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UNTHINKABLE 10/04/2013

Posted by landfallprods in Movies On A Mission.
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What’s Unthinkable – the Government shutdown? Yes, but we have something else in mind. Unthinkable is the title of the new independent film coming from Movies On A Mission. We’ve been in pre-production for the past three weeks and have assembled a kick-ass cast of Portland actors, including Randall Paul (“Eyes Wide Shut”), Dennis Fitzpatrick, Michael Biesanz, Drew Barrios, Deone Jennings and a ton more.
The script is based on actual events – a “murder suicide” according to local police, but possibly a professional assassination according to a well respected investigative journalist.
Want to know more? I’m producing and directing the film, but will jump in when time permits. In the meantime, stand by for updates from filmmaker and Unthinkable participant Laurie Gabriel straight from the trenches.

Peace…

Eric

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CASTING COREY BRUNISH 06/15/2012

Posted by landfallprods in Purple Mind.
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Catherine Johnson was nearly as enthusiastic about a role in “Purple Mind” as Will Shepherd.  Once I was sure “Cat” was my choice for the role of MARY, she pitched in like a real trooper, from helping work out menu plans to feed cast and crew for the three weeks we’d be shooting out at the Imperial Stock Ranch thirty miles outside of Maupin, Oregon (pop. 400), to suggesting a number of actors whose work she was familiar with – actors like Corey Brunish, who would eventually sign on to play the pivotal role of Sheriff Dylan.

When Corey first came over to the house, I thought I was sitting down with a young Harrison Ford.  Corey has the same, great, down to earth presence, a friendly smile and stands about 6 foot 4.  Corey spoke about his acting work in the same way as many name actors I’ve met are prone to do – with a genuine sense of modesty, not interested in talking about themselves, but preferring to discuss examples of good work and life experience which elicit clear pictures of their range and understanding.  It was clear to me that Corey had a strong affinity for the role of Sheriff Dylan, a small town lawman who has empathy and understanding for people and their difficulties to a greater degree than he does for following the letter of the law.

It’s important to note that if our story had been written to take place in an urban locale, it is likely that Roy Matthews would have run into a police officer who would shoot first and ask questions later – the kind of police officer who has helped far too many desperate folks commit “suicide by cop.”  But so far, everyone was responding well to the idea of a sheriff named after a folk singing legend more interested in understanding a vet suffering from PTSD than in judging him for no longer “fitting in.”

Corey did well as an Oregon real estate developer.  Well enough to have invested himself in his true love as an actor.  Portland’s Brunish Theatre is named after Corey and he occasionally turns up as a guest star on television shows like TNT’s “Leverage.”  A singer as well as an actor, Corey has performed with The Oregon Symphony and the Portland Opera and is also one of the co-producers of the current musical version of “Bonnie & Clyde” off-Broadway.

Here’s Corey with Stephen White the day he wrapped his role as Sheriff Dylan on “Purple Mind.”

CASTING CATHERINE JOHNSON 06/15/2012

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I would have no claim to being a real Portlander if I hadn’t done a lot of the casting for our film (“Purple Mind”) from local casting agents and personal recommendations.  One of the very first local actress to get her headshot and resume into my hands was Catherine Johnson, who was interested in the supporting role of MARY, Jenna Matthews mother.  “Cat’s” day job has been selling oncology drugs which takes her all across the country, depending on the season and whether or not she’s doing a movie.  A devoted marathoner, Cat doesn’t feel like the day has even started unless she’s run ten miles before coffee.  And, as dedicated to her acting as to her running, she books dozens of local film and video projects every year.

I first met Cat at a downtown Portland coffee house (World Coffee), where I’d workshopped the screenplay with a core group of local writers in a back room they provide for customers in need of a meeting space.  Cat stands barely five feet tall, but has the energy of half a dozen folks of larger dimension.  Attractive with a Susan Sarandon kind of sensuality, Cat’s look and voice combine to command attention – which always works to an actor’s favor.

Each time we met, Cat would wear amazingly hot short skirts showing off a great pair of (runner’s) legs, the whole Catherine Johnson package starting to fit the image I had of Mary, a mother who had raised her daughter to go off and get pregnant straight out of Junior High.  Also, it didn’t hurt that Cat was a pretty good actress with few inhibitions.  Take a look at this clip from our final read through party…

CASTING STEPHEN WHITE 06/14/2012

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Stephen White?  Who is Stephen White?  Never heard of him?  Me neither, except from my friend, Dave K, who went to high school with Steve and continues to be his best friend.  I’d heard David mention Steve over the years, but when I began telling Dave about the film I was planning on shooting (“Purple Mind”), he invariably would mention something about Steve, his friend who’d grown up in a Hollywood family like mine, but unlike me, had decided to shun frivolous Hollywood in favor of a more serious career in “The Theatah.”

There was no getting around the fact that I needed a strong actor to play the part of WEST, the therapist who stages an intervention with Roy Matthews.  According to David, Steve was all the things I was looking for.  The part required someone mature, like Steve.  The part required an actor with a strong presence, like Steve.  And the part required a damn good actor, like Steve.

