An important family issue is the reason “All Those Small Things” was filmed in Spokane. The movie’s writer and director, Andrew Hyatt of Spokane, was scouting locations, but his wife’s condition prompted a stay-home order before such was commonplace.
“My wife was pregnant with our fourth daughter,” Hyatt said while taking a break from filming in Vancouver, B.C. “There was no way they would be able to travel anywhere for the filming of it.
“In fact, my wife held off on inducing until we were able to finish the Spokane filming. We wrapped on a Tuesday, my daughter was born on that Friday. So with all these family details in mind, our ‘Pacific Northwest town’ became Spokane.”
“All Those Small Things” is making its debut at the Seattle Film Festival. The independent movie features James Faulkner (“Game of Thrones,” “Da Vinci’s Demons”) as a successful British game show host who ignores his best friend’s calls.
After discovering that his pal was terminal and passed away, the popular host, Jonathan, ventures on a 4,600-mile spiritual quest after receiving a letter from a fan he inspired who resides in small-town America. Jonathan is surprised who wrote the letter and rolls with the differences between London and a small town.
“When the story came to mind, it was the contrast of such a proper British man coming to small-town America that led to so many humorous interactions in my mind,” Hyatt said. The concept of where “All Those Small Things” would be filmed was birthed in Malta, where Hyatt and Faulkner were filming “Paul, Apostle of Christ” in 2017.
“We were discussing life and the legacy that one might leave behind,” Hyatt said. “This question of, ‘Have I done enough in the world?’ ‘Will I be remembered for something good?’ ‘Will I be remembered at all?’ Very real questions that were sort of scratching at that depth of humanity we all have in common.
“It felt like such a universal thing to me, not fenced off by cultures or borders. Just very human. So, I wanted to take that and explore it, ask that question to all of the audience. ‘What is my purpose here? Am I wasting my life?’ But I also wanted to offer an answer at the end of that exploration.”
The soul-searching makes for a satisfying, deep and often amusing film. Give Hyatt credit for inventing a musical subgenre, big band and hip hop, which inspired some of the movie’s funniest scenes.
“I honestly just wrote it thinking it would be hilarious,” Hyatt said. “It wasn’t until we had our wonderful composer on board, Sean Philip Johnson, a massively talented individual, who called me to say, ‘So, you need me to create basically an entirely new genre of music for this scene?’ But he did it in the end, and I love that moment of the film.”
The attention to detail – the local accent, tattoo culture – gives the film a boost. Kerry Knuppe, who plays Ruby, who is stuck in a one-horse town tending bar and caring for her grandmother, studied locals before the shoot. “I saw how people in Spokane spoke and what they looked like,” said Knuppe, who lives in Los Angeles. “It’s important to get those things right.”
Executive producer Nike Imoru, who also cast the film, tried to exude authenticity. “You want it to look real, and I think we did a good job,” Omuru said from her Kendall Yards office. “You have this sophisticated celebrity from England who comes to the bar and meets Ruby, who has a certain look. All of that is as important as the dialogue.”
Unlike some prior films, it’s evident that “Small Things” was shot in Spokane, though the town in the movie isn’t called Spokane. Hyatt expertly uses the Garland District. “Our fictional Pacific Northwest town had to feel very small, and the Garland District offered a main street that was believable that it could be the downtown of our fictional town.”
The Washington Cracker Building was used extensively, and Hogwash Whiskey Den was part of key scenes. The Bull Head in Four Lakes delivers the small-town feel Hyatt was searching for while shooting in the area in October and November of 2019. “They’re all great locations,” Hyatt said.
Faulkner enjoyed his autumn in Spokane, according to Hyatt. “If only he was able to see this area in the spring or summer, I’m sure he would have liked it better,” Hyatt said. “Just kidding, all jokes aside, this area and the people are obviously very different than his typical lifestyle of London and the south of France.
“But I know he found the people of Spokane humble, hard-working, wonderful human beings. We were able to take him and his wife to some of the local haunts, including Churchill’s.”
The only drag for Hyatt is that there isn’t a local bar that can pass for a British watering hole. “Unfortunately, there aren’t any proper pubs that have the sort of history you can get overseas,” Hyatt said. “You know the kind you can imagine J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis talking about life over a cigar and pint.
“So we did go to London and shoot a few days in those. Perhaps I’ll have to change that for Spokane some day and build us a proper pub like that.” Which also begs the question, can Spokane have a film studio?
“Studios are only as successful as the infrastructure around them,” Hyatt said. “So, if there was a real commitment from the city, the state and the film community to make sure that enough content was being produced, then yes, it can always be successful,” Hyatt said.
“Our first step as a state would be to boost the cap on the tax incentive and continue to make quality content so that the crew base can strengthen and others from around the country start to look at Washington as a major player. … We have something beautiful and important to say to the rest of the world. I think we are on a good journey to start doing that.”
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