• Johnnie Brannon

Behind the Scenes | Call Me Harmony | The Invisible Pilot for HBO and how that came about.

Updated: Mar 26

June 17, 2021. I got a call from Robert Babcock from NWA. He's an old friend who I've worked with on a few film projects with here in Arkansas. Robert got me hooked up on Chariot a few months before I started on this gig (I'll share that story next month). He asked if I was free to help a production that was based out in L.A. They were needing someone from LR to pick up an item and overnight it back to them. I said absolutely.

I then got a call from Donny McGuire, Production Manager for AMPLE Entertainment. This was a simple PA gig. I had to drive to the State Police Headquarters in LR and overnight some discs. Piece of cake.

July 7, 2021. I got a text from Robert. He asked if I was available to do some PA work on the same project that I had helped out on in June. Would include location scouting and snagging some court documents in a couple of small towns in Arkansas.

I wasn't sure if I was going to be available.

I got a call from our Film Commissioner sometime around this time. A film which would eventually be called Pursuit was coming to Arkansas. He, the film commish, asked if I was interested in being John Cusack's assistant. Apparently Cusack likes to have someone around to help out when he's on a set. I told him I was totally down. Cusack was only scheduled to be here for a few days. Would have turned into a fun gig I thought.

I wasn't the only person who was suggested for this position but I was someone who was trusted not to blab about it on FB and got the nod which I appreciated. Needless to say, I didn't get a call and that left the door open to work on what is now called HBO's The Invisible Pilot.

Here is the trailer to that Cusack film that was shot in central Arkansas.

I was on board and I got the logistics from Donny. My destination would be Des Arc, Arkansas, a little town about 1 hour away. I always love a road trip.

My job was to go door to door and see if there was anyone who would be willing to let us shoot at a house that looks specifically like the house listed below.

Besides the house, Donny sent me a couple of texts throughout the day to hunt down a few other locations. There were some churches in the town of Hazen and an airfield that was a big part of this story.

I drove to Hazen to check out a small personal airfield. I think this was mainly used for crop dusting. Got a few shots and sent them back over to Donny. There is a trailer on the other side that I believe someone was living in.

The one person I chatted with who was willing to let us use her house that was also located in Hazen. Needless to say, the producers ended up going with the house that was originally sent to me, located in England, Arkansas.

That was pretty much it until we started filming July 18 & 19th.

A little Tiktok I made while driving to the set in England, Arkansas.

Other than location scouting, I had booked 6 folks for background.

They were to be part of the search crew looking around the river where this story took place.

I also ended up working with the camera crew who were catching b-roll around Des Arc, Hazen, and Biscoe, Arkansas. As a matter of fact, I'm driving a beat up van around the town of Biscoe in the film. Not sure if I'll make the cut.

After a long day of moving and grooving in the Arkansas heat, I helped the camera crew unload their gear at their place of stay which was in Lonoke, Arkansas.

It was a very long and busy few days but very rewarding. For one, I got hooked up with AMPLE and they are a fantastic production team to work with. I met the Executive Producer Phil Lott who was very down to earth and knew my name, which I thought was pretty cool.

I worked closely with Production Manager Donny McGuire and had a great time. We wrapped out by taking the rental cars back to Enterprise and dropping him off at the airport.

As always, it was great to work again with Robert Babcock and this time I was able to bring Arkansas filmmaker Molly Wheat onboard. We were the three locals that worked on the Production Assistant side of this episode titled "Call Me Harmony."

With Robert Babcock in Des Arc, Arkansas. Just east of the bridge.

Wrapping up Day 1 on "Call Me Harmony." Ep of The Invisible Pilot. We made base camp just east of the bridge.

Another cool surprise was seeing old friend Greg Fallon re-enacting the actions of the man that this doc is made after. Greg Fallon is an actor who lives an hour or so south if Little Rock. As always, it was great catching up with him. You can see the bridge behind him. (I stole this photo from his FB page).

All in all, it was a great experience. One of the better experiences I had working on productions last year. This gig lead to working on two episodes of Murder In The Heartland on Discovery+. Now, 10 months after working this project, it has a release date. April 4.

And that is an official wrap on The Invisible Pilot. Now...onto the next set.

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