Lawrence film director Kevin Willmott spent Thursday at the Sundance Film Festival building "buzz" for "C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America," his movie about what the United States would be like if the South had won the Civil War.
Joining him in Park City, Utah, were about 25 Kansas University film students and Lawrence members of the movie's cast and crew.
"We're up in the hills," Willmott said in a telephone interview. "I'm a flat-top guy, a plainsman. But so far, so good."
Willmott had just finished an interview with National Public Radio. It was his first interview of the festival, which showcases independent films and was founded by actor Robert Redford. The festival began Wednesday and concludes Jan. 25.
Willmott said he was looking forward to the film's first Sundance screening tonight. But already, he said, excitement seems to be building; people are asking about the film and wanting to see it.
It hasn't hurt that movie director Spike Lee agreed last week to be an executive producer and help the film reach a national audience. To this point, the film has been screened only in Lawrence.
"It was really great to see Spike Lee respond to the movie like he did," Willmott said. "He really gets it. He will be very helpful."
Lee's interest was flattering to Willmott.
"I knew that we had made a special movie," Willmott said, "but you have to be honest and realistic to yourself. When (Lee) called, it was the confirmation of a lot of things that we hoped."
Willmott arrived Wednesday in Park City and has spent the past two days promoting the film. His goal is to get "C.S.A." in front of who he calls "the right people."
"For the most part, it's all promotion (right now)," Willmott said. "The first screening is when everything starts. If we can get the right people at the first screening, the buzz and the business will pick up."
If Willmott's film succeeds at Sundance, he will have a large group from Lawrence there to help him celebrate.
Friends had been calling for weeks asking to sleep on his hotel room floor, he said. And several Kansas University students who have taken Willmott's classes also made the 1,070-mile trip.
"A good group of our students are here, some that even worked on the movie," Willmott said. "In that sense it's kind of a celebration of our hard work."
6News reporter Mike Rigg contributed to this report.