Two years ago, the folks at the local boutique production team Make Something Beautiful filled Shipping & Receiving for the debut of their Funkytown Circus short film. Recently, they returned to celebrate and honor the creative energy pulsing through Fort Worth with the screening of The Twilite Hour.
This short film was a passion project for director Warren Cook, allowing him to look at the lives of artists from a different perspective than Funkytown Circus’ Fairmount house party; the day-to-day grind, the emotional turmoil, the regret and loss hidden beneath the eventual entertainment.
It all began with a connection to the music of Jude Gonzalez, who portrays a musician with whom the audience enters the titular bar. Inspired by her commitment to 100 days of songwriting, Cook invited her to come over to his house and write songs with him. “We started getting together every Thursday night at my place, drinking vodka and Red Bull and singing, writing songs, and things just came out of it.”
They shared stories of the roller coaster existence that lies between the spark of inspiration and the realization of a performance. Those conversations and the process of writing with Jude motivated Warren Cook to develop The Twilite Hour. With collaboration from artists of all stripes, the creative swirl of Make Something Beautiful drew out a collective of talent to tell the story of a single night at a local bar where truth and lies mix and mingle alongside the rhythm and blues of a series of musical acts. “I wanted to do something with a few of the tunes I had, and I wanted to make a narrative piece at some level. What a journey from doing documentaries, entirely a different beast.”
Casting the Near Southside’s Twilite Lounge as the neighborhood bar where this collection of characters cross paths was an easy choice for Cook just as it was natural for him to recruit many of his favorite local folks to populate the cast.
People like Keegan McInroe, the traveling troubadour, who opens the film with a philosophical consideration of the nature of the self as well as contributing the tune, “I Got Trouble,” which resonates thematically with the film. McInroe was on hand before the screening to perform that song and a few others, including Steve Earle’s paean to Townes Van Zandt, “Fort Worth Blues.”
In the film, Bonnie Bishop gives a soulful performance of one of her songs. She was in attendance as well, freshly back from touring her album The Walk. Henry the Archer frontman, Richard Hennessy, is another musician featured in The Twilite Hour, Make Something Beautiful also produced a music video for their song “The Bad” last year.
Simon Flory is frantically hilarious as a Mariachi crook, The Southside Pirate’s John Rody showcases a sweet moment of pathos sitting at the bar alongside Ansley Dougherty, who left Fort Worth for Nashville last year. Opera singer Kenny Clymer, who portrays the bartender, set the stage by showcasing his magnificent voice.
In addition to the short film, Make Something Beautiful, also showed a recent video they did about the inimitable Nick Huff, maker of high-quality knives, following the model of the vignettes they have created since their inception.
After the screening, there was also a station set up for attendees to answer random questions spread out across a table in front of them. The production team filmed the responses for release as part of a future series; one creative endeavor begets another.
The creative company continues to generate great work, taking home the 2020 American Advertising Federation’s Mosaic Award, honoring their Blue Zones: TransFORTmation for its dedication to diversity and inclusion, at the February ceremony held in Fort Worth. They will also enter The Twilite Hour into consideration for film festivals across the country this spring.
An Austin native, Lyle Brooks relocated to Fort Worth in order to immerse himself in the burgeoning music scene and the city’s rich cultural history, which has allowed him to cover everything from Free Jazz to folk singers. He’s collaborated as a ghostwriter on projects focusing on Health Optimization, Roman Lawyers, and an assortment of intriguing subjects requiring his research.