If you only know actor/director John Schneider from his work on TV — “The Haves and The Have Nots,” Smallville,” and, yes, “The Dukes of Hazzard,” you’re missing out on a much bigger picture. He is also a passionate indie film director, among other things.
Schneider has turned his passion for independent film making into the traveling CineFlex Film Festival, which finishes its run at the Grand Theatre in D’Iberville on Thursday night. He has spent several days on the Coast meeting and greeting and talking films. He will be at the Grand through tonight and he would love for you to stop by and visit with him and catch some of the films from his festival.
“People are loving it,” Schneider said. “It’s great to see people excited about new movies that don’t have a couple of million dollars for an advertising budget.”
The film fest started in Slidell and will travel around the South before it concludes in Schneider’s adopted hometown of Baton Rouge.
“For D’Iberville, it’s winding down, but for us, it’s only getting started,” he said. “We’re only done with week two of an eight-week run.”
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline
Schneider, the working man’s poet laureate of Baton Rouge, has spent the past couple of months cleaning up and starting over as one of the many Louisiana residents affected by the August flooding, the worst natural disaster in the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy.
He lost his home and he suffered severe damage to his movie lot, the John Schneider Studios.
But, he said, he’s trying to get things back to whatever normal once was.
“We’re not living in a shed anymore — we have a little manufactured home that we are living in, so it’s nice to have bathroom in the same building where we are sleeping,” Schneider said. “It’s going well, but we’re still cleaning up and seeing what props were damaged and what can be salvaged and we had to get rid of a lot of things that were destroyed.”
But he said he plans to have the studio back in working condition soon.
“Come hell or high water, we are going to do another film there in late January,” he said. “Even if we have to adjust the film to have a lot of sand in it, that’s what we will do.”
Schneider is also a singer/songwriter who has had several hits on the country charts. As a matter of fact, Schneider may have been Bo Duke to me when I was a child, but I will always remember his turn in the CBS remake of “Stagecoach,” which featured Schneider alongside the Mount Rushmore of country music — Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, David Allan Coe, Jessi Colter and Waylon Jennings. This is as cool as it gets for a fan of country music.
Schneider has turned some of his experiences with the flood and its aftermath into music for his upcoming album “Ruffled Skirts.” The album features some Louisiana royalty and he said it is dedicated to the people who were affected by the flood.
“We recorded eight tracks in what used to be our house,” he said. “It features some of the guys from Le Roux (‘New Orleans Lady’), Jo-El Sonnier and Doug Kershaw,” he said. “We have 10 great songs recorded.”
He said even the album's title was inspired by the flood.
“It’s in reference to the ruffled skirts on single-wide and double-wide trailers after the flood came through,” Schneider said.
Schneider has been performing “How Do You Stop The Water,” one of the songs from the album on his film fest tour. It’s a poignant and touching tale of man whose lifetime of memories are tied up in a house that was destroyed by the flood. As someone whose wife doesn't have any photos of herself as a baby because of Hurricane Katrina, I’m sure it’s a song to which many people on the Gulf Coast can relate.
The album, Schneider said, will be out later this month.
Rest in Peace, Mike VI
Baton Rouge has seen its share of tragedies this year, and while it’s definitely not on the same level as the shooting of law enforcement officials and the flood, the community suffered another loss on Tuesday when LSU mascot Mike VI died after battling an aggressive form of cancer.
“Mike was 12 years old, which doesn’t seem old for a tiger at all,” Schneider said. “It's just really, really sad.”