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Five Projects iW is Rooting For: Justin Long & Weixler in "Lumpy," "Matthew Shepard" and More

Photo of Bryce J. Renninger By Bryce J. Renninger | Indiewire May 12, 2011 at 2:38AM

This week's in-production column has the usual slate of five we're rooting for, and we also have an announcement of an exciting partnership with what's become one of the most important institutions in indie film.
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Five Projects iW is Rooting For: Justin Long & Weixler in "Lumpy," "Matthew Shepard" and More
A photo of Justin Long, Tyler Labine, and Ted Koland on the set of "Lumpy." [Photo credit: James Ramsay]

This week's in-production column has the usual slate of five we're rooting for, and we also have an announcement of an exciting partnership with what's become one of the most important institutions in indie film.

First, the films: Ted Koland chatted with indieWIRE about his new feature, his dark comedic directorial debut "Lumpy," which tells the story of a man of the same name who dies while serving as the best man of his friends' wedding. From Kickstarter, we have projects that look at the life of Matthew Shepard from one of his closest friends, the story of a girl who thinks she's survived the apocalypse, a film that dares to tell the troubles of a relationship in one continuous shot and the story of an adventurer coming to terms with his blindness after finding his way to Indonesia.

And now for the partnership: indieWIRE is happy to announce that we're curating a Kickstarter page, where we'll be keeping track of the latest projects from the filmmakers that we've been following in our nearly 15 years -- and spotlighting new projects that we're keen on seeing make it to the big screen.

"Lumpy"

Ted Koland makes the process of getting "Lumpy" into production -- his first feature, starring Justin Long ("Drag Me to Hell," "Live Free or Die Hard") and Jess Weixler ("Teeth") -- sound easy.

"I had heard a story about a guest of a wedding who died at the wedding and I began to think about how there must be more to his life than his death at that wedding," Koland says. "But that's all I'll ever know about him."

"Lumpy" tells the story of the untimely death of Lumpy (Tyler Labine), the best man at Scott (Long) and Kristin (Weixler)'s destination wedding in Arizona. When they return to Minneapolis to arrange for his funeral, Scott and Kristin discover that the life of the party they knew isn't exactly who they thought he was.

From finishing the script ("The quickest and the best I've ever written," says Koland) to production, it was only two and a half years. "We got lucky. It had not been the easiest climate in Hollywood trying to get a film made by a first-time director. The studios were closing their indie divisions. It was pretty impossible."

It was a chance meeting with the man who would become the producer of "Lumpy," David Abbitt (of Coll-Abbitt Productions), that pushed the project into production on location in Minnesota.

"I sold Minnesota so I could shoot Minnesota for Minnesota," said the native Minnesotan. "I also knew all the resources that it would offer us -- the wonderful acting community: The Guthrie theater, The Jungle Theater. I've been seeing the actors I worked with on the stage from the time I was 15 years old."

The move from writing, producing, and performing (Koland studied with the Groundlings) has been a smooth one for Koland. "As much as you might have your own anxieties and fears, when someone hands you your director's chair and megaphone, it's a fairly easy transition."

As for choosing the right project for his first foray into directing, Koland told iW, "It's special to me and nice that it's not autobiographical. Everyone has a friend like Lumpy. It's a story that people will really relate to, enjoy and hopefully be moved by."


More projects

"Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine"

A publicity image for "Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine." [Image courtesy of filmmaker]


Logline: Through the honest and intimate recollections of his friends, family, and those who were personally affected by his death, “Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine” tells the story of the Matthew behind the headlines.

Production team: Director/Editor: Michele Josue; Producers: Liam McNiff, Chad Mann; Cinematographer: Craig Trudeau

About the film: "This film is a very personal project. Matt was one of my closest friends in high school. He was a few grades above me, but we acted in many school plays together and bonded over our love of theater. He was an amazing friend; so funny, smart, compassionate, and extremely generous.

"Losing Matt in such a brutal and horrific way and then having it all played out in the media was hard to deal with. But I've always known that when I was ready, both emotionally and artistically, I would tell Matt's story. As a documentary filmmaker and as his friend, I've always felt a huge amount of pressure to do justice to Matt and his legacy. Throughout the years, there have been some misconceptions and controversy surrounding Matt and his death. He's also been portrayed as an almost martyr-like symbol. I don't think either approach is fair to Matt."

