In June 2011, legendary movie stuntman and director Hal Needham attended the Little Rock Film Festival. While there, Needham, director of the classic film Smokey and the Bandit, was interviewed on a panel by Tim Basham from Paste Magazine. He started out as a stunt man, and later a stunt coordinator, before he went on to direct. He worked with John Wayne on 8 films.
He wrote about his life and career in the book Stuntman. It tells the story of how a kid from rural Arkansas with an eighth grade education became the highest paid stuntman in the world and went on to direct American classics.
While Needham was in town for the Film Festival, he was gracious and enthusiastic as he visited with fans and filmmakers. As the 2011 Little Rock Film Festival closed out, Hal Needham was presented with the Diamond Award for Career Excellence in Filmmaking at the awards gala at the Clinton Presidential Library.