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by Bryce J. Renninger
August 26, 2010 3:27 AM
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In the Works: Mid-80s Indie Music Rocks "Losers"

A scene from Andrew Garrison's "Trash Dance." [Image courtesy of filmmaker]

In this week's production column, "Losers Take All" sees director Alex Steyermark revisit his musical roots with a tale that chronicles the rise of a band in the 1980s American indie rock scene. The documentary "From Baghdad to Brooklyn," meanwhile follows a gay Iraqi refugee in the Middle East who is brought to America by an American journalist to live the 'American Dream.' Also in the works this week, a bleak futuristic tale, garbage truck dancers, and the story of a disease stricken man intent on building his own helicopter.

EDITORS NOTE: “In the Works” is a weekly column taking a look at upcoming films, in addition to projects in production. It spotlights films in development, as well as completed films that are taking creative paths towards distribution and occasionally ventures away from films to look at other types of projects, such as interesting new film distribution, funding, or exhibition mechanisms.

"Losers Take All"
Director: Alex Steyermark
Principal Cast: Kyle Gallner, Allison Scagliotti, Tania Raymonde, Alexia Rasmussen, Aaron Himelstein, Billy Kay and Adam Herschman
Screenplay: Andrew Pope and Winn Coslick
Producers: Mike S. Ryan, Andrew Pope and Winn Coslick
Executive Producers: Andrew Meyer and Roger Rawlings

Director Alex Steyermark returns to his musical roots with his follow up to "One Last Thing," "Losers Take All," a film that chronicles the rise of a fictional band in the mid 1980s American indie rock scene.

Steyermark has been working behind the scenes as a music supervisor, editor and producer since 1998 on projects as varied as "The Boxer," "The Ice Storm" and "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." His feature film debut "Prey for Rock & Roll," had a musical kick to it, similar to "Losers Take All."

"I've always been attracted to that intersection of music and film," Steyermark told indieWIRE from Memphis where he's in week two of the month long shoot. ""Prey" was great way into directing. I wasn't sure I wanted to do another rock and roll movie. But the truth is I probably have a few more in me."

A cast that includes Kyle Gallner ("A Nightmare on Elm Street"), Billy Kay ("Yelling to the Sky"), Aaron Himelstein ("Joan of Arcadia") and newcomer Peter Brensinger round out the punk/pop band The Fingers, that the film profiles. Billed as a 'raucous love letter to an era when for most bands, life meant touring around the country in a cramped van, sleeping on the floors of strangers, and selling your records after each show,' the film features original music penned by Marshall Crenshaw (who co-wrote the Golden Globe and Grammy nominated title track to "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story") and Memphis bred Scott Bomar.

Steyermark said he lucked out by casting actors who already had experience playing an instrument. "I met with them [the actors] individually to get a sense of their personalities and how they would gel," Steyermark said. "I trust my instincts."

To gear them up for production Steyermark had his cast rehearse two weeks prior to shooting, with scene rehearsal in the morning and band practice in the afternoon. "Luckily they gelled as a band right away," Steyermark said. "People around town come up and ask what band they're in."

So far, Steyermark said production has been going smoothly with no hiccups to speak of. "We have an ambitious schedule, with a lot of script pages and musical performances," Steyermark said. "We're using some live vocals, which add a whole layer of complexity. But I'm comfortable with it. I'm working with such a great team. We've just been having fun."

Production is slated to wrap up on September 11.


More projects:

"Trash Dance"

Logline: The usually invisible workforce of garbage collectors becomes the main attraction when an Austin, TX choreographer rides garbage trucks for a year and collaborates to create an award-winning performance--16 trucks and 24 people on an abandoned airstrip in the rain.

Production Team: Director/Camera/Editor: Andrew Garrison; Additional Editing: Marcel Rodriguez

About the film: "I am always interested seeing what usually goes unseen and learning about the ways people figure out to express their creativity. Everybody does it somehow--making stuff--creating--is a fundamental, existential act. I had read about the choreographer, Allison Orr, and then went to see one of her dances where she choreographed skaters. She had previously worked with blind people, dog-walkers, Elvis impersonators, fire fighters and maintenance men. Having just released a film seven years in the making, that involved shooting a lot of buildings, I was excited at the idea of shooting movement. Orr told me she wanted to start a project with the Austin City garbage collectors. So that was perfect--I would get to meet and relate stories of people who are usually ignored, doing work we take for granted at best or, at worse--consider too dirty, and I would get to see private lives and this collaborative act of creation. It just sounded great." -- Andrew Garrison

Current Status: "I'm at the start of editing. Which means also raising finishing funds. I'm thrilled to be in Kickstarter and going to the WestDoc conference in mid September where "Trash Dance" was selected to be on of the films in their "Pitch Fest" event. I want to finish in March, hope to premiere in SXSW where we'd have a premiere that includes trash trucks delivering our stars to the theater!" -- Andrew Garrison

For more information and to support the film: Visit the film's Kickstarter page. As with all Kickstarter projects, the filmmakers will only receive donated funds if they reach their target goal of $10,000 by the end of the campaign on Sept 27th.


"From Baghdad to Brooklyn"

An image from Jennifer Utz's "From Baghdad to Brooklyn." [Image courtesy of filmmakers.]


Logline: An American journalist meets a gay Iraqi refugee in the Middle East and helps bring him to the United States to discover whether he truly can live the 'American Dream.'"

