Dukes star debuts new movie at Montana Drive-in

This Saturday, Nov. 28, “Dukes of Hazzard” star John Schneider is making a pit stop in Coffee County to perform a live concert and debut his latest movie, “Stand On It,” at the Montana Drive-in.

Schneider wrote, directed and stars in “Stand On It,” which is a tribute to the Burt Reynolds’ classic “Smokey and the Bandit” and is excited to be have showings in Coffee County and across Tennessee.

“I’m no stranger to Tullahoma, and I think it’s going to be the perfect debut for this great movie, especially if you like cars, ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ and ‘Smokey and the Bandit,” Schneider said.

 The premise of the film is a father bets his son, played by Schneider, $5,000 that he could not travel to Austin, to retrieve 400 cases of beer and return in 24 hours. Schneider’s character responds, “That was a movie, and in the movie, it was 28 hours.”

He said after having one of the first showings in Missouri, he has been receiving calls from other drive-in theaters in Tennessee, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and Florida.

Other notable actors in the movie include Cody McCarver, from the band Confederate Road, and Tyrus, a FOX News political commentator and former WWE superstar. 

Early inspiration 

Schneider said this movie has been a dream project of his, and he was inspired to make it when he took the chance of a lifetime and snuck onto the set of “Smokey and the Bandit.”

“I snuck onto the set of Smokey and the Bandit when I was 16,” Schneider recalled. “They were filming at the Lakewood Fairgrounds in Atlanta, and I heard Burt Reynolds was making a movie. I came in, climbed over a fence and talked my way onto the set and sat in that Trans Am.”

His brief cameo in the racetrack scene of “Smokey and the Bandit” is why Schneider wanted to make the movie as a nod of respect, as it gave him the courage to go to an audition. With a six-pack of beer in hand, he lied that he was from Georgia instead of Mount Kisco, N.Y., to land the role of Bo Duke.

“I owe a lot to that day on the set of ‘Smokey and the Bandit,’ so this has been a dream of mine since I was 16 years old,” Schneider said.

Later in his life he became good friends with Reynolds and Hal Needham, who encouraged Schneider to make a movie, like he did while on set of the movie “Bandit Bandit.”

Now, over 40 years after sneaking onto the set, Schneider views “Stand On It” as his thank you to Needham and Reynolds.

“That’s what I look at ‘Stand On It’ as being, not only as a tribute to ‘Smokey and the Bandit’, but my sincere thank you to Burt Reynolds and Hal Needham who definitely changed my life,” Schneider said. 

COVID challenges 

According to Schneider, the decision to have showings and concerts at drive-in theaters was in part due to the situation presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since movie theaters closed down, drive-in theaters saw a renaissance as people came back to enjoy movies while staying safe.

“Drive-ins became a force to be reckoned with again,” Schneider said. “That’s what happened across the country as drive-ins become the only place to watch movies in a time where there are no new movies to watch.”

It made sense to Schneider to showcase “Stand On It” at drive-in theaters, as going to the drive-in was a big part of his childhood. He said he was surprised to learn that, when drive-ins were opening again, the first movie played was “Smokey and the Bandit.”

“That was God’s way of saying ‘Hey, I got this. You build the ark, and I won’t tell you why and I’ll send the water,’” Schneider said.

“Stand On It” was also Schneider’s first film funded through a Kickstarter campaign, where fans could donate money to help raise funds for production. The campaign was created by his wife, Alicia Allain, when both Schneider’s event, Bo’s Extravaganza, and production of the movie were postponed to July due to Louisiana’s ban of gatherings due to the pandemic.

“Everything we spent to get ready to film and for the event was burned up and thrown away,” Schneider stated.

He admitted he was not a big proponent of using a fundraising model like Kickstarter, but Allain told him they spent a lot of money and had no film to show for it. She also reminded him of his theory that it is hard to stop something when it is already started and encouraged him to go out and film something.

“This is going to sound silly, but a lot of people don’t finish because they never start,” Schneider said.

The campaign was a success when it raised $10,150, with the original goal being $10,000, and now he is no longer as hesitant about using Kickstarter in the future.

Live music and a movie 

While the virus did create challenges to production, Schneider feels the movie is probably better than what he originally planned.

“When you watch the movie, it’s a fun ride and you have to hang on, as it’s like ‘Smokey’ and ‘Dukes of Hazzard,’” Schneider said.

Schneider added a big sign for him that a car movie is a success is when he sees people trying to peel out of the parking lot, though he does not recommend anyone try it when they see his movie.

“That’s when you know your car movie worked, which I don’t recommend at all, but if I see, I’ll smile,” Schneider said.

Before the movie, Schneider will perform a 90-minute concert. Co-star McCarver, Keith Burns of Trick Pony and the Stars & Bars Band will take the stage to perform songs in the movie. These songs include the title track “Stand On It,” a trucker inspired song called “Roy,” and a cover of Waylon Jennings’ “I’ve Always Been Crazy,” as well as songs from Schneider’s catalog.

Anyone who cannot make it to the Montana Drive-in can rent “Stand On It” at cineflixdod.com on Nov. 27.

Ticket holders are also encouraged to bring new unwrapped toys as Schneider will bee accepting toy donations at the event. The toys collected will be distributed between "Operation Noel" and "Fill the Firetruck Christmas from Landyn and Levi."

A monetary donation will be made for each toy donated and each person donating a toy will receive a $10 "Bo's Bucks" gift certificate which can be used at the venue to purchase merchandise.  

Each ticket is for one vehicle, with the max being five passengers per carload. For information about the various ticket options go to John Schneider’s Facebook page or his free app, John Schneider app, on the app stores for Apple and Android to look up ticket information.

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