A Statement from the Director
As director of this documentary, I was able to capitalize on both my movie industry experience and also my close personal relationship with Horton Foote.
I met Horton in 1981 when I was hired as script supervisor on his movie Tender Mercies. We immediately bonded, not so much over our love of movies or theater, but over our love of basic storytelling, and our similar backgrounds of growing up in small towns in Texas. We shared the idea that a major influence in everyone’s life is the ground upon which that person is born and raised. That a sense of place is instilled in all of us from birth, and as a result, place is a character itself in good storytelling. We were both oral storytellers as well as writers, so that resulted in an even deeper bond. And we were both infinitely interested in each other’s birthplace and homestead because we were from the opposite ends of Texas – me from a farm in the arid Texas Panhandle, Horton from steamy southeast Texas. The majority of our conversations were not about movies and the aspects of making them, but about the differences in our native environments – weather differences, agricultural differences, social differences, and of course the similarities as well.
Horton and I never lost touch after that film. We wrote letters, for years. When he turned 90 years of age he was spending a lot of time back in his homestead in Wharton, Texas. I would visit him often, and spend hours with him driving around Wharton and hearing all the stories that became the major backdrop of his work. One day I asked him if I could bring a camera down and record some of these stories and memories. He didn’t agree immediately, but after some thought he told me I was welcome to do so -- because he trusted me. As a result, I was able to follow him around with a camera the last three years of his life. And I was able to penetrate his world deeply with that camera, capturing personal, professional, and emotional aspects of him. No other filmmaker would’ve been able to get that close.
This documentary not only chronicles Horton’s life and work, but is an intimate look into the man himself. He tells us his story through his own reflections, and gives us an inside view of the miraculous life he led, his family histories, their ups and downs, his environment and its major influences on him, all of which resulted in 70 years of beautiful plays and movies. It’s impossible to watch this film and not be mesmerized by him. And it’s impossible to not feel as if you’ve met a very special man and artist, and then yearn to know even more about him.
Directing Horton Foote: The Road to Home was not a job for me. It was an honor.
– Anne Rapp, Director