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How a documentary about a local man's car collection shifted focus from the vehicles to the man himself

Ray Fauber with one of his Corvettes.
Hoop House Creative / Facebook
Ray Fauber with one of his Corvettes.

A group of filmmakers were hired to document a local man's eclectic collection of vehicles. But they soon discovered the real story wasn't about the cars, but the man himself.

The KDB Group commissioned Hoop House Creative to film Ray Fauber's collection of 89 vehicles.

Filmmaker Connor Parkhurst said while documenting the cars, they began to learn more about Ray as a person.

"And so I went back to the KDB Group, and I said, 'Listen, I know you hired us to do this car doc. But let me show you this little teaser trailer I have.' And it was something like totally different," he said.

The focus of the film shifted to Ray and his life. Fauber remembers tiny details about each of the vehicles he's acquired. That also extends to the people he meets, and the work he's done in the community - particularly for St. Jude.

"He cares about you. And he wants to know how your day is. And he cares so much about the community. And he cares so much about his kids and his wife, and he just wants to help people, but he doesn't want any recognition," said filmmaker Kristina Kliver. "He doesn't want any notoriety for it. He's just a very humble person that just wants to help people because he knows that's what he wants to do."

The movie "Hearts of Gold" takes its name from the term for the inside of a cantaloupe. Growing up, Fauber's family were one of the biggest producers of melons in the Spring Bay area.

When asked if it was difficult to convince Fauber to become the subject of a film, Parkhurst said his crew built a trust over the years they've spent filming with him.

"He's like my, unofficial grandpa. And he's just, he's one of the best people I've known. So really just trust over time, and us being who we are, and being very genuine, I think is the answer," he said.

Parkhurst said the crew shot about 100 hours of footage. They took a more holistic approach to shooting a documentary, with no script.

"We went to his house to kind of show him the preliminary cut to him and his kids of the documentary. And when it was all said and done, they're just like, 'we knew you were filming. But we had no idea it was like this,'" said Kliver. "So I think even Ray had no idea the magnitude of what we were doing. And, you know, seeing everything on his life play out on screen. It's something that's hard to comprehend for a lot of people."

The film Hearts of Gold - The Ray Fauber Story, premiers at the Scottish Rite Theater this Saturday at 7 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $20, with all proceeds going to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.