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September 7, 2005 7:26 AM
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Production Report: "Angst", "The Big Bad Swim", "Find Love", "Full Grown Men", "Warriors"

Matt McGrath and Judah Friedlander in David Monro's "Full Grown Men." Image provided by the filmmakers.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: indieWIRE's monthly production report looks at
independent films in various stages of production. If you'd like to
tell us about a film in production for future columns, please contact us.]

"Angst"

Aspiring to be a Broadway actor, Lake (Michael Muhney), is tired of his baby-face looks keeping him from the roles he wants, so with the help of his prosthetic-savvy friend he transforms into a senior citizen to get a part in a Broadway-bound play. But when the
producers want him to go to an old age home to do research on his
character, Lake learns the elderly aren't as simple minded as he thought.

Director Robin Christian initially got the idea of making the film after watching classics like "Mrs. Doubtfire," "Tootsie" and "Big," but when interviewing people in nursing homes before writing the script with Muhney (TV's "Veronica Mars"), he realized there would be more to his film than the typical fish-out-of-water high jinks. "It's amazing how much like kids they are," says Christian about the people he met in nursing homes. "They're frustrated because they want to still do the things they used to do but other than that they're no different from you or I, just a lot more wiser. So [the film] is touching at different times, they really open Lake's eyes."

Shot over four weeks last June in Champaign, Illinois, Christian says one of the things that needed close attention was Muhney's heavy makeup and latex suit in the hot weather. "We spent thousand and thousands of dollars to make it look realistic so four hours of putting on and taking off really tested Michael's patients." But Christian says his lead actor toughed it out and was so convincing he fooled everyone in the nursing home when he walked in the first time.

Budgeted at under $200,000, the film's currently in postproduction. Shot on HD by John Luker, the film's financed through Christian's Dreamscape Cinema. The film also stars Pat Morita ("The Karate Kid"), Eddie Jones ("The Terminal") and Amber Benson (TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer").

[For more information, please visit the film's website.]

"The Big Bad Swim"

Set in scenic South Lyme, Connecticut, "The Big Bad Swim" follows twelve novice swimmers ranging from ages 17-75 who've taken time out of their complicated lives to take a swim class. The film focuses on three people in the class. Noah (Jeff Branson), the swim class teacher who's battling depression; Jordan (Jess Weixler), an exotic dancer/casino dealer who has little desire to trust men due to her jobs; and Amy (Paget Brewster), a high school teacher who is going through a divorce with another teacher at the school.

The film is the debut feature of Ishai Setton, he co-wrote the script with friend Daniel Schechter, and admits one of the biggest challenges the two had with the story was its size. "I realize now why a lot of independent films have two or three characters, it was difficult to highlight all the characters," Setton says. "It was also very important to keep this class element going, I think a lot of people can relate to that, you have these three main characters that we're following but we're also pretty focused on the class and how they fit into it." Another concern was the cast's ability -- or lack of -- to swim. "We wrote this character, a police officer, who's afraid of the water and it turned out the actor (Kevin Porter Young) was petrified of the water and hadn't been near a pool, ocean or anything since he was eight years old. His girlfriend pushed him to go into the water, but that performance is very real."

The 19-day shoot wrapped last June and was shot on 16 mm by Josh Silfen and edited by Ian Wile. It's produced by Setton and Chandra Simon.

[For more information, please visit the film's website.]

"Find Love"

Wanting to capture the feeling of when two people fall in love, Erica Dunton knew the atmosphere needed to be more free spirited than your typical set where talks of tweaking dialogue and setting up shots prevail. That's why for her second feature, "Find Love," she decided to let her actors improvise and have the camera follow their lead. "I don't think you can make every film like this," Dunton says, "I just wanted it to be very much from the heart."

Set in a 24-hour period, two people, both already in relationships, meet during a delay at an airport. Through the hours of waiting they talk and realize they're both fond of one another, but what happens once they leave the airport?

