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Josh Doke spent three years on his first film. After the film, titled “Goodland,” was completed in 2017, he secured distribution rights for the murder mystery set in rural western Kansas. The film takes place in the titular town — Doke’s hometown — after a dead body shows up on a local farmer’s land the same day a mysterious photographer comes to town. Law enforcement is left to figure out what’s going on underneath the surface, leaving a twisted turn of events in its wake.
Doke said a formal distribution deal became possible after he read about the American Film Market, an annual film industry event in Santa Monica, California.
After reading the book, Doke reached out to Yennie, an author and frequent collaborator of films presented at the Film Market. This turn of events put “Goodland” on multiple independent theatre markets around the country, thanks to help from Yennie and Parade Deck Films, a company based out of Portland.
For Doke, the film was a long process from its conception in 2014 to a finished product at its film festival run in 2017. At that point, Doke and his company spent about six months doing rewrites and working out other various pre-production tasks like casting and scouting for on-location filming spots.
In September, Doke set up a Kickstarter fund to raise an extra $12,500 to help fund production and post-production on the project. From there, the production process moved to shoot the film in just 17 days, a short time frame that Doke knew he had coming into the project.
The end of the film’s shoot in October 2015 led almost straight into post-production and the editing process, with a deadline of September 2016. Despite the timeframe from production to finished product, Doke said that he and his company felt prepared for this process and gave credit to his earlier experiences in film for preparing him for these restrictions.
Location was an aspect of the film Doke knew would be an important role in reflecting certain themes and aesthetics in the final product. This led him to shoot most of the film in Goodland and other rural towns in western Kansas.
Trimble, Doke’s director of photography and fellow 2012 University alumnus, shared this sentiment with Doke, adding that locations added to the film’s visual potential.
After post-production, Doke began putting the film into festivals. He said that quality over quantity was always on his mind during this process, which helped lead him to Yennie.
Now, with distribution rights and a small theatrical run behind him, Doke looks forward to releasing “Goodland” to the public, as well as seeing how the film does during a current limited Redbox release.