Big Moccasin is an intimate look into the lives of four people who live on Big Moccasin Road, a 20-mile stretch of pavement in the Appalachian Mountains of southwest Virginia. These people represent mountain culture, its fading roots, and the essence of self sufficiency, tradition, and faith. It is a close-up vision of Appalachian life, focused on the richness of simplicity, friendships, the fragility of life, and the inevitability of death.
An intimate look at four people, tucked away in an Appalachian Valley, living their lives on Big Moccasin Road.
Geraldine Frazier is a woman of strong religious faith. Her faith aids her through her dying days of bed-ridden monotony. A devout baptist, her vision of the afterlife has allowed her an acceptance of her fate, and with each fading day, she awaits her time to join her husband in the family cemetery located in the back yard.
Mouse is a small man of incredible strength: mentally and physically. Mouse has instructed himself through life with his strong morals, beliefs, and philosophies that suggest appreciation for the land. He is afraid of the future, of technology, greediness, processed foods, and the inability to survive that people demonstrate today. His words are very wise, his shot is very precise, and his love is as big and vast as the valley to which he has made a modest home for himself. Mouse is a character who champions through life. He is an ideal representative of mountain culture: a culture that is rapidly dwindling.
For many years, Polo has struggled. He has struggled with his health, his relationships, and with his financial matters. Polo was born and raised on Big Moccasin road, and has stayed true to his Appalachian roots. He enjoys hunting, drinking beer, and smoking cigarettes. It's the sensitivity and love that he displays for his family and friends, his genuine sense of humor, and his ability to survive big on very little, that make him a noteworthy character.
Steve Burke is a Navy man who comes from a legacy of bad reputation. Also born and raised on Big Moccasin, Steve has always lived with the “Burke” reputation, one that has never had the good graces from the people of the valley. Despite the negative connotation surrounding his family name, Steve made a suitable life for himself. He is a man of adventure, but not in the traditional sense. Like his best friend, Polo, Steve’s sense of humor and unconventional ways of seeing the world allowed him to live his life as an outlaw of sorts. His passions are: collecting things from the past, back country horseback riding, his dog Mickey, and the old stories of his childhood.
About Big Moccasin Road
Big Moccasin is a 25 mile stretch of road that runs through Russell and Scott counties in southwest, Virginia. The road runs through Clinch Valley, and displays stunning views of Clinch Mountain. Many things can be found up and down Big Moccasin Road: deer, cattle, horses, tobacco, abandoned homes, pick-up trucks, wooden barns, rusted wagons, stray dogs, big trees, weathered men, religious women, tiny chapels, pastors, dirt roads winding their way up the mountain, and the ghosts that linger from the past.
The area is full of history and folklore: stories of the Civil War, of the Depression, and of the times that Clinch Mountain was settled. Legend has it that the residents of the Clinch Valley are descendants of Polly Francisco; a woman on a wagon train headed west, who had fallen ill and was left behind by her family. She was taken in by the Francisco family and eventually married George Francisco. Her grave can be found in a remote location, at the top of Clinch Mountain that is only accessible by horseback. There are remnants of the past all up and down Big Moccasin Road. There are gravestones that exist in isolation, tucked away in the back of houses, on expansive acres of farmland.
The Music of Big Moccasin
There is much historical and musical richness in the region. Big Moccasin was filmed on a road in Scott County, birthplace of the Carter Family. The Carter Family Fold is a music performance center in the area. It honors the legendary A.P., Sara, and Maybelle Carter, whose first recordings helped to shape the commercial country music industry. The music of the region still lies true to it’s roots. Bluegrass and gospel music can be found everywhere. There are many small venues throughout the valley and in the mountains that house some of the greatest musicians in America. Allen Hicks, a local musician and Mandolin maker, runs a Friday night jam session which draws in a crowd of locals. The people who play at his name session are all musicians from the area. With a strict no alcohol policy, (as most venues value their religious backgrounds,) Alan Hicks has created a slice of Virginia history in his garage. The Pickin’ Parlor, a small music shop in Weber City, is also a go to venue to hear local musicians pickin’ and plucking. For Appalachians, the music isn’t so much about precision and perfection as much as it is heart and soul. There is a real struggle in their music, but there is also a real appreciation for the simple. Appalachian people find beauty and happiness in the simplicity of life, in their faith, and in their love. The music is a reflection of that.
Folk Soul Revival
Folk Soul Revival (also known as FSR,) is an American country music group. It’s current members include Daniel Davis (guitar and vocals,) Justin Venable (banjo, harmonica, and vocals,) Daniel Vanover (guitar, harmonica, and vocals,) Brandon Sturgill (bass and vocals,) and Dan Witt (percussion.) ‘Prompting the Dapperness’ reached #12 on the iTunes country charts and #99 on the overall charts on the day of it’s release. It was charted on Billboard Magazine’s Heatseekers Charts at #10. In 2011, the Virginia tourism board awarded FSR the ‘Virginia Band of the Year Award.’
