are experienced during our high school or college years. We all love to re-live those fun moments and memories through slightly elaborated stories, we enjoy sharing over and over again.
Highway to Havasu is a depiction of experiences which I’ve had, and funny characters, which I have encountered in my youth and adult years. The three main characters are all depictions of me in certain ways. Some people might think of Highway as just another teen comedy, with the same story told for the hundredth time, however it is much more! H2H is a coming of age, spring break, road trip, love story, drama, adventure! An adventure many will relate to and enjoy. I ask you to take this journey with us and ride along with Dylan, Billy and Maxi and choose your own adventure. “It’s time” to let go, feel young, free and adventurous again! The Adventure begins Spring Break 2016!
Jeff Janke – Writer/Director of Highway to Havasu