Shift work film debuts Sunday

Register Reporter

Submitted photo
Iola resident Chance Luttrell and Los Angeles filmmaker Nathan Cheney worked to produce “Punch Clock,” a documentary about working life in southeast Kansas. The two worked for three years on the film and are releasing the final cut at a free debut at Iola’s Sterling Six Cinema at noon on Sunday. An additional showing, also free, will be at 6 p.m. Monday at the old Iola Cinema, 202 S. Washington.

Two young filmmakers have turned the spotlight on southeast Kansas in a short documentary, “Punch Clock.” The film tells the stories of typical shift workers and the dreams they had before falling into a daily work routine.
The first draft of the film won “Best Documentary Short” in the Southern Winds Film Festival last year, said former Humboldt resident Nathan Cheney. Additional footage for the 20-minute film was shot earlier this year, said co-producer and Iola resident Chance Luttrell.
In homage to their roots, the final cut will debut at a free noon showing Sunday at Iola’s Sterling Six Cinema. Another free showing, at 6 p.m. Monday, will be at the old Iola Cinema, now Fellowship Regional Church, 202 S. Washington.

LUTTRELL and Cheney began filming in 2007. They interviewed subjects in Colony, Chanute, Humboldt and Iola.
“It’s been a process this 2 1/2 years,” Luttrell said. Post-production work just finished in Los Angeles.
With documentaries, “the story is really told in the editing room,” Luttrell said. “A lot of the interviews are over an hour long. We took over 15 hours of footage and made a 20-minute film.”
“People you see every day — it’s fascinating to learn what they wanted to be,” Cheney said of the people’s tales. “It’s so different from what you see.”
Instead of being depressed or angry about the twists in life that led them to an everyman existence, Cheney said he was surprised so many of the subjects were happy.
“That was a surprise to us younger guys,” Cheney said. “We learned about people and we learned about ourselves in the process.”
“When you say dream, people always think it’s gotta be this big ‘I want to be a superstar’ thing. But a lot of them were really simple,” Luttrell noted.
The hopefulness they found while filming “Punch Clock” has left both young men changed.
“You don’t necessarily have to give up your dreams,” Luttrell said. “When I first started, I thought these people working 8 to 5 had given up.” But, he noted, “The older you get, the more mature you get, you realize you can fuel your energies in different ways. If you’re a musician, you don’t have to be a rock star.
“I was pretty naive when I went into this,” Luttrell added. “I thought, ‘Here’s all these depressed people who hate their jobs’ — but there’s no unhappiness. They had a lot to be thankful for.”

THE BIGGEST barrier to pursuing original dreams was unplanned parenthood, Cheney learned. “Another was not having the resources or not being supported in what they wanted to do,” he said. “For a lot of people, life happens.”
The same might be said for Cheney and Luttrell.
The two got a helping hand in the production of “Punch Clock” from former Humboldt resident Jerry Whitworth, now a Hollywood producer of such television fare as “Survivor” and “Oprah’s Big Give.”
“We started doing the documentary and a woman we were working with happened to be working with Jerry’s mom,” Cheney said. That serendipitous encounter led to Whitworth taking an interest in the fledgling producers’ project.
“He really helped us draw up the story in a more professional manner,” Cheney said. So much so that the two have re-scored the film and finessed it to this final cut.
They feel so confident in the film, in fact, that “all of next year we’ll be submitting ‘Punch Clock’ to different (film) festivals,” Luttrell said. Each submission costs $40 to $75, he said. The two are accepting donations to support the process. The year thereafter involves screening the film, he said.
The multi-year time frame is typical of documentaries, Luttrell said. Still, both he and Cheney prefer the genre to fiction.
“I think it’s much more powerful to see real people with real outcomes,” Luttrell said.
Both are in pre-production on new documentaries.
Cheney, son of Theresa Cheney of Iola and Craig Cheney of Humboldt, is working on, “A Fatherless Generation,” about children of single-parent homes.
“It’s about choice,” he said. “You don’t have to let your past determine your future.”
Luttrell, son of Iola’s Bill and Terri Luttrell, is working on a profile of pencil artist Rick Barkdoll.
Both Cheney and Luttrell said they are living their dreams.
Cheney will graduate in May from Hollywood’s Columbia College with a degree in Cinema and Television with a focus on production. He is currently serving as an intern at ABC television with plans to continue there after graduation.
“I feel blessed to have many opportunities here,” he said.
Luttrell, who played with the alternative rock band Agathy, is pursuing his own, more folk-based, acoustic music now that he hopes will be used in movies.
Luttrell works at Pacer Energy Marketing in Humboldt. He no longer punches a time clock.