Folk Soul Revival has an incredible following and fan base. Their fans are often referred to as “the Congregation,” due to their loyalty and support to the band. While filming Big Moccasin, Chelsea and Andrew Moynehan were fortunate enough to see FSR perform at the Carter Fold. They are the first band in history to ever play with percussion at the Carter Fold, marking their performance legendary in the history of country music. Their rootsy, rowdy, Americana music comes from a place of innovation and re-creation, while still adhering to the traditional roots of country and bluegrass.
The score for Big Moccasin was recorded by Folk Soul Revival, with accompaniment by David Cate (on keys) and Kevin Jackson (on fiddle.)
Alan Maggard is the recording engineer on the film’s soundtrack. The music was recorded in an intimate studio in Big Stone, Virginia. Alan Maggard received a Grammy in 2002 for his recording of Ralph Stanley and Jim Lauderdale’s, “Lost in the Lonesome Pines.” The record won the award for “Best Bluegrass Album” of the year. Maggard has recorded much of Ralph Stanley’s music. He recently recorded part of the soundtrack for the movie “Lawless.”
“It’s amazing how many people from country music come from the Appalachian Mountains. Music, it’s the way of life here,” says Maggard. Alan Maggard’s recording studio was started by his father, Charlie Maggard, in 1964. Charlie Maggard cut his first record in the living room of their house. The first studio was built on the front porch of the house. The studio gained popularity through word of mouth in the community and became what it is today. It is a staple in country music and bluegrass history. With it’s charming comfort, and wonderful hospitality from Alan Maggard, Maggard Sound was certainly a pleasant place to record a soundtrack.
Producer JBEAM mixed the score for Big Moccasin. His style is innovative and original; using vintage outboard systems and modern techniques to give the music a classic but contemporary sound.
Official Selection for the 2014 Virginia Film Festival!
We are delighted to announce that Big Moccasin will be returning home as an Official Selection at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville, VA, USA.
Official Selection for the 2014 New Orleans Film Festival!
We are delighted to announce that Big Moccasin has been selected to have it's North American Premiere at the 25th anniversary edition of New Orleans Film Festival in Louisiana, USA. Described by MovieMaker Magazine as “a happy blur of daiquiris and alligator nuggets, passionate, intelligent filmmaking and bizarre bouncy castle encounters,” and as one of the “25 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee.”
Official Selection for Raindance Film Festival 2014!
We are delighted to announce that we will be having our UK Premiere at the Raindance Film Festival, London, UK. Listed by Variety as one of the world’s top 50 ‘unmissable film festivals’, Raindance-premiered hits include Pulp Fiction, Memento, Old Boy, the Blair Witch Project, Pusher, Ghost World and Love Exposure.
Official Selection for the 2014 Visions du Réel!
We are delighted to announce that Big Moccasin has been selected to have it's World Premiere at the 2014 edition of Visions du Réel International Film Festival in Nyon, Switzerland. It is one of the greatest documentary film festivals in the world and we are very excited to be a part of their programme.
Virginia Film Festival 2014 - Charlottesville, VA
New Orleans Film Festival 2014 - New Orleans, Louisiana
Raindance Film Festival 2014 - London, UK
Visions du Réel 2014 - Nyon, Switzerland
Chelsea Moynehan - Co-director
The film stems from personal connection with the area. Appalachia is the birthplace of Chelsea’s grandparents, and her deep connection with Appalachia, her roots, inspired her to create a journey through Appalachia as she saw it. She wanted to illustrate Appalachia in a way that was communicable to everyone, to humanize the experience. Growing up in New York, Appalachia seemed like a foreign place, but it was a place from where much inspiration and beauty could be drawn. It’s a place so culturally rich, and even at a young age, Chelsea was able to recognize that.
Andrew Moynehan - Co-director
Prior to starting this project, Andrew had never been to Appalachia. He went there with fresh eyes and an open mind, and despite the language barrier; his Northern English accent and their thick mountain dialect, he was able to form close relationships with the people of Big Moccasin that will well outlast this filmmaking process.
Trailer by Terence Krey
Photography Post Production by Emily Winiker
Portrait of Chelsea and Andrew Moynehan by Emily Winiker
Allan Maggard Quote from myswva.org
Additional Trailer Music The Majestic Heights Quartet - If We Never Meet Again
Color-Grading & Motion Graphics by Tamino Castro
Motion Graphics by Nathaniel Milton
Sound Design by Matt Nelson & Grant Elder
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