Carmel High School graduate bring film to Heartland

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As a Carmel High School student, Laura Palmer Graham’s film teacher took the class on a field trip to the Heartland International Film Festival.

“That was my first touchpoint with filmmakers and a possible career in entertainment,” Laura said.

Laura, a 2010 CHS graduate, is the executive producer of “Always, Lola.” Her husband Jeff Graham wrote and directed the film.

“In that way, it’s special to be bringing this film home because it’s a full-circle moment,” Laura said.

The film will be shown at the Heartland International Film Festival, which runs from Oct. 6 to 16 at various venues in the Indianapolis area. “Always, Lola” will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7 at Glendale Landmark 12 and at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 8 at DeBoest Lecture Hall in Newfields.

The film was shot in August 2021 in 11 days in Indiana and Ohio.

“Most features are much longer shoots, but we were fortunate to have excellent actors and excellent crew who were up to the challenge,” said Laura, who is a human interest producer on the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” show. “Jeff has worked on final edit, music and coloring. By this August, it was already playing festivals, which feels like a fast turnaround.”

The film debuted in June at the Marina Del Rey (Calif.) Film Festival, winning the best picture award.

Jeff had worked on a small web series with one of the actors four years ago, but this is his first feature film.

“Part of the reason I wrote it the way I did was something with constraints that would fit the means and parameters of what would be a viable feature film to put up on its feet,” Jeff said. “It’s a small ensemble dramedy in the vein of ‘The Big Chill’ or ‘The Breakfast Club.’ The story was personal for me because it was loosely based on the death of my best friend from high school.”

The film follows five friends who are mourning and celebrating their friend Lola, who died of an overdose the year before on an annual camping trip.

“As they arrive at the camping trip, secrets of her death slowly spill out,” Jeff said. “They have to reconcile with the truth of what happened. It threatens to destroy their friend group and their memory of their friend.”

Laura met Jeff when they were students at Miami University in Ohio. Two of the actors are Jeff’s former classmates from Miami’s theater department.

For more, visit alwayslolafilm.com and heartlandfilm.org.

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