FORT MOORE, Ga. (WRBL) — Misty air hung low as cars, headlights glowing, lined up four lanes across at the I-185 entrance to Fort Moore. The weather created the perfect lighting for filming, the documentary director said a few minutes later, after the crew had successfully arrived at its first on-post shoot location.

Dew drops still clung to the grass outside Fort Moore’s Hunt Club, as award-winning German filmmaker Claudia Müller embarked on the final day of three weeks’ worth of filming in the United States. Müller’s latest project is a documentary about Southern Gothic author Carson McCullers, who spent many of her formative years in the Columbus-Fort Benning (now Fort Moore) area.

“I want to make people interested in reading Carson McCullers and her great books and, you know, how important she is for nowadays,” said Müller, who will be the first to release a documentary film about the author.

Between filming b-roll shots of horses in the stables, Müller continued, “She wrote her books in the ‘30s and ‘40s and she was so visionary, you know. All the subjects she wrote about like racism, like homophobia … She writes about outsiders of the society.”

In her adulthood, McCullers often wrote characters who struggled with loneliness and encountered challenges with their sexualities. McCullers’ writing, in part, reflected her personal struggles in love and life as a bisexual woman who also suffered debilitating illness on multiple occasions.

However, before McCullers was a writer, she was a musician. McCullers was born Lula Carson Smith in 1917 in Columbus, Georgia. By the time she was 10, McCullers was taking piano lessons from a teacher on base at then-Fort Benning.

Later, after McCullers had moved to New York under the guise of studying music to pursue writing dreams instead by studying writing at Columbia and New York University, she once again found herself tied to the military installation.

During a period of recuperation from an illness which brought McCullers back to Columbus, she met a soldier stationed at Fort Benning, Reeves McCullers, who she would later marry, divorce and reconcile with several times over the course of their decades-long relationship.

Müller and her documentary partner, award-winning Austrian cinematographer Klemens Koscher, filmed in areas where Fort Moore’s historic architecture is still visible. The two agreed it was amazing to be in a place where McCullers once was.

“Her literature … it’s universal, you can understand it everywhere,” said Müller. “But being here and feeling what she might have felt, you know, in this kind of surrounding and the nature, everything … this is very important.”

Filming at Fort Moore in 2023 is much different than what McCullers would have seen in the early- to mid-1900s. Modern cars often drove through the camera’s view and the sound of gunfire from nearby ranges rang out clearly in the morning hours. Nevertheless, Müller and Koscher were not bothered.

Müller likes to mix contemporary footage with archival images in her documentaries. She said she loves the challenge of having a plan, being confronted with realities – newer buildings and cars, amongst others – and remaking the plan.

Plus, she said, “Carson McCullers’ texts are still modern in a way, so I don’t mind if there are modern cars in the picture or modern people walking on the street.”

Though Koscher had never read McCullers’ work before this project, Müller revealed it was Koscher’s careful eye for framing and sensitive cinematography that made him perfect for the project.

“It was a real pleasure because I wanted to work with Claudia for a long time,” said Koscher, who promptly picked up a copy of McCullers’ “The Member of the Wedding” to read on vacation.

The cinematographer now thinks everyone could benefit from reading McCullers’ work. He said, “I sat there for two days on the beach, read it all.”

As of now, Müller estimates her film will be released in fall next year or spring 2025. The project is being funded by ARTE, a European public service channel, and is a collaborative effort with CSU’s Carson McCullers Center.

“There has never been a film about Carson McCullers and as the director of the McCullers Center, I mean, this is an obvious need,” said Nick Norwood.

He continued, “I’m thrilled that, you know, a really quality documentary film is going to be made about this world-famous writer who is from Columbus, Georgia.”