Current status: The filmmakers are currently in production.

For more information and to support the film: Kickstarter page. As with all Kickstarter projects, the film project will only receive donated funds if they reach their target goal of $50,000 by the end of the campaign (May 29).


"Forever's End"

An image from JC Schroder's "Forever's End." [Image courtesy of filmmaker]


Logline: Six years after a post-apocalyptic event killed her family and seemingly everyone else on earth, a lone girl on the verge of insanity is forced to confront her demons and question everything she knows when a strange man suddenly appears at her door, claiming everything she believes is a lie.

Production team: Writer/Director: JC Schroder; Producer: Michael Katchman; Composer: Douglas Romayne

About the film: "'Forever's End' is a complex Psychological, Horror-Thriller, set in a post-apocalyptic world. What I love so much about this story is that above and beyond all the apocalyptic/horror elements it's that this is really a very complex story about people struggling to go on with their lives, and a girl trying to find meaning, to stay sane, find hope in life when everything, the whole world has crumbled around her. With all my films, the goal has always been to retain a level of cinematic "realism" that is so vivid that above and beyond just entertaining the audience, we create real characters, real people facing very real horrors, and thus, very frightening realities. Building real, intelligent, complex characters that an audience can relate to, and retaining that mental 'tension' of the unknown throughout the film is what I feel separates a good thriller, or horror film from a mediocre one. 'Forever's End' is a film for people who like complex drama, melded with tense, mind-boggling, heart-pounding mysteries, this isn't your traditional horror movie." -- JC Schroder

Current status: The film is currently in pre-production.

For more information and to support the film: Kickstarter page. As with all Kickstarter projects, the film project will only receive donated funds if they reach their target goal of $40,000 by the end of the campaign (May 20).

"Homer and Penelope"

Publicity art for "Homer and Penlelope [Image courtesy of filmmaker]


Logline: "Homer and Penelope" is a feature about two wandering souls fighting the past while trying to figure out the future. It follows this man and woman as their surreal first encounter becomes a discovery of what it means to be a kid, to grow up, to lose, to be lost, to regret, to hope, and possibly even to love, all in one continuous shot.

Production team: Writer/Director/Producer: Danny Powell

About the film: "A few years ago I had the idea of shooting a film in one take, in one continuous shot. It was just a seed of an idea that came about while trying to obtain funding for another feature. I merely thought it would be a unique and thrilling way to make a film. The other feature never got off the ground, and I revisited this one shot idea solely based on the desire to finally make a feature despite having no money to do so. I've always loved Jean Cocteau's statement that 'Film will only become an art when its materials are as inexpensive as pencil and paper.' Shooting a film in one day would allow us to get as close to this as we possibly could. And so I began to write." -- Danny Powell

Current status: The film is currently in the pre-production/casting process.

For more information and to support the film: Kickstarter page. As with all Kickstarter projects, the film project will only receive donated funds if they reach their target goal of $6,000 by the end of the campaign (May 31).


"White Elephant"

A still from the promotional video for "White Elephant."


Logline: “White Elephant” is a feature that takes place against the backdrop of Indonesia. An adventurer tries to stay one step ahead of his impending blindness and comes to embrace the fullness of his life when he encounters a woman and child from another culture who have borne their own losses with dignity and grace.

Production Team: Writer/Director: Jessika Pikes; Producer: Setu Raval; Director of Photography: Sing Howe Yam; Production Designer: Stefan Rambousek; Editor: Sal Caino; Sound Designer: Zach Seivers; Composer: Kim Planert

About the film: "As a filmmaker, exploring blindness delves into my own greatest fear. I attempt to peel away at the main character’s deteriorating psyche and project a fading world through his eyes. I want the viewers to lose their sight with our main character in the most organic way. To relay the loss of imagery and give it the greatest impact, I chose to set the world of 'White Elephant' amidst a canvas so exquisite, it’s almost illusory." -- Jessika Pikes

Current status: Members of the team have just returned to Bali and Lombok to shoot promotional footage for the film and do more research on shooting on location.

For more information and to support the film: Kickstarter page. As with all Kickstarter projects, the film project will only receive donated funds if they reach their target goal of $7,500 by the end of the campaign (June 8).

This article is related to: Features, Filmmaker Toolkit, In The Works







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