Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Young Independent Filmmakers Making Magic Happen in CLE

There is a powerful underlying culture of young, talented, innovative and professional filmmakers and actors creating awesome projects in CLE right now. Our arts and culture scene is thriving. Although we have a collective network of arts organizations which fosters artists' growth (i.e. Cleveland Public Theatre, MOCA, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, etc.) some of the arts have yet to establish a platform to nurture, network and help navigate the path for emerging artists/creators. Enter young independent filmmakers in CLE! They have yet to experience a network to take them in, help develop their craft, provide resources, and establish a platform to showcase these fantastic films to our comminity. Have you heard about "The Avengers" filming in CLE? I bet! How about the tax credits for big budget films to come to our city and shoot movies? Yep, probably familiar with that too! And don't get me wrong, I think it's great to offer a temporary economic boost to our region and gain notoriety by having big budget films takeover the city...but what about the spectacular artists/innovators/filmmakers making magic come to life here, everyday, on a shoe-string budget with a high caliber message, quality, vision and film that can attest to the born and bred generation of Clevelanders who are making it happen?

The wonderfully talented production team Studio on Mars
bringing you the upcoming film, THE SAMARITANS
Zach Shildwatchter, Executive Producer. Jen Poland, Director of Photography. J. Buckner, Director.

Well a wonderful opportunity recently came to fruition and I was so happy to be a part of it and share the story with you, my CLE Believers! My good buddy Justin aka J. Buckner invited me to come for a day of filming on set for a short film called THE SAMARITANS.
J. Buckner: ACTION!

This, my friends, is the type of project that puts fire in my belly. The young people who defy the odds, who commit to their dreams, who pound the pavement to build a sustainable support network of filmmakers/artists in CLE, who resist Ohio "brain drain" and commit to our region's success,  and  who truly make our city's culture and arts so dynamic.

I knew it was going to be a spectacular experience for a laundry list of reasons, but considering I have already seen his last short film, "I AM ALIVE," which was just screened as the feature film in Rock Island, Illinois last week, and as part of the Monster Mashup in Chicago a few weeks ago-- I knew the quality of film that I would witness in the making.

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Seriously, this guy and his team are too legit to quit. The short film has already gained notoriety and a post-apocalyptic following of zombie I knew a wild CLE adventure was ahead as he invited me to hang out on set for a day of filming his new film "THE SAMARITANS."

The story of "THE SAMARITANS" was written by William B Keller (Bill) of Columbus, OH. Bill originally wrote the the short film to focus on the idea of peoples' reactions during moral dilemmas by turning seemingly innocent decisions into life-impacting events. Bill has been writing for over 30 years with a long list of credentials. But 3 1/2 years ago he lost his life long partner, Jill. He said he really struggled with just giving up and had all these thoughts in his head that he just needed to get out. He knew he had to pull something positive out of the tragedy of losing his high-school sweetheart, so he based the couple in the film on him and his wife, and used that as a foundation to build the story. (BTW Bill is the SWEETEST man ever and incredibly inspiring!) He wanted to make people stop, and think about how each action has a reaction.
"THE SAMARITANS" writer, left Bill Keller pictured with his son Will
The story centers around a young couple who skip out on work to go enjoy a beautiful day at the park, when they are unexpectedly faced with an unusual situation as a man, claiming to be a priest, emerges from the woods, panic-stricken and collapses onto the couple's car begging for help...

I'm pretty sure I'd be a liiiiittle bit alarmed if I was in the car right now too..

Pictured, Eric Small as Priest, Kellen Boyle as Tom, and Samantha O'Brien as Sarah
I have to give a huge round of applause to Eric Small who played a lead role as the priest. He delivered some serious drama and emotion--take after take...meanwhile in 40 degree temperatures.. and half-clothed. He was a tremendously talented actor and demonstrated some serious commitment to his craft! More people like him on the move in CLE!

Orderlies taking action...
Pictured Mike Chastain
I then met some similarly awesome people, Mike Chastain of Akron and Pakob Jarenpone of Akron, who played the role of the orderlies. Both gentlemen served as extras during the recent filming of "The Avengers" in Cleveland and haven't looked back since. They agreed that there is the sudden churning of independent filmmakers cranking out steller productions in our city and hope to see more and be more of a part of it.
Pictured Mike Chastain, left and Pakob Jarenpone, right
majorly B.A. & would NOT want to mess with these guys!
When I asked J. Buckner his opinion on why Cleveland is a great place to make and film movies he responded, "There is not as much red tape here compared to places like NYC or LA. People in Cleveland think it's cool when they see someone out filming, rather than as an inconvenience or passé, like a film shooting on the streets of NYC. We have four beautiful seasons here and every shot you may need can be accessed in just an hour drive--rural farms, big city skyline, well-known restaurants, manicured parks, Lake Erie beaches. It's all at our fingertips."

The biggest point each cast and crew member kept circling back to was the incredible potential for rising filmmakers and talented actors in Cleveland. As Zach Shildwachter, Executive Producer of "THE SAMARITANS" framed it, "Cleveland is a wide open market. Ripe. A lot of people are demanding high quality local films, but there is limited supply. Our biggest obstacle as filmmakers is cultivating a tangible network. We need a sustainable base to grow from. We don't want to be some circus act that just rolls into town." I couldn't agree more. As glossy and glamorous big budget films in Cleveland are, if we really want that industry to thrive, let's start building it--by the people and for the people of CLE!
business concepts,businesses,concepts,connected,connections,hierarchies,icons,links,organizational,organizational charts,organizations,people,symbols
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So, CLE, are you ready? Are you jazzed? Well, may I present to you the long awaited, totally rad trailer for the making of this film I got to watch come to life. Click here for a link to the trailer of "THE SAMARITANS" or click the trailer below and be sure to like them on Facebook to stay tuned for the release of the final product! Young. Independent. Talented Filmmakers...making the magic happen in CLE! Enjoy :)

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