By Erin Crowell
Hollywood comes to Northern Michigan a bit early this summer with
the Traverse City Film Festival still three weeks away, the State
Theater will offer a special red carpet event on Sunday, July 18, with
the premier of Christina, the independent film set in Post World War
Inspired by a true story, the film is about a young German woman who
attempts to escape the war-ravaged city with her G.I. fiancée to start
life anew in America.
Theres only one thing standing in their way: a police detective,
bound and determined to prevent Christina from escaping the
country and her past.
HIGH CALIBER HOLLYWOOD
Christina is presented by Leland-based 8180