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Red River Ode

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Genre  Short, Drama
Music director  Andrew Christopher Smith
Country  United States
Language  English
Director  J. Colby DolerCorey Hammett
Release date  2013
Writer  J. Colby Doler, Corey Hammett
Directors  J. Colby Doler, Corey Hammett
Cast  Andrew Lewis, Ashton Ron-Gabriel, William Cantrell
People also search for  The Ninth, One Missed Call, The Blind Side
Screenplay  J. Colby Doler, Corey Hammett

The making of red river ode

Red River Ode is a 2013 American short film written and directed by Corey Hammett and J. Colby Doler. It tells the story of a lone prisoner who has escaped from a chain gang in Northwest Louisiana in 1918. It stars Ashton Ron-Gabriel.


After being created for the 2013 Louisiana Film Prize, the film received critical praise and placed 4th overall in the festival, winning a $3k grant to invite the filmmakers back to the area for the 2014 contest. It premiered at the festival on October 5. The film was praised for its cinematography and striking use of music.

In 2014 it was part of the Official Selection for the Viewster Online Film Festival III. Out of over 500 entries, Red River Ode placed 42nd with a 'Hotscore' of 91%.


In 1918 a black chain gang prisoner is running through an open field, presumably after escaping his confinement. When nightfall arrives he builds a fire and, using his sickle, he burns off his tattooed prison number, 48073. After taking refuge in a forest, he builds himself a small hut out of brush and branches to wait until he feels it's safe to leave. Soon thereafter he begins to hear noises that are uncommon with his natural surroundings, but ignores it.

After some time of waiting in the woods he sings to himself an old chain gang song:

Oh lord, I wonder if I'm ever gon' make it back home. Oh lord, it must have been the Devil that pulled me here. More down than out.

Oh lord, I'm gon' be back home. Comin' back home one day 'for long. Away from here.

If I woulda listened to my dear old mother, but she's dead and gon'. Oh lord, if I ever make it back home I'll never do wrong no more.

Later, after failing at hunting wild animals, the prisoner is drinking nearby spring water out of a can he had kept with him from prison. He looks into the can to see it covered in blood, causing him to vomit and throw the can to the ground. After he coughs and vomits, he notices the can is no longer covered in blood and cannot find traces of any in the area. He immediately returns to his hut to find that it has been destroyed by a tree which had fallen over it. He then starts work on repairing it, only to faintly hear the words "Oh lord" in his voice sing back to him through the wind.

The following night he is awoken by strange and loud noises as well as the barking of beagles. He hears I'm Always Chasing Rainbows by Charles W. Harrison in the distance that increases in volume as time passes. He runs away, but can't see where he is due to the darkness and eventually hides behind a tree and falls asleep after the noise settles.

Waking up the next day, the prisoner searches the woods for evidence of dogs or whatever he can find to settle his confusion about the preceding night. After searching for a while, he hears clicks and breaking twigs in multiple directions accompanied by faint mocking voices and whispers. In his frustration, he punches a nearby tree and cries out in pain. The barking of beagles slowly rises and rises, only to fall silent immediately when the prisoner looks up to see what he heard.

That night he stays awake by his fire, sickle in hand. After hours of silence he finally hears the song that played the night before. He decides to run out of the woods and escape the forest. He runs for hours until the sun comes up, never once finding a way out of the forest. As he grows tired and weary and subsequently more lost and confused, he comes upon a figure, a vagabond, in the woods hanging dead from a tree. The words You can't have me are written in blood across the vagabonds shirt. The prisoner is in shock as his surroundings shift and he is now in a different part of the woods and the hanging body is gone. The wind blows and he hears his voice singing through the trees:

Oh lord, I ain't ever gon' make it back home.

He looks off into the distance in shock.


  • Ashton Ron-Gabriel as Prisoner 48073
  • Andrew Lewis as hanging vagabond
  • Production and development

    J. Colby Doler heard about the Louisiana Film Prize on Facebook after he had been struggling as an independent filmmaker in his spare time. After speaking to Corey Hammett, a former coworker of his, they decided to enter the contest with little to no money. They came in contact with Trevor Norred, a childhood friend of Corey's, who offered to fund the film with just $1,000. With 4 weeks left until the deadline for the contest, the three worked every day to write and develop the story for Red River Ode.

    Trevor Norred found their actor, Ashton Ron-Gabriel via his sister, Tauhney Norred, and her connections at Auburn University in Alabama. The group convinced him to make the 9-hour drive with them to Shreveport, Louisiana and make the film while only receiving a hotel and meals for the job. They purchased a cheap, generic prisoner costume from Party City to use for the film, but to give it the aged and realistic look, they rubbed it in dirt and boiled it in sweet tea. Lastly, they searched for land in the Shreveport / Bossier area on Craigslist for the setting of the film and received a response from a man by the name of Andrew Lewis. He had 605 acres of land in Doyline, Louisiana and allowed the 4 to stay at his hunting lodge on the property for part of the duration of the shoot as long as he could have a part in the film.


    Principal photography began in June 2013 and lasted only 4 days. The entire film was made using natural lighting and shot on a Nikon D3100. After a day of filming, director Corey Hammett was bit by an unknown spider and had to be sent to the hospital for treatment. He was released in less than an hour and filming resumed. The entire shoot was plagued with issues from faulty equipment, depleted funds and multiple injuries. Despite these problems, the crew of 3 and it's actor finished on time, but over budget by $200.


    Red River Ode premiered at the 2013 Louisiana Film Prize as one of its 20 Official Selections. After the festival it was released on YouTube and Viewster, the latter as part of its Online Film Festival III.

    Critical reception

    Red River Ode was a popular short at the Louisiana Film Prize, praised for its cinematography and use of music to compliment it's unsettling tone. Online news blog Henry Harbor enjoyed the film, saying A haunting period piece, Red River Ode, gave us some of the most beautiful cinematography of the night... It was Red River Ode that we spent the intermission discussing.


    Red River Ode Wikipedia
    Red River Ode IMDb