Corporate cube rats staring out a dirty office window from the break room, poking at the last stale pastry in the box, dream of an idyllic life on a boat on a lake. Lotawana is a slice of that life, easy and slow on the water. Forrest (Todd Blubaugh) has his own ratty sailboat on Missouri’s Lake Lotawana. He’s a handsome young man who catches the eye of the beautiful Everly (Nicola Collie). She shares his disdain for the regular patterns of society and moves onto the boat to wander the lake with him. Tanned skin and regular sex under the stars stretch the days and nights into one long beautiful dream.
They are in young adulthood and aren’t yet weighed down by the grim realities of life, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be smooth sailing for them. The hard times are inevitable. The sailboat is in poor shape. They are flat busted broke, and constantly hungry. None of this matters. Life reaches transcendent peak moments of pure joy when the sun is high and the gleaming light dances on the water. Early on, Everly asks Forrest how he’ll take care of her, and this is the question writer/director Trevor Hawkins explores; it forms the heart of the film. While absolutely sure they are blazing new trails living outside the daily grind of school and work, they make age-old mistakes.
Philosopher George Santayana said those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, and the star-crossed lovers repeat the missteps of youth with great abandon and lust for life. Forrest and Everly’s bohemian notions bring them a short time of peace and light, but since they directly conflict with societal and natural rules, our protagonists must eventually pay the price. The narcissism of youth is shown in full rage here. Forrest adds to that his own male-centric carelessness and full contempt for any structure or constraints on time and location. He disregards the fact that the very rules he loathes keep his boat from sinking. When Forrest dismissively says, “we’ll figure it out,” you already know he won’t.
“Tanned skin and regular sex under the stars stretch the days and nights into one long beautiful dream.”
Hawkins is credited not just as director and writer but also as the cinematographer, editor, and colorist for Lotawana. This is truly his project from start to finish, and it’s a family enterprise as well, with his wife, Cori Jo Hawkins, producing. Hawkins shot the production near his home in Missouri on Lake Lotawana. He financed it by taking out a second mortgage. He’s fully invested in walking the indie walk. With a crew of ten battling the elements in all seasons, this was a labor of love, not a vanity project, and it succeeds at every level.
The result is movie magic. Where the pace starts as a slow meander, we are treated to the sumptuous scenery of the lake and trees, the beautiful light around the boat. Hawkins’ incredible skills as a cinematographer are on full display. The original score by Ryan Pinkston sets off the images delightfully. Later, the pace picks up as Forrest and Everly face the challenges of adult life and the consequences of their decisions.
To offset the expense of the film, Hawkins created NFTs (non-fungible tokens ), one for part ownership in the movie and another for access to the premiere. This is a unique way to finance a project. In an interview with INDIEWIRE, Hawkins said, “When this came along, we felt it was a way to differentiate ourselves. This was a huge risk as well, but it feels right. We’re just a little bit ahead of the curve here … my personal opinion is that it’s here to stay.” This creative funding approach has allowed Hawkins to bring us this beautiful view of a messy relationship, reconciling the order and chaos in nature. The world is better for Lotawana being in it.
"…the world is better for Lotawana being in it."