For The Love Of Dolly

The Nashville Screening
By Duane Gordon     

      There was one thing the audience at the Music City screening of the Dolly fan documentary For The Love Of Dolly seemed to agree on completely: They loved the film.
      What appeared to be one of the larger crowds of the festival laughed and applauded throughout the hour-long film which profiles Dolly fans Harrell and Patric, a gay couple from Texas whose home is plastered with Dolly; Jeannette from California and Melisa from Nashville, who run the length of Dolly’s Pigeon Forge parade route each year in elaborate costumes; and David, whose sister and parents credit his fandom for his success in living with cerebral palsy.

Some of the film participants prior to the screening: From left, Melisa, David, Director Tai Uhlmann, Patric and Harrell.

      Festival Artistic Director Brian Gordon introduced the film by explaining that festival officials attempt to attract to the screenings several documentaries on music for its “Music Films In Music City” schedule and that For The Love Of Dolly was an excellent picture which exemplified the spirit of that category better than any other.
      It was preceded by the hilarious short Short History of Sweet Potato Pie and How It Became a Flying Saucer.
      The screening provided the first views of the film for Jeannette as well as for David and his family, and all of them said they enjoyed it thoroughly and each of them could be heard loudly laughing throughout the showing. The audience members agreed, with one Dolly fan going so far as to say she wished she could obtain a copy of the film to show her friends so they would know she “is not the only one!”
      Director Tai Uhlmann confirmed that those behind the film are in talks for DVD distribution and cable airing and that both of those deals could come in the near future. Meanwhile, the film is scheduled for several additional festivals across the country over the next couple of months and has been invited for submission to many more.

During the Question and Answer: From left, Director Tai Uhlmann, David and his mother, Jo-Ann Schmidli.

      After the showing, the very engaged audience offered several questions of the director and the film’s subjects, all of whom were in attendance. Some of the questions included:
  • How Uhlmann came to make the film: She was a Dolly fan already.
  • If the film’s subjects knew each other prior to the filming: Yes, they had all met at various times at Dollywood and other Dolly events.
  • Did the editing process require the cutting out of much material: Yes, it resulted in cutting a great deal of footage the filmmakers wanted to keep and hated to lose.
  • If others in addition to these three sets of fans were interviewed for the project: Yes, several dozen others were interviewed, but time constraints required the focus be limited to only a few of them, so they chose those who both had the most compelling stories and about whom they had shot the greatest amount of footage.
  • Approximately how many hours of footage was shot to whittle down to the 56-minute film: More than 100 hours.
  • What is David’s favorite Dolly song: “I Will Always Love You.”
  • What is happening with the dolls Harrell makes and said in the film he hopes to sell at Dollywood: He still makes the dolls but they are not being sold at Dollywood and he cannot market them himself commercially because of Dolly’s control over use of her image.
  • What is Melissa doing now: She had moved to Nevada and scaled back her fan activities and is now moving back to Nashville but doesn’t anticipate being as active a fan as she once was.
  • Has Dollywood already opened for the season: Yes, and the parades shown in the film have already taken place.
  • How did Jeanette and Melisa find Judy's car they look in during the film: Jeanette and the film crew were in Nashville to meet up with Melisa and head to Dollywood. Melisa drove by Judy's house on her way to work each morning and one day saw a new car there with the temporary tag showing where it was purchased, so they decided to drive by and see if the old vehicle had been traded in at the same dealership. Jeannette tried to buy the car (an attempt which is not shown in the film), but it was not for sale.

    Tai, David, Jo-Ann, Jeanette, Melisa, Patric and Harrell, who is holding a doll which Dolly is shown in the film autographing.