The Ground Beneath Our Feet

An American road movie spanning 250 years

Author: Seán Collins (page 1 of 3)

Seán Collins Talks About The Film With Mark Reardon.

Mark Reardon in KMOX studios in Saint Louis

Sean spent a few minutes with Mark Reardon on KMOX today. Many thanks to Mark and his producers, including Fred Bodimer, for their interest in the film.

If you’re interested in helping to make this film, visit the Support page (en français) to get connected to the project. And “like” the project on Facebook for updates on the film.

We’ve transcribed a few minutes from the interview. Or click on the KMOX box up above to to hear the whole interview.

MARK: So, I’m fascinated, as you know. I’m a big movie guy, and I thought this was interesting: that you’re behind a film that is bringing — or has brought — French filmmakers to here in Saint Louis to do a project. Tell me about it.

SEAN: The film is called “The Ground Beneath Our Feet” and we’re describing it as “an American road movie that spans 250 years.”

MARK: (laughs) “The Ground Beneath Our Feet” not to be confused with “The Wind Beneath Our Wings.” Bette Midler is not doing a song for this movie, is she?

SEAN: Not yet.

MARK: OK, good. So, is it a historical drama?

SEAN: We’re trying to tell two stories at once.


SEAN: There’s a contemporary storyline about an American ex-pat who has lived most of his life in France, and gets called back to America for a family emergency, and ends up having to drive across half the country. So, that’s one road trip.

MARK: In what era is that set in?

SEAN: That’s contemporary.

MARK: OK. So that’s modern day… then you flash back to how long ago?

SEAN: To the 1750s, and 1760s, and 1770s. So, the time just as Saint Louis is being founded. And one of the scenes — a lot of this takes place in Illinois, what was called “Pais de Illinois,” the country of the Illinois Indians — and there were thousands of French people living in Illinois up until 1763, when the Seven Years’ War ends with the Treaty of Paris, and the King of France cedes all the territory east of the Mississippi to Great Britain.

So, imagine, you’ve lived in Illinois — you’re a Frenchman — you’ve lived there for maybe 200 years, your family. You’ve got farms, you’ve made communities starting in Cahokia all the way down to Kaskaskia.

MARK: It’s amazing when you think about the history.

SEAN: Oh, it is. And then suddenly, the rug gets pulled out from underneath your feet. So, that’s what the movie’s about: for both of those characters, the contemporary one and the historical one.

An Update on the project — Quelques informations concernant le projet


Quelques informations concernant le projet – Nous avons pris la décision de reporter le tournage de The Ground Beneath Our Feet en 2015. Nous avons besoin de plus de temps pour récolter des fonds pour le projet et nous voulons continuer de travailler sur le script et sur la préparation du film… Les français n’ont pas beaucoup de temps pour eux, et auront davantage de temps pour tourner durant l’été 2015. Nous ne sommes pas tristes de prendre cette décision car nous voulons faire le meilleur film possible et du temps supplémentaire ne pourra que nous aider.

Nous tenons à remercier tous les donateurs et amis qui nous ont soutenus. Sans votre enthousiasme pour ce projet, nous serions incapables de le réaliser. Mais nous allons réussir et nous sommes tous fiers d’avoir un rôle dans la réalisation du film. Merci pour votre soutien. Et encore merci de partager notre page Facebook à vos amis. N’hésitez pas à continuer de parler du film autour de vous.


An Update on the Project — We have made a decision to postpone the filming of The Ground Beneath Our Feet until 2015. We need more time to raise money for the project and we want to continue work on the script. The French guys have a limited time they are available this summer and will have more time to film in 2015. All of us feel good about this decision because we are committed to making the very best film we can and the extra time will make that possible.

We want to thank all of our donors and friends who have supported us. Without your enthusiasm for this project we would be unable to complete it. But we will complete it and the finished product will be a film we are all proud to have a part in bringing to light. Thank you for the support. And thank you for sharing our Facebook page with your friends. Please continue to spread the word about the film.

Gregg Goldman Joins The Team

© Gregg Goldman

© Gregg Goldman | click any photo to enlarge

Actually, to be fair, Gregg has been on the team for awhile now. When Théo, Alex, and Aurélien were in Saint Louis several weeks ago, we borrowed a ton of equipment from Gregg: a couple camera bodies, some kickass optics, and some lights. But Seán has talked Gregg into accompanying us for parts of our road-trip (parts not already covered by Kent Phelan) to document the making of The Ground Beneath Our Feet.

© Gregg Goldman

© Gregg Goldman

Gregg earns his living as a commercial photographer in Saint Louis. But his heart, we suspect, might still be in photojournalism.

