Blake Judd '04
Film Making is His True Calling
When Blake Judd ’04 was growing up, he was intently focused on basketball, playing for four years for his high school team in Greensburg, Ky.
“I knew I wasn’t going to become a basketball star,” he said, “but I didn’t think beyond it.”
As an English major at Transylvania, he played intercollegiate basketball for three years, but his true calling, he says, was always there.
“I think I always knew what I wanted to do,” he said. “Filmmaking came naturally.”
Judd runs JuddFilms, a Lexington-based independent production company, and has just completed his first feature film, Seven Signs. The movie was directed by J.D. Wilkes, front man for the rockabilly band Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers.
When Judd saw the band perform at The Dame in Lexington, he liked them so much that he returned to see them again, with his camera. He and a friend shot concert footage, pieced it together, and showed it to Wilkes.
“He asked me if I’d like to make a documentary,” Judd said.
Wilkes’ idea was a movie that would give voice to southern individuals. He wanted to show that the older, stranger South still exists, despite the expansion of the “New South’s” urban sprawl.
“We went out for 17 days and shot about 80 percent of the movie,” Judd said.
The film follows Wilkes through seven southern states as he walks the back roads of Appalachia, nailing up seven signs, each one representing a different apocalyptic theme, and seeks to explore forgotten and pushed aside southern traditions, cultures, religions, and daily activities.
Seven Signs premiered in Nashville at the Belcourt Theater on January 30, 2007, and played to a packed house. It was screened at Transy in January 2008. Judd said there are plans to enter it into film festivals and that several distributors have expressed interest.
Seven Signs has led to other projects for Judd. A live concert DVD for Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers is in post-production, and he’s working on a concert documentary for Hank Williams III.
“I like the niche I’m in,” Judd said. “My style is guerilla and that’s how I like it – hands-on everything.”
Judd shot his first film, Friends. Filmed. Not Forgotten, during his junior year at Transy for the first Alcohol Awareness Film Festival, where it won first place, and he maintains strong Transy connections.
He credits English professor Tay Fizdale’s film classes and philosophy professor Peter Fosl for influencing him to pursue his interest in filmmaking. In fact, Fosl makes an appearance in Seven Signs.