Ozarks Life: MSU professor receiving national awards for short film

Kurt Heinlein adapted a one-act play into a well-received short film
Kurt Heinlein's film Between the Creag and the Sky has already won Short Film of the Year from one festival.
Published: Feb. 5, 2021 at 9:18 AM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -Silence in a theater can be painful.

That’s how it is right now at Missouri State. But just because there’s not an audience, doesn’t mean life is boring for theatre professor Kurt Heinlein.

“We just won another award,” Heinlein said opening his work email.

Heinlein just finished stepping from stage to screen by directing a short film. He adapted a one-act play by a former student, Jessica Morgan.

“It was lovely,” Heinlein said who got permission from Morgan to make the film. “I always knew (the play) would make a great film.”

“He worked so hard on developing the script,” co-star of the film Kathryn Harter said. “Changing it, and altering it, and making it work.”

With some producers onboard, and a budget of $14,000, the blockbuster-less budgeted film had a “green-light.”

“We used students and gave them credit,” Heinlein said of his crew.

“The play is written The Space Between the Sand and the Sea” - it’s set on a beach,” Heinlein said. “We can’t afford to that. So we set it somewhere else in nature.”

And that’s where the Ozarks steps in. “The Space Between the Sand and the Sea” became “Between the Creag and the Sky.”

“In the film you see a dad, 50-years old, and a teenage daughter, and he tries to reconnect with her in a setting that was special to him and his wife,” Heinlein said. “And (the daughter) is on her technology.”

“I think Kurt made the film because he has two daughters,” Harter said, “and relationships change when kids get older; when you’re in adolescence... there are beautiful things around you.”

Just days after being submitted, “Between the Creag and the Sky” racked up seven award nominations. It quickly won Best Drama Short and Best Young Actress (Kathryn Harter) at the LA International Film Festival.

“It touches my heart to know so many people enjoy the work that Kurt made,” Harter said, “Kurt deserves all the praise.”

But as far as awards go for Heinlein, the film’s director says there’s one (at least for now) that stands out from the others.

“The teaching award I got from Missouri State, from the Board of Governors and as a teacher, that meant the world to me,” Heinlein said.

For now, the film is on the festival circuit. Eventually this year Heinlein says he’d like to have a premier in Springfield; once an audience can watch.

Many locals helped make this short film possible. Here is a list of the cast and crew.

Screenplay and Direction by

Kurt Gerard Heinlein

Adapted from

Jessica Morgan’s “The Space Between the Sand and the Sea”

Produced by

Kirchner Films

with support from Missouri State University College of Arts and Letters

and Missouri State University Department of Theatre & Dance


Kathryn Harter

Ed Swidey

Director of Photography

Josh Pfaff


Andrew Twibell

Audio Design

Bobby Lewis

Associate Producers

Courtney Heinlein

Austin Herring

Brent Sexton

Developmental Producers

Richard and Lucie Amberg

Music by

Tyler Durham

First AD

Jackie Crawford

Script Supervisor/Art Dept.

Natalie Laturno

1st Camera Operator

Chris Olson

1st Assistant Camera

Logan Triplett

2nd Camera Operator

Andrew Trice


Cooper Kelley


Carter E. Williams

Makeup and Wardrobe

Emma Keifer

Production Managers

Amalea Cox

Dung Troung


Hitman Stunts


Logan Triplett


Emily Trent

Dung Troung

Special Thanks:

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Cecil the Tree Cutter

Lucie and Rich Amberg

Lisa Brescia

Edward and Robin Brown

Michele and Tim Campbell

Craig Carnelia

Leighton Heinlein

Sutton Heinlein

Levi Horrell

Maggie Marlin-Hess

Sean McEwen

Cathy McFall

Jeff Nicholson

Caleb Norman

Joe Price

Running Dog

Shawn Wahl

Robert Westenberg


Filmed at the McElroy Game Management Area

Madison County, Arkansas

Dedicated to:

Sutton & Leighton H.

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