© Gregg Goldman

© Gregg Goldman

Gregg is well-known in the tight circle of the culinary community in Saint Louis, and he has done a lot of work in the kitchens of some of the best restaurants in town.

© Gregg Goldman

© Gregg Goldman

His love of food took him to Vietnam to document the markets and restaurants of that country.

© Gregg Goldman

© Gregg Goldman

© Gregg Goldman

© Gregg Goldman

Gregg’s work is spontaneous and beautiful. And we’re thrilled he’ll be with us to photograph the filmmakers and the locations when we shoot The Ground Beneath Our Feet this summer.

© Gregg Goldman

© Gregg Goldman

You can support the making of the film online. We have premiums available for all levels of giving. And we’re grateful for every last dollar we raise to make this picture. Thanks for your help.


Indie Film To Be Shot In STL* in 2015 (updated)


Alex Fortineau and Aurélien Loevenbruck. photo: Théo Reynal

Alex Fortineau and Aurélien Loevenbruck. photo: Théo Reynal

* …and Illinois, Ste. Genevieve, New Orleans, Texas, New Mexico, and Kansas.

The producers call it “an American road movie spanning 250 years.” It’s also an attempt to depict French colonial life in the region in the early days of the City of Saint Louis.

“The Ground Beneath Our Feet” tells two stories simultaneously: one is a contemporary tale of Tom, a young ex-pat American who lives in France and is called back to his hometown of Albuquerque. A little strapped for cash, Tom struggles to find his way across half the country to Saint Louis, where he confronts a family emergency that shakes him to the core.

The second story, told initially through flashbacks and then through a degree of magical realism, is the story of a young single father living in Le Pays de Illinois in the mid-18th century. Jean Brûlé is raising his daughter, Anne, near Prairie du Rocher, Illinois.

In the Autumn of 1763, a bigwig from New Orleans arrives at Fort de Chartres with his 14-year-old stepson in tow. Laclede and Chouteau tell les habitants about the treaty signed in Paris earlier that Spring in which the King had ceded French territory East of the Mississippi to Great Britain.

The French families of the Illinois Country are told that the land where their families have lived for hundreds of years is no longer French territory. The news is, of course, shocking.

Their migration away from Illinois was gradual, but steady. Some returned to Quebec. Some went across the river to Ste. Genevieve. Some went to New Orleans. And some went to the new village founded by those two visitors to the Fort: Saint Louis.

But some went much further West: to Texas and New Mexico. (Galveston, TX was founded by a man who grew up in Kaskaskia, IL. The legendary Billy the Kid was shot and killed in New Mexico in the home of a Frenchman who had come from Illinois.)

As Jean Brûlé makes his journey to New Mexico in 1764, he passes through the same monumental landscape Tom drives through more than two centuries later.

The story at the heart of “The Ground Beneath Our Feet” tries to dig deep into the human experience of having the rug pulled out from underneath us: how do we re-group, re-think, re-imagine our lives when we think calamity has made it impossible to go on?

The two characters — while separated by some 250 years — share the experience of loss and re-invention. And the filmmakers hope their stories will cause audiences to renew their own confidence in the human ability to recover and move on.

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At the Bequeete-Ribault House in Ste. Geneviève, Missouri: Hank Johnson, Aurélien Loevenbruck, Théo Reynal, and Alex Fortineau.

Hank Johnson, Aurélien Loevenbruck, Théo Reynal, and Alex Fortineau.
At the Bequette-Ribault House in Ste. Geneviève, Missouri.

Film indépendant qui sera tourné à Saint-Louis ( et en Illinois , à Ste . Geneviève , à La Nouvelle-Orléans , au Texas , au Nouveau-Mexique , au Kansas … )

Les producteurs l’appellent « un road movie américain qui s’étend sur 250 ans. ” C’est aussi une tentative de décrire la vie coloniale française de la région pendant les premiers jours de la ville de Saint Louis.

“Le Sol Sous Nos Pieds”, raconte deux histoires en même temps : la première,  une histoire contemporaine qui raconte l’aventure de Tom, jeune expatrié américain qui vit en France et qui est contraint de retourner à sa ville natale d’Albuquerque. Un peu à court d’argent, Tom a du mal à se rendre à Saint -Louis, ville où il doit faire face à une situation de famille critique qui le rend triste.

La deuxième histoire, racontée d’abord à travers des flashback et ensuite grâce au  réalisme magique, est l’histoire d’un jeune père célibataire vivant dans Le Pays des Illinois au milieu du 18ème siècle. Jean Brûlé élève sa fille, Anne, près de Prairie du Rocher dans l’Illinois.

