Oklahoma teacher directing faith based film she wrote about her dad’s life who is a Vietnam vet

RIPLEY, Okla. — Oklahoma teacher Robin Maxwell usually teaches students in a classroom in Noble, Okla. Maxwell is currently on Winter break and finds herself on a film set during her school break directing a movie she wrote.

Today, the crew was scheduled to shoot exterior scenes. However, the winter weather forced the crew to make changes to how the scenes would be shot today. Maxwell didn’t want to postpone filming, as she didn’t want to get behind on the project. She immediately shifted gears and the scenes were then set up inside.

Only a few years ago, Robin Maxwell was in film school brainstorming ideas in class on an upcoming Film Festival.

“One of my directors said, ‘I’d really like to see a film that that paints a good picture of a father because there’s so many out there that are about really bad dads or abusive fathers or, you know, guys that really messed up. I’d really like to see one about a father who did something right from the beginning to the end or, you know, kind of a good father story.’ And I piped in, I said, well, my dad’s like that. He was really a great father,” said Maxwell. “Our writing teacher looked at me and he said, well, that’s my assignment for you, Robin. Write a movie about your father. And he was mostly joking, you know, because we’re just brainstorming. But I really kind of took it to heart.”

Maxwell’s father, Wayne Elliot is now 77 and is a Vietnam veteran. According to Maxwell, her dad has lived his life with such character. She said it was in the way he raised her and her siblings and that she always felt loved unconditionally.

“Not everyone lives that kind of life with it, with that deep sense of character. That’s extraordinary,” said Maxwell.

Maxwell wrote most of her script in 2020 when classes were virtual during the pandemic. It’s a faith based film called UNSUNG HERO.

“It follows my dad’s life. From childhood up through current day,” said Maxwell.

Unsung Hero has been shooting since last year on location in Ripley, Okla., where her parents live. Maxwell’s parents appear in the film as themselves from the ages of 57-77, and they have even opened up their own home as a film set. The scenes that take place in Vietnam were actually shot on location in the woods behind Maxwell’s mom and dad’s house.

A total of about 100 actors and crew have been a part of the production.

“They’ve just been really great to work with and very talented,” said Maxwell. “We filmed nine scenes last summer. We have only about three film days left, so almost all of it has been filmed.”

Many of Maxwell’s crew members she met at a Texas film festival. Maxwell’s sound designer is from Pennsylvania.

“And he has such a vision. I’ve never seen met someone so passionate about sound, but he’s part of his passion is he feels like many faith-based films are lacking in the sound department and it makes it sound like a very low-budget movie,” said Maxwell. “So he’s been with us from the beginning trying to help us get the best equipment available.”

The sound designer even flew into Oklahoma to help train the sound crew on how to use state-of-the-art sound equipment.

Maxwell says she has a great editor from Wisconsin who she describes as very artsy.

“Our composer is just an incredible, incredible person, very very gifted with movie composing and again we’re just we’re lucky to have them,” said Maxwell. “We have all these professionals that most low-budget films don’t have the privilege to have and yes I’m very excited to see what’s going to come about with this.”

Even on a teacher’s salary, this production has been a labor of love for Maxwell. She is producing her own feature film and has been able to fund the project with everything from bake sales to talent shows to chili contests all over Oklahoma to generous donations by the community.

Maxwell hopes that UNSUNG HERO will premiere on June 18, 2023, which is the perfect date as it will be Father’s Day.