In 2006, Charlotte real estate appraiser Michael Lackey decided to pursue his lifelong dream of being a filmmaker He invested $20,000 in a documentary about a car tire-popping competition in the small Stanly County town of Oakboro. The finished product, called “Burnout: The Resurrection of a Small Southern Town,” drew respectable crowds later that year to a debut at The Light Factory at Spirit Square. Lackey, 50, and his film have been little heard from since.
Following are excerpts of an interview with reporter Mark Price.
Q. What's the deal with “Burnout”?
I've started re-editing it. I believe there's a cute, funny movie, at half the length. It's currently 80 minutes long and it should be 30 to 35 minutes. It's a longer process than I expected to get it cut down. My goal is to get it finished and out to a few festivals in 2009. Life keeps you busy. I have two small kids, two dogs and a wonderful wife, who is very supportive. She's been nudging me to finish the project.
Q. Have you done any other films?
I'm not that far from being finished on another (documentary) called “Laura and Lucile” that involves a friend of mine, Laura Moore, who is very funny. It's about her and her grandmother Lucile, who is this strong, very serious, very wise matriarch. It's the story of a Southern family through the eyes of a grandmother and a granddaughter. I got the idea from hearing Laura tell stories about her grandmother that kept us in stitches. It's being financed by a private donor. I hope to have it cut by the end of 2009.
Q. Ever going to quit your day job?
Right now, filmmaking is still a hobby. I have aspirations that it will evolve beyond that, but to change professions requires a lot of time, commitment and luck.
Q. And money?
I like to say the $20,000 came from my kids' college fund.
Q. That's a ton of money for a novice. What madness compelled you?
I love movies so much. I go to lot of movies at least once a week. It's the storytelling. Being a Southerner, storytelling was big part of my family. It goes back to the Civil War and hearing the stories from the grandparents, story after story after story. Film is the ultimate art form 'cause it includes so many other different art forms married together to create something. When it works, it's so wonderful. Some of the greatest moments I've had in my life were in movie theaters, in a dark room with strangers.
Q. Why a film on people spinning their tires until they pop?
It's a lot of fun and very unusual. The first time I saw it, I was absolutely blown away by the crowds, the enthusiasm and by the fact that they have made this (event) work. It's a tremendous succuss, and Oakboro was a virtual ghost town before they started having it. …Having grown up as small Southern town, it's not the first time I've seen a burnout, but it was the first time I'd seen it where people wanted to stand around and watch, over and over again.
Q. What has all this taught you about yourself?
I can accomplish a lot, if I push myself. The world is wide open, and there's no limit to what I can do.