En automne 1763, une personne influente de la Nouvelle-Orléans arrive à Fort de Chartres avec son beau-fils de 14 ans dans son sillage. Laclède et Chouteau apprennent aux habitants qu’on a signé un traité à Paris plus tôt au printemps, traité où le roi a décidé de céder le territoire français à l’est du Mississippi à la Grande-Bretagne.

On dit alors aux familles françaises du Pays des Illinois que la terre où vivent leurs familles depuis des centaines d’années n’est plus un territoire français. Cette nouvelle est terrible pour tous ces habitants.

Leur migration loin de l’Illinois a été progressive , mais constante. Certains sont retournés au Québec. Certains ont traversé le fleuve pour s’établir à Ste . Geneviève. Certains sont allés à la Nouvelle-Orléans. Et certains sont allés au nouveau village fondé par les deux visiteurs au Fort : Saint Louis.

Mais certains sont allés beaucoup plus loin à l’Ouest : au Texas et au Nouveau Mexique. ( Galveston, TX a été fondé par un homme qui a grandi à Kaskaskia, IL. Le légendaire Billy the Kid a été tué au Nouveau-Mexique dans la maison d’un Français venu d’Illinois . )

Jean Brûlé, qui fait son voyage au Nouveau-Mexique en 1764,  traverse les même paysages que Tom traverse en voiture plus de deux siècles plus tard.

L’histoire au cœur de “Le Sol Sous Nos Pieds” essaie de creuser profondément le ressenti que ces gens ont eu quand ils ont dû quitter leurs terres : comment pouvons-nous nous regrouper, repenser, ré-imaginer la vie quand nous croyons que la malchance en a rendu la continuation impossible ?

Les deux personnages – bien que séparés par  250 ans d’histoire – partagent l’expérience de la perte et de la réinvention de soi.  Les réalisateurs espèrent que leurs histoires aideront le public à renouveler sa confiance dans la capacité humaine de récupérer et d’avancer.

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Et surtout,  merci!

Fort de Chartres / photo: Seán Collins

Fort de Chartres / photo: Seán Collins

Kent Phelan To Join Our Team

© 2014, Kent Phelan

© 2014, Kent Phelan | click to enlarge any photo

We are thrilled to announce that photographer Kent Phelan will join us this summer to document the making of The Ground Beneath Our Feet. He’ll be taking photographs behind-the-scenes and of our locations as we travel around the country. Kent is an extraordinary photographer: elegant and careful, and capable of capturing not only moments, but moments with soul.

© 2014, Kent Phelan

© 2014, Kent Phelan

Kent & Théo

Kent & Théo

Kent and Teresa Phelan came to the kickoff reception we held in Saint Louis when three of the French filmmakers were scouting locations. In a room filled with 60 people, I noticed that Kent and Théo, our director of photography, had eased themselves to the edge of the room and were deep in conversation — an intergenerational meeting of the minds, I thought. And it made me glad.

© 2014, Kent Phelan

© 2014, Kent Phelan

I admire Kent’s work for all sorts of reasons. Partly, it’s my admiration of his craft: his careful work to document tone and texture and color and pattern. You see it in his landscapes and shots of architecture. You see it in his urban photographs and his rural pictures, alike.

© 2014, Kent Phelan

© 2014, Kent Phelan

It is, as if, he’s subject agnostic. He seems to be captivated by the texture of this world of ours and in freezing an instant for us to study.

© 2014, Kent Phelan

© 2014, Kent Phelan

For a film made by young filmmakers, I am very happy to have someone of Kent’s stature along for the ride. I can’t wait to see how he sees our work.

© 2014, Kent Phelan

© 2014, Kent Phelan

Our film is partly about landscape — the French say “le paysage.” In my role as armchair etymologist, I see in their word for landscape the word for country, for a people. It hints at the root of our major theme: we are connected to one another through the ground beneath our feet.

I especially like that Kent Phelan and his camera will be around to document this work of ours this summer, and the happy faces of the people who will make it.

© 2014, Kent Phelan

© 2014, Kent Phelan

If you’re interested in helping us make this film, please visit our Support page for information on making a donation and to learn about the premiums that are available at all levels of giving. And thanks.

Help Us Make This Movie

Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 3.14.48 AM

The time has come to raise the money to make “The Ground Beneath Our Feet.” Watch the short video and consider supporting the project. Large gifts and small ones — they all add up. Thank you for being generous and helping to realize this vision.

Soutenez un ambitieux projet de film indépendant. Et merci.

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