The documentary brings the town of Forks, Washington, into light -- from its history and culture, to its somewhat bewildered but enthusiastic locals, to the thousands of Twifans who visit from across the globe. Forks' new status as a Mecca for die-hard fans of Stephenie Meyer's book and its accompanying films (so far, 'Twilight,' 'New Moon,' and the highly-anticipated 'Eclipse,' which opens June 30), have brought about some big changes to this logging town of about 3,300. What has not changed, however, is the tight-knit town's friendly demeanor and sense of pride. Marcia Bingham, the town's Chamber of Commerce Director, is pleased when visitors tell her, "We came to Forks because of 'Twilight.' We'll be back because of Forks." At a coffee shop in the Seattle suburbs, York Baur and Jason Brown seem like two ordinary guys having their usual afternoon cup. But if there are any 'Twilight' fans in the house -- and there's got to be at least one, if not 17 -- they would have found it quite a kick that these two men produced and directed 'Twilight In Forks: The Saga of the Real Town.'
The documentary brings the town of Forks, Washington, into light -- from its history and culture, to its somewhat bewildered but enthusiastic locals, to the thousands of Twifans who visit from across the globe. Forks' new status as a Mecca for die-hard fans of Stephenie Meyer's book and its accompanying films (so far, 'Twilight,' 'New Moon,' and the highly-anticipated 'Eclipse,' which opens June 30), have brought about some big changes to this logging town of about 3,300. What has not changed, however, is the tight-knit town's friendly demeanor and sense of pride. Marcia Bingham, the town's Chamber of Commerce Director, is pleased when visitors tell her, "We came to Forks because of 'Twilight.' We'll be back because of Forks."
Baur has a long-standing career in marketing in the high-tech field, while Brown is a three-time Emmy-winning director of various documentaries, indie films and music projects. Baur and Brown, together with friend and legal expert Peter Cowles, decided to produce this film with the kind of sensibility and insight that only those with a personal connection and understanding of the 'Twilight' phenomenon could bring. Baur is a native of the Pacific Northwest, and spent a good portion of his childhood at the family cabin in Forks. All three of them live in the Greater Seattle Area.
Did you have a plan on how to film this?
Brown: We kind of said, "Let's bring a camera out and see what's happening." Our approach came out from a trip out to Forks, and having seen the town, you couldn't not be aware that 'Twilight' had an association with Forks. We packed our cameras and went out, and decided to let the story tell itself.
What were the locals' reactions?
Baur: I would attribute their reaction to our stylistic approach. First, we tried to make it more like a conversation, and not overwhelming people with gear and hoopla. And second, because of my relationship with folks out there ... we were able to reference and be sensitive to, and understanding of, what the context of the town was. That helped us gain access to people in a non-threatening setting. Everyone was wonderfully open to us, and certain people were very excited about 'Twilight' and are tremendous fans. Others ... it's a big change for them, in terms of what's going on with the town. You have to keep in mind how remote it is. People are there for a reason, so the exposure is not always a huge positive for everyone there. But even people in that category were friendly to us, and saw how important this was for this area.
Was there a difference between how the younger residents reacted, versus the older ones?
Brown: For the most part, they're all aware of it; many of them have read the books and seen the movie. When you put yourself in the shoes of a high school kid, they're a little confused by it: "I grew up here, I don't get what's the big deal?" But nobody was dismissive or angry, or thought it was weird. Everybody in Forks, regardless of their age, can see there's a huge benefit, to the spirit of the town, the vivaciousness of what's going on there. Regardless of how they feel about the story, it's had an impact on their life which is positive; for that reason, they are excited by it.
Baur: The demographic isn't as young as everyone thinks [I nod my head enthusiastically at this]. It's a small town, so the connectivity amongst individual people is much greater. You have to give the school a huge credit. In a town this size, the school is the center of the town. We were invited to the graduation of Forks High School, to a football game -- and the entire community is there. The school has done a great job at involving the kids in it. Here's a great example: people from around the globe are e-mailing the school, funny e-mails to 'excuse Edward from class' and that kind of thing. What they do is funnel these to the ASB (Associated Student Body) and they handle these e-mails.
Have the townspeople seen the film?
Baur: They haven't seen the whole thing, but we did a sneak peek at Stephenie Meyer Day last year. They were definitely excited. It was disappointing to the town that 'Twilight' ended up not being filmed there, and people do understand why the decision was made to film in Oregon. So part of the reason the reaction to our movie was so favorable was they finally got their film after all. In an 83-minute film, there isn't one word of narration-- it's all the people saying everything. So they were understandably proud.
How did Summit get involved in this project? [Summit Entertainment is the studio behind the 'Twilight' saga.]
Baur: We had a connection to one of their executives, and we were in L.A. talking to Larry Carroll from MTV. We had a meeting, and by the following week we were back showing them footage. Within two weeks we had a deal. They are absolutely the un-studio; they are doing things other studios cannot conceive of, they're amazing. What sets them apart is from top to bottom, they think out of the box. They're not afraid to take a risk and try something and learn from it.
They timed your DVD release very well!
Brown: Yeah, they, in fact, packaged it with the 'New Moon' DVD exclusively at Walmart, so there's a fan special edition that includes both. [The DVDs will be released Sat., March 20.]
What is next for you guys?
Baur: We have a few coming plans, a couple tracks. One is potential opportunities to do more with the 'Twilight' saga. We need to learn more from the fan reactions to this film. We're optimistic it'll be well-received, but you never know.
Baur and Brown are definitely happy with their film, but what is more evident when they speak about this experience is their genuine desire to help the town by showing fans of the saga that this is a real place, with real people. Twifans will enjoy it because it gives a new level of depth to the fantastical world created by Ms. Meyer -- you can't walk down Diagon Alley or through Hobbiton, but you can certainly visit Forks.
The people of Forks need to be prepared, though. After fans from every continent see this film, the lines for a Bella Burger at Sully's will be insane.
Myriam Gabriel-Pollock is also a Twilight Superfan on MSN.