“Mango Dreams” is an independent film written, produced and directed by upcoming artist John Upchurch.
He will be premiering “Mango Dreams” here at ETSU on Feb. 6.
An open reception and Q&A session will follow the screening.
“Mango Dreams” is a historical drama that follows a Hindu doctor and a Muslim auto rickshaw driver as they cross India together in search of the doctor’s childhood home. The story focuses on the cultural aspects of India and the unusual friendship the two men form on their travels.
Upchurch’s inspiration came from his visit with his wife to India. He had gone to meet her family for the first time before they got married. Upchurch described his response when he arrived in the country.
“My first experience with India was sensory overload,” he said. “I was very inspired by the culture and the arts I saw, and I wanted to learn more about the Indian art and Indian culture.”
When he got back to the United States, he began the process of creating a movie based on India’s history and culture.
The making of “Mango Dreams” took approximately two years for Upchurch. Besides the time it took to write the script and produce the film, Upchurch had to raise the film’s funds on his own.
Initially, they had tried gaining financial backing from other companies, but to no avail. Before “Mango Dreams,” Upchurch had never made a full-feature film before.
“Without having made a feature, people don’t really take you seriously,” Upchurch said.
Without any financial aid, Upchurch took it upon himself to earn the funds. Using the income he brought home from his career as a computer programmer, Upchurch managed to save just enough to begin making his film.
Next, what he needed were actors. Though he didn’t have the funds some of the actors expected, it was the story that drew them in. The actors loved the story and were willing to work on the film, despite the funding.
Upchurch said popular Indian actor Ram Gopal Bajaj had lowered his standard paying fee because the actor admired the idea of “Mango Dreams” so much.
“Making a feature is a huge uphill battle with everything: money is an issue; personality can become an issue on set,” Upchurch said.
But with a liking for the film and the genuine interest expressed by those on set, the attitude of the people who came together to breathe life into “Mango Dreams” was an overall positive experience for Upchurch.
Upchurch said, with all the “walls being built around the world, physical walls and metaphorical walls, we need to focus on building more bridges.”
“Mango Dreams” will be shown Thursday in the D.P. Culp University Center auditorium beginning at 7 p.m.