© 2023 KMUW
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

'This is Love' returns to Wichita with Dunbar Theatre screening

Courtesy Photo
Rudy Love & The Love Family performing in Wichita.

The award-winning film, This is Love, will screen Saturday at Wichita’s Historic Dunbar Theatre. The film features famed Wichita musician, Rudy Love, who had lasting ties to the community.

“This Is Love,” the film about the life of Wichita singer/songwriter Rudy Love, has won awards around the world including the top independent film at the Rain Dance Film Festival in London. This is Love is back in Wichita and will be screened Saturday at the Historic Dunbar Community Center. KMUW's Carla Eckels recently sat down with Director John Alexander to discuss creating the film.

Carla Eckels
This is Love director John Alexander and Robert Love

Interview Highlights

JOHN ALEXANDER: When I first sort of sat down with Rudy and Bob Love to kind of feel out if this was an appropriate fit, because you, have to work so intimately on these projects. It's, really almost a personal thing first. If it doesn't work on a personal level, it's not gonna work on a professional level. One of the first things I asked Rudy, "What do you want to get out of this? What are you seeing here with this supposed movie we're doing?"

And he said to me, “Nothing run-of-the-mill.” And he didn't even miss a beat. I mean, it was like he had it canned and ready to say it. It was like he had been waiting years to say that, and as soon as he said nothing run-of-the-mill, I thought this was like divine intervention. We were meant to meet over this project because I am anything but run-of-the-mill. So watch out, you know, <laugh>.

We went way out there with it. He didn't want anything. vanilla, you know, nothing cookie-cutter. If you're gonna create something, why, follow what's been done before? Add something new and original. That's something that Rudy always did his entire life. I mean, to an incredible degree. I'm just honored we got to work together on this one project. But when he said nothing run-of-the-mill, I thought, okay we're doing this. Like, we're all in.

CARLA ECKELS: You have said — John Alexander — when making art, you have to channel your inner child and not overthink things. What do you mean?

Wow. Amazing. I didn't realize you had come into my therapy sessions and, <laugh> recorded that, but that's amazing. I think for me, the value that I can bring to the table is trusting instincts. And I think I really encourage other artists to do that because we're however many billion people on this spinning rock out here in the universe. And we all have something different to bring to the table.

I believe in trusting instincts, boiling things down to the basics. There's a spark that children have. I think some of the best art I've ever seen, visual art, is when kids doodle with crayons, because they don't question their instincts. They just ... by the time they're thinking about what they're doing, it's already done. They don't second guess themselves.

Give us an example with This Is Love. 

With This Is Love, It was intentional chaos. <laugh>. It was like, let's just go crazy. I mean, for example, Sean Rhodes had been gathering with Bob Love all of this footage, in various formats. I mean, VHS tape, laser disc, eight-millimeter film, new footage that's like 4k, 8k, it’s just completely unorthodox to cut all these different things together. And so, Sean was like, “So by the way, John, how are we exactly gonna bring all these things together?” And I sort of coined the phrase out of desperation. I was like let's go for consistently inconsistent. We're just gonna be crazy. It wasn't just a technical choice; it was actually reflective, in my opinion, of the kind of whimsical nature of Rudy’s music. It comes from the heart, it's not overthought. It’s an organic process of operating from feeling rather than from thought.

So I said, let's just go, let's go whimsical, let's go crazy. Let's not second-guess ourselves. Who cares if it's not the so-called correct way to make a film? We're gonna combine all kinds of formats. We're gonna mix colors and finger paint essentially, creatively.

But it's not chaotic. I mean, you could follow the film…

That's right ... I think the reason is because it reflects Rudy's music, you know? Funk and really funk is ... it's about the loose ends. It's about the messy stuff. It’s supposed to be loose and different. So we actually kind of coined the phrase, which is very cheesy, but it's accurate, that this was like a "Funkumentary." We were like, this isn't, a documentary. You hear about Mockumentaries and Rockumentaries we're like, well, we're doing a "Funkumentary." And remember telling Sinbad that — Sinbad, who appears in the film — I said, "do you want to be in? Do you want to be in the Rudy Love document…" I couldn't even finish my question. He was like, “Of course! I'll do anything to be in the Rudy Love documentary." But I said, actually, "It's not a documentary, it's a Funkumentary." He's like, “Oh, I love that man. It's a 'Funkumentary.'"

Carla Eckels
A free showing of the film, This Is Love will be at the Dunbar Theatre (Community Center).

Eckels: I love it too!

But, yes, the form should support the content, you know? And, if I had made a sober generic cookie-cutter documentary about Rudy Love, that wouldn't be a real documentary about Rudy Love.

Do you think the movie is educational, something people can learn from? 

Absolutely. We've actually had a lot of success in the educational institution sphere. Harvard University did a big write-up about the movie and about Rudy Love and it's shown at a lot of museums and universities and colleges and Bob Love does Q&A's because this is relevant to the arts. If you want to be a musician, if you want to be a filmmaker, if you want to be a journalist or work in radio or television, there are a lot of lessons. On one hand, it's a cautionary tale of how to not deal with the inner workings of shady business in entertainment, which is rampant, but it's also an inspiring tale of how to give your soul, essentially. It was just honestly the collaboration of a lifetime.

Why should people go see, This Is Love? 

It offers a perspective I think that isn't often seen — that is one that everyone has an original voice. I think it nurtures that fact — that everyone doesn't have to be a follower. People say, "You do you." Rudy was the original "You do you." It instills in people a sense of confidence basically to be themselves and to give to the world whatever it is that they have to give, and everybody brings something different and it's fun to watch, it's funny and it's good. I mean you can listen to the music, and it's like a dance party. I wanted to make a documentary that people could dance to that's kind of the "Funkumentary" idea.


A free showing of the film, This Is Love will be at the Dunbar Theatre (Community Center).

Doors Open: 5:00 pm

Show: 6:00pm

Featuring live entertainment from Rudy Love, Jr. and members of the Love family. There will also be a Rudy Love memorabilia exhibit.

Carla Eckels is Director of Organizational Culture at KMUW. She produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations and brings stories of race and culture to The Range with the monthly segment In the Mix. Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2020 for her work in broadcast/journalism.