Tahlequah native to debut Cherokee Co.-based film

Tahlequah native Jeremy Choate, writer and co-director of "Tenkiller," based his film off of life in Cherokee County.

"Tenkiller," a film set in Cherokee County and around Lake Tenkiller, is set to premiere Friday, Nov. 18.

Writer and co-director Jeremy Choate grew up in Tahlequah, but currently lives in Edmond with his wife, Kara, the film's co-director and director of photography.

"Tenkiller," which is set to debut on Amazon, is the couple's first film, and draws inspiration from Jeremy's childhood while growing up in Tahlequah.

"It's kind of based on just growing up around Tahlequah and being a kid. The bad guys are really wild," said Jeremy. "It was like living in a movie, growing up in Tahlequah. It's an interesting place and every person is kind of a character."

The film is set to follow an 18-year-old machinist, one year after the death of his best friend. The machinist is also struggling with the separation of his parents and the violent life around him, while dealing with the loss of the friend.

The Choates shot the movie in several spots in Cherokee County, including Cookson, Keys, Lake Tenkiller, and Tahlequah, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Kara said having diverse local connections helped when the group was filming. Among the places featured in the film are a machine shop in Cookson, the Powerhouse Dam, and even the Southside Drive-In. She said being allowed to shoot in places around the area helped to give their film a real and raw feeling.

"What was really cool is we could just call someone, and they'd either give us clearance, or they knew someone who could give us clearance, so we were able to have these cool backdrops that almost served as characters themselves in the film," said Kara.

After showing the film to several friends, family, and individuals at the DeadCenter Film Festival, Kara said they received several comments on the authenticity "Tenkiller" portrays, which she said is due to using real spaces and real people, instead of trained actors.

"Some people are going to love it. Some people may hate it," said Kara. "We're proud of it being our first film. It's not a perfect film, but it's a time capsule for us, and our biggest hope is to just do the next one."

While the couple's first film focused on shooting in Jeremy's hometown, their second, "The Awkward Stage," was shot in Harrah, Oklahoma, where Kara grew up.

The Choates' films are produced by Blood Relative Films, a production company they created

Check it out

Tenkiller is set to premiere Friday, Nov. 18 on Amazon, while the "The Awkward Stage" will show on a to be determined date in the summer 2023. A distribution site is not yet established for the "The Awkward Stage."

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