Shot on location at the Wilmington International Airport in Wilmington, North Carolina, the 10-day shoot budgeted at $500,000 consisted of Dunton having breakfast with her actors, Christian Camargo and Alexie Gilmore, separately to go over what the scenes entailed for that day and then shooting 3-5 minute takes where the actors riffed most of their lines. "I wrote the dialogue that led in and out of the conversation but the actual conversation we work shopped individually so they never really worked together at all," she says.

Rehearsals took place for 3 months leading up to principal photography. During that time Dunton would fill Camargo and Gilmore in on their character from the notes, character questionnaires and diary entries she had written. "I just wanted to keep it fresh and fun," he says. "You see them having such fun and you just want to be them, they're both beautiful but they're both assessable so you just want what they have."

Currently being edited by Olivier Bugge Coutte in Denmark, the film was shot on DV by Alan Newcomb and is produced by Dunton and LasalleHolland Film's Gill Holland and Matt Parker. The executive producer is Lillian LaSalle.

"Full Grown Men"

Alby (Matt McGrath) has a problem. He can't seem to let go of the past, specifically idealizing his childhood. And when his wife catches him refusing to share his action figures with their son, it's time for Alby to have a time out from the family. Now out on his own, he hopes to catch up with his old friend, Elias (Judah Friedlander), and head to the amusement park, Diggityland. In their journey they run into others who've tragically ruined their lives due to childhood dreams but can Elias open Alby's eyes to this fact before ruining his life even more?

This is the handiwork of David Munro who's best known for his "dramady" shorts like "Bullethead," "First Love, Second Planet" and "Complicated Breathing." Co-written with his wife, Xandra Castleton, the film is produced through their San Francisco-based company, Grottofilms. "[The script] was probably the one I had the most emotional attachment to," says Munro who based a lot of the characters on people he grew up with. "It's very entertaining, very colorful and we felt we could do it on a fairly modest budget." And for a director making his first feature Munro knew he'd have to fight for everything he needed. "Those are the four words that haunt you, first time feature director," he says. "For someone who's made a lot of shorts and commercials it's hard to hear that first time thing because you've been there before but now having done it you understand it is such a different scale."

Shot in Hollywood, Florida and the neighboring areas last July, the film is budgeted at over $1 million last July. Shot on 35mm by Frank DeMarco ("Hedwig and the Angry Inch"), it's produced by Castleton and Brian Benson, and executive produced by Paul Zaentz and Sheila Ennis. Cast also includes Alan Cumming (also co-producer with David Ilku), Deborah Harry and Amy Sedaris ("Strangers with Candy").

[For more information, please visit the film's website.]

"Warriors"

Since finishing his acclaimed debut documentary "Dark Days," Marc Singer has stayed as far away from the film world as possible. Spending the last few years in Florida diving with a group of underwater explorers, Singer returned to New York last year reinvigorated and itching to make another film. Toying with the idea of a feature narrative, he suddenly woke up one evening with the perfect idea for a documentary, the Marines Corps. He's been interested in the Marines his whole life, in fact at 17 Singer tired to join the Marines, but because he didn't have a green card at the time (Singer was born in London) was unable to. But Singer's main interest was to make a film "about a group of guys who are the best at what they do and are the first in the door when something goes wrong."

It took seven months for Singer to convince the Marines Corps to give him full access to one squad and film them from basic training to active service. "I don't want to call it a real life ‘Full Metal Jacket,'" he says, "it's not really about the military and it has nothing to do with the war, it's basically about a group of guys and how they feel about each other and going through this whole experience together."

Currently with the 1st Battalion/ 8th Marines at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, Singer's been given unprecedented access to the inner workings of the Marine Corps and is heavily involved with his group, including doing all the drills with them. "I fucking love it," he says while taking a break at the base. "The guys are so cool and they really have completely taken me in. This film is going to be unlike anything anyone has ever seen about the military."

Shooting on HD, Singer plans to be with the battalion for at least two years and along with capturing what it takes to go into combat he also plans to follow how the soldiers adjust to regular life once their tour is finished.

[For more information, please visit the film's website.]

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