Kenton Bartlett could be considered unusual director. He wrote his first feature film, “Missing Pieces,” when was 19. He finished directing the film at 23. Now the film is being marketed to film festivals. That kind of success at such a young age is a fantastic story in and of itself, but to add to the story, “Missing Pieces” has been lauded by several movie critics as one of the best, if not the best, film of 2011.

How he came up with the storyline for “Missing Pieces,” which involves a man who kidnaps two people in the hopes they’ll fall in love, stemmed both from practicality and natural storytelling. “It first came out of a laundry list of practical constraints to try to combat ‘low-budget indie’ conventions,” he said. “We were just trying to expand our small budget to make our movie appear as “big” as a legitimate movie. Then outside of that, the story details came from personal experience.”

The process behind the film was difficult, said Bartlett. “Every part of the process has seemed like an impossible hurdle to get past, and even the smallest obstacles were much more difficult than they should have been,” he said. “We sent puzzle packages out to a list of 100 actors then spent several months calling them all until they hung up on us, finally said ‘no,’ or in Boone and Melora’s case… said ‘yes’.”

Bartlett, a Birmingham, AL native, filmed “Missing Pieces” within six weeks in Birmingham in 2009, with the more expansive nature shots filmed in different parts of the country. The actors that agreed to the film–Mark Boone, Jr. and Melora Walters–weren’t the only big names Bartlett attracted to the film; the composer of the score, Richey Rynkowsk, recently worked with Clint Mansell on the score for “Black Swan.”

Bartlett is of two mindsets when it comes to the accolades his film has received. “The positive response from the film critics has been really encouraging,” he said. “However, at the same time it has been confusing and disillusioning that we have had so much positive response from critics and have been rejected from nearly every major film festival we have submitted to. We’re working on trying to figure that one out.”

Still, the film could help put Birmingham and its hidden artistic talent on the map. “That would be really great if [the film] could [bring attention to Birmingham] since so many Birmingham locations are featured in the movie and so many community members have worked on it,” said Bartlett. “It would be great if someone would just step in and take over the promotional reigns and publicize the film enough to make that happen!”

His advice to aspiring filmmakers is to just do things. “Just make stuff!,” he said. “Don’t think about the future, don’t worry about a larger goal, and don’t worry about being ‘successful.’ Just use whatever resources you have available to create for the sake of creating.”

You can check out more about “Missing Pieces” at the official website, Facebook page, Tumblr, IMDB and Twitter. You can also view the trailer and poster below.

missing pieces poster

By Monique Jones

Monique Jones blogs about race and culture in entertainment, particularly movies and television. You can read her articles at Racialicious, and her new site, COLOR . You can also listen to her new podcast, What would Monique Say.

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