Thursday, April 24, 2014 · 11:26 a.m.
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The story of little Dottie and her quest to purchase a liver for dinner can be traced back hundreds of years, according to Hunter Billings.

"It evolved from a teacher finding a bone in a graveyard to a girl who gets a liver," he said. "It was passed down through the African-American tradition, and a bunch of storytellers picked it up and started telling it."

According to the story, a bad little girl named Dottie never listens to her mother. When Dottie is tasked with going to town to get a liver for dinner, her mother specifically tells her not to cut through the graveyard. 

Click here to read a version of the story. 

Billings, a film student at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film in Nashville, is seeking funds to bring a modern version of the tale to life with a short film called "Dottie and the Liver."

A Kickstarter campaign has been started to raise $10,000 to cover the cost of hiring professional sound mixers, hair and makeup artists, and a director of photography.

If funded, the film will be shot on film stock using miniature models to achieve a "much bigger film for a smaller budget," according to Billings.

The models will include a variety of trains and even a replica of Chattanooga’s Walnut Street Bridge. Many of the train models were purchased on eBay to keep costs low.

The shooting style pays particular attention to detail. Many big-budget movies like "Alien," "Lord of the Rings" and "Back to the Future" have used a similar technique, according to Billings.

"The closer you get to the model, the more attention you have to get to detail," he said. "Every piece of the paint on that train model is going to show up."

This bridge model will be painted blue to replicate the Walnut Street Bridge. Billings will use actual shots of the bridge, as well. (Image: Contributed)

Billings can use the equipment at Watkins to curb editing costs. He estimates a budget of $10,000 can create a film valued at well more than $21,000.

A Chattanooga composer has recently signed on to work on a score for the film. 

Filming and editing "Dottie and the Liver" is only a part of the story. For Billings, being a filmmaker is all about following his dream. He spent four years as a pre-med student before a deployment with the Army.

"It was what my parents wanted for me," he said. "But it messed with me."

Billings slipped off the pre-med path and, instead, began following his passion for film and story. Soon, he decided to dive headfirst into the art form.

"I just told myself, ‘Do what you want to do,’" he said. "You’ve got this one life to live. So far, I love every minute of it."

Billings said he spends up to 16 hours per day, six days a week on the film.

"It’s not because I have to; it’s because I want to," he said.

If filming and postproduction work continue as planned, he expects a May 2014 date for the premiere of the film.

Click here for more information on the film.

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