Production team: Director: Jennifer Utz; Producers: Jennifer Utz, Tami Woronoff, Felix Cabrera; Editor: David Rowley

About the film: "I initially met Mohamed, the main character in my film, while on assignment in the Middle East covering the Iraqi refugee crisis. With nearly four million people displaced at the time, it was the largest refugee and displaced persons community in the world. Gay men and women were, and still are, particularly at risk with persecution and death a constant threat. Mohamed was a 24 year-old former model living in Syria who was as eccentric as he was captivating, and I was immediately drawn to him.

As I continued to film Mohamed, and became more personally involved with him, what started out as a reportage about the living conditions of exiled Iraqis slowly grew into a story of the complicated relationship between myself as a filmmaker and my subject. I was drawn into the whimsical world Mohamed created to escape from the cold reality of his everyday hardships. I also felt that I couldn't sit back and watch his life deteriorate and as I become deeply entrenched in his pursuit of asylum I ended up surrendering the role of passive observer and became his friend, confidante and even roommate. This wasn't always easy and at times, we almost felt like we were each other's own best enemy. I endeavor to show this aspect of our relationship in the film.

I filmed Mohamed and his family but I also gave him a camera to keep and record video diaries when I wasn't with him. We really get a first-hand perspective of how he viewed the world, himself, and our relationship. In addition, the film will see events unfold from my own perspective. The implications of getting involved with Mohamed and his case were far greater than I had ever predicted and they took a toll on my own personal life. These will be explored as the film delves into perceptions, preconceptions and ideals that many viewers may have (and that I certainly did) of the Iraqi people, but that get challenged on many occasions throughout." -- Jennifer Utz

Current status: The team has about a month more to shoot before wrapping up production. They hope to begin post-production in the fall and have a complete film by early 2011.

For more information and to support the film: Visit the film's Kickstarter page. As with all Kickstarter projects, the filmmakers will only receive donated funds if they reach their target goal of $6,000 by the end of the campaign on Sept 30th.


"Rise"

An image from Tyler Bastian and Trevor Hill's "Rise." [Image provided by the filmmakers.]


Logline: “Rise” is the story of a man and his dream to build a helicopter. Stricken with Polio, Agustin is determined to choose his challenges in life and to rise above all of his circumstances.

Production team: Directors: Tyler Bastian and Trevor Hill; Producer: Isaac Strack; Cinematographer: Cameron Trejo; Editor: Brian Walker; Music: Kirby Heyborne and Tyler Hill

About the film: "Beginning in 2007, Producer-Directors Trevor Hill and I embarked on a journey to make a film that tells a story of a man I met in Honduras a decade ago. Handicapped from polio, Agustin has spent 50 years building a surprisingly advanced helicopter out of rebar and wood. He began building the helicopter in order to control his life. Rather than poverty or his disability, Agustin wanted the building of the helicopter to be the defining challenge of his life. His story is uplifting and enlightening and lets all who encounter it sit back and reflect on where they are and how they can rise above their own personal challenges. Filmed in the beautiful country of Honduras, “Rise” also examines how life is lived in a third world country. Viewers are taken on a journey through the emotions of the people and places that exist in and around the town where Agustin was born and raised. We want the film to be a cultural experience. We want all who view it to not only get to know Agustin but to know and feel what he feels living where and how he does." -- Tyler Bastian

Current status: “Rise” is in post-production and the filmmakers have another trip planned to finish up some final filming.

For more information and to support the film: Visit the film's Kickstarter page. As with all Kickstarter projects, the filmmakers will only receive donated funds if they reach their target goal of $8,000 by the end of the campaign on Sept 11th.


"Rogue Moon"

A pre-production image from Eoghan Kidney's "Rogue Moon."


Logline: The story of a world on the brink and where death has many dimensions. A science fiction thriller adapted from the 1960 book of the same name by Algis Budrys.

Production team: Writer/Director: Eoghan Kidney; Producer: Nicola Gogan

About the film: "We are raising development funding for the science fiction feature film 'Rogue Moon,' based on the acclaimed 1960 novel of the same name. We want to create a low budget high concept sci fi film, inspired by classics such as 'Metropolis,' '2001' and 'Blade Runner,' using the expressive filmmaking methods seen in films such as 'Sin City' and '300.'" -- Eoghan Kidney

Film synopsis: 2053. The oil has run out. A decaying world is on the brink of total energy war - but there is a glimmer of hope. Obsessive military scientist Dr. Edward Hawks believes a rare fuel found only on the surface of the moon can avert the crisis. Since traditionally fueled rockets are no longer viable, the only hope of reaching the fuel is his unfinished Quantum Displacer - a prototype human teleporter. As each volunteer is transported to the moon he remains trapped in an inter-dimensional Rift- a place where death has many dimensions. As time runs out Hawks is locked in a battle of wills with his final candidate, war hero and legendary test pilot Al Barker - unpredictable, violent and harboring an unsettling but necessary lust for death.

Current status: The team is currently in pre-production looking for investors.

For more information and to support the film: Visit the film’s Kickstarter page. As with all Kickstarter projects, the filmmakers will only receive donated funds if they reach their target goal of $15,000 by the end of the campaign on September 30th.


Also in the works:

Anne Thompson reported that Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks are in the early stages of potentially teaming up with director Stephen Daldry for an adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer's 2005 "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: A Novel." Paramount and Warner Bros. are set to partner on the film, which boasts a script by Oscar-winner Eric Roth ("Forrest Gump").

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