MOUNT VERNON, Mo. —
When Darrel Campbell read a story idea about five years ago for the movie “Last Ounce of Courage,” he knew immediately it was a project he wanted to tackle. It appealed to his sense of patriotism, family and faith.
Rodney Stone, a producer and friend from Lake of the Ozarks, introduced Campbell to Richard and Gina Headrick, of Mississippi, who had an idea for a short film meant to inspire people to stand up for the liberties guaranteed to all Americans -- liberties they believed were being stripped away.
“Rodney and I had worked together ... several years ago,” Campbell said. “He got Richard, Gina and me together. They envisioned a 15- to 20-minute film and wanted me to write the story and screenplay. It turned into a full-length script.”
The Headricks sold some land to finance the project, he said. The movie is now playing in theaters nationwide, and is due for DVD release in December.
Campbell said the movie has several themes, including patriotism, grief and family relationships.
“We wanted it to honor the military,” he said. “All my life, I’ve heard stories about relatives who served our country.”
That includes his uncle Freeman -- a younger brother of his father who was killed in Normandy during World War II.
“Grief can be a generational thing, affecting families at different levels for years,” he said. “Loss can be so painful that people shelve the pain and withdraw into themselves. I think most people can identify with that.”
Story behind the story
Campbell used personal experiences and memories to write about a man who loses his son to war.
After many years, a grandson helps him reconnect with his beliefs and family. Inspired by his grandson, the grandfather decides to reclaim the patriotism and faith that had lapsed in his hometown.
Campbell was born in Joplin and attended school in Mount Vernon. He said he has many friends and family who have fought in wars, including his father, uncle, brothers-in-law and cousins. He said he wrote the movie to honor them and their service.
“Most screenwriters, if they are smart, write from what they know, what they have lived,” said Campbell, who also directed the film. “This is not some big political movie. We wanted it to be a movie of encouragement and inspiration -- one that will help people remember what our military people are doing every day.”
The movie, filmed mostly in Paola, Kan., and North Kansas City, took about 35 days to shoot. Veritas Entertainment, owned by Steve Griffin and Kevin McAfee, acquired the rights and handled post-production and sound work. Campbell said Griffin directed additional scenes shot in Durango, Colo.
Carthage singer Duke Mason makes an appearance in the movie.
“Duke and I have been friends for a long time,” Campbell said. “We’re sort of a comedy team and plan to do several more projects together.”
Campbell also used other friends and family, including his brother-in-law, his wife, Pam, and their four children -- two of whom are pursuing acting careers in Los Angeles, he said.