Filmmaker explores the lure of Route 66
Chloride man amazed at highway’s international appeal
KINGMAN - A Chloride-based documentary filmmaker has completed his third such film, focusing on the past and future glory of Arizona's stretch of the Mother Road.
Kirk Slack, who is also the co-founder of Out West Family Films, recently put the finishing touches on "Arizona's Route 66," a 34-minute video focusing on the history and resurgence of Arizona's section of the highway, which includes its longest single stretch.
The documentary begins with the route's Arizona origins along the Beale Wagon Trail in 1928, progressing to its role in the 1930s dustbowl migration, into its 1950s heyday as America's Main Street. Slack said he interviewed a number of people who drove the route during its height, including one motorist who first traveled it as a child in 1951.
"I worked on it from about August to January, about five or six months accumulating stuff and doing interviews, researching stuff at the museum here in town," Slack said.
As might be expected, the documentary prominently features Kingman and includes plenty of footage of the annual Street Drags events, as well as interviews with some of the participants. Slack also speaks with Route 66 connoisseurs and museum curators from Holbrook to Oatman, emphasizing the route's recent resurgence as a large draw for European tourists.
"To us, it's just another old road, you know? But I interviewed people from Swtizerland, Brazil, Germany, and they just love it for some reason," Slack said.
"I met a Swedish Corvette club, 23 members came out and they were all driving Route 66. I also met a motorcycle club from Hamburg, Germany. They even have companies - there's one that rents Harley-Davidsons to Europeans and they follow them the whole length from L.A. to Chicago.
"Today, Route 66 is like a long, paved magnet that attracts antique iron from all over the world," he added.
Slack said he came up with the idea for the documentary during the course of working on his previous film, "Destinations Unknown," which focused on some of the area's lesser-known mining towns.
"When I did 'Destnations Unknown,' it touched on Route 66, and that got me interested in it," Slack said.
"The wide open spaces have really been romanticized over the years."
Slack said he's currently working with a European production company to get the film distributed across the Atlantic. In the meantime, however, "Arizona's Route 66" is currently for sale at the local Hastings store, as well as at the Powerhouse Visitors Center and similar museums across the state. Slack has also produced a shorter, 15-minute version of the film he hopes to show regularly as part of the Powerhouse's Route 66 Museum.
For more information on the film or to place an order, visit Slack's Web site, www.outwestfamilyfilms.com.