TRAVERSE CITY — Country musician Matt Austin steered a borrowed 1965 Ford pickup down a deserted Port Oneida road, a cowboy hat resting on the dashboard.
Filmmaker Sam Logan Khaleghi and cinematographer Carl Ballou captured the action from the truck bed behind, aided by car-mounted video cameras.
The footage was for a scene in Austin’s upcoming music video, “Redneck Date Night.” The video — expected to be released the first week in June — was shot earlier this week in and around Traverse City and Leelanau County.
“To me it’s more than a video,” said Khaleghi, a Michigan native whose SLK Films production company operates between Los Angeles, Nashville and Detroit. “It’s a short film featuring this area. It was a chance to do scenes in a place we call home.”
The project is the result of a chance meeting last summer at a Shelby Township bar.
Khaleghi was there to promote his military-theme film, “Approaching Midnight,” which played in select theaters last fall. Austin, a Royal Oak resident who recently opened for country music stars Montgomery Gentry, Jerrod Niemann, Josh Gracin and Chris Cagle, was there to perform.
“He brought me on stage to give out videos,” said Khaleghi, 30, a University of Michigan and Northwestern University graduate who was nominated for a Chicago/Midwest Emmy award for his role as a producer on the 2010 short film, “Prison Boat.” “That led to conversations about our favorite films, foods and places in Michigan.”
It turns out both men vacationed in northern Michigan while growing up near Detroit.
“When I was a kid my mom and dad had a pop-up camper, so we would come up here and go camping,” said Austin, also 30, as the pair climbed the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes for another video scene. “Those were literally the best years of my life. It’s good for your soul. Here at the top of the Sand Dunes looking at Lake Michigan, this is insane.”