Spicy: Everson goes drag (racing)

Local experimental filmmaker Kevin Everson's entry in last year's Virginia Film Festival was The Spice Bush. This year, it's his newest work, Cinnamon. Appearances to the contrary, Everson is not developing a cinematic "Spice" franchise, a la Krzysztof Kieslowski's Colors trilogy.

But if he were, Everson confesses, next up would be Curry.

In actuality, Everson, 40, explains that Cinnamon is about "the craft of art-making," in particular, "African-American art making." And the African-American artists at Cinnamon's heart are drag racers.

For Everson, the film became a "kind of homage to my parents, working." The filmmaker infused elements of his father– a mechanic, pit crew worker, and occasional racer– and his mother, a bank teller, into his protagonists: a bank teller/drag racer and her faithful mechanic.

These disparate professions have long fascinated and bemused Everson, since, he explains, they inevitably evoke major misconceptions: "These are two careers where the layman always thinks that the worst can happen. That's the first thing they think: 'Has your mom's bank been robbed?' No. 'Is it dangerous?'" he says.

Bearing this in mind, Everson did not envision Cinnamon as a blood-and-thunder Fast and the Furious raceway melodrama. His approach was infinitely more intimate.

The film is "all about drag racing," Everson says, "but there's a dance between the driver and the mechanic that I'm trying to... imply."

With the racetrack as his film's backdrop, Everson focused his 16mm and 24-frame video cameras on what his two leads "do around it," he notes.

The young director also concentrated on his characters' intense professionalism, something he regards as highly noble. Everson objects to how mediocrity is what's "rewarded in this society."

Above all, Everson wants his audience to carry away the knowledge that "There are other forms of art being made." The film is his way of showing appreciation for "how people devote themselves to their craft."

With Cinnamon undergoing what Everson calls its final "tweaking," he reflects on his single outstanding obstacle, during its production.

"Just money," he laughs, "'cause I didn't have any!"


Kevin Everson makes an intimate film about drag racing.