When I cast Steve, in addition to Dave’s recommendation was an old audition video Steve sent out to Shakespeare companies which really didn’t translate to a contemporary film, so, much like my experience with Will Shepherd, I was shooting in the dark with another casting choice.  Well, sort of.

Did I mention that Steve is a graduate of the Trinity Repertory Theatre Conservatory in Providence, Rhode Island, and The British American Drama Academy in London?  Did I mention that Steve had worked as an actor, director and/or fight choreographer with Washington D.C.’s Arena Stage, The National Shakespeare Company, The Camden Shakespeare Company, Seattle’s Group Theatre and many others?  Oh, yes – about the Hollywood family?  His dad was the cinematographer on several of the films of Cecil B. DeMille, and his three uncles practically invented Hollywood; one produced “The Three Stooges” films, another produced and directed a number of Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire movies, and the third owned his own silent film studio.  Steve’s family was a freakin’ Hollywood legend.

And there was Steve, living way out in the wilds of Fairfield, Iowa, home of the Maharishi University, working as the Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Ensemble at the Stephen Sondheim Center.  Holy shit!  Would Steve even consider a part in a little, no-budget film like mine?

“Hell yes,” Steve said, after I sent him the script.  After all, Steve had been coming out to L.A. for a month several winters in a row to study with the very well regarded acting coach, Tom Toderoff, and after forty years of doing Shakespeare all over the globe, Steve was finally interested in returning to his roots and getting in front of a camera.

And so, for better or worse, I had my West.

Stephen White reading at his Shakespeare Ensemble in Fairfield, Iowa

CASTING BRIGHID FLEMING 06/14/2012

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I found my entire principal cast of three wonderful actors at Backstage West.  Brighid Fleming was the third.  At the time (2009), Brighid, who, because most people can’t pronounce her name properly (Brie-id), goes by the nickname “Fish,” had just turned ten with the role of DELIA, Gerard Butler’s daughter in “GAMER” recently completed.  Imagine yourself as a ten year old surrounded by all these heavy hitters…

Since she first saw actors on a stage at the age of five or so, Brighid has known what she wants to do with her life.  After the untimely death of her father, Brighid’s mother, Carol, decided to dedicate all her resources to supporting Brighid’s dream and the two moved from New Mexico to Los Angeles, where Brighid began appearing on stage and gradually began booking roles in film and TV.

To date (June 2012) Brighid has appeared in sixteen movies/videos and eight television series, including “The Mentalist,” “Awake,” “CSI: Miami,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” and “Saving Grace.”  She has the highest IMDB star meter reading of any of the “Purple Mind” cast and was more fun on set than a busload of Cirque du Soleil clowns.

The character Brighid plays is Crystal Matthews, a little girl attempting to understand  a father who has been away at war and who returns as a complete stranger at odds with the world around him and suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which has turned him into some kind of a monster.   I absolutely must compliment Brighid on was her work ethic as an actress.  Every day she was on set, she came in prepared, knew her lines, and when the camera rolled, she was in  character, requiring minimal direction for such an emotionally demanding role.  Brighid was an absolute joy to work with, and I am convinced that one day she will be a star.

CASTING EMILY BRIDGES 06/11/2012

Posted by landfallprods in Purple Mind.
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The common wisdom is that if you want to make a successful film, you need to cast actors with recognizable names…  Hoffman, DiNiro, Streep, Sarandon, Bridges.  Bridges?  Why is that familiar?

As I was still working on the screenplay for “Purple Mind,” I was also thinking about casting.  We’d had an offer of $10 million in financing and I’d put together a package which included several BIG names to justify that kind of a budget, but as it turned out, the offer was from a film finance scammer who was running a very clever and dangerous con.

So, when the fantasy of big bucks and big names had turned into smoke and mirrors, I realized we were either not going to make “Purple Mind,” or it was going to be a low budget production, as in next to nothing budget…  and that I was going to have to do what I’d sworn I would never do again, namely everything.

On our earlier film, “Director’s Cut: Metalface,” I’d had very good luck casting excellent LA actors from a service called Backstage West.  Actors from all over the country religiously check for cool projects casting via Backstage West.

The Backstage West website allows users to browse through actors headshots and resumes organized by gender and age, SAG, AFTRA or non-union and whether they’re willing to work on “no budget” projects like mine.  So, as I started through a section of ingenues, I came across a familiar name.  What?  I had barely gotten through the B’s and there it was, staring me straight in the face.  BRIDGES.  But could it be THAT Bridges?

Jeff Bridges had just been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his role in “Crazy Heart.”  But no, as it turned out, Emily wasn’t one of Jeff’s daughters – she was Jeff’s brother Beau’s daughter, fresh out of Fordham University, the London Academy and the Moscow Art Theatre School.  EUREKA!  Even better, remember the part where actors indicate whether they’re willing to work on “no-budget” productions?  Well, the box marked “Will work for free” had a check mark next to it.  What unbelievable good luck!

Emily Bridges during shooting of “Purple Mind.”

So, how difficult could it be to attach Emily Bridges to our film?  Well, she had provided her contact information and it was a direct email link straight to – not an agent or manager – but direct to Emily herself.  So, I wrote, telling Emily about “Purple Mind” and the role I thought she would be great for.  And a few days later, wonder of wonders, she wrote back and asked to see a script.

More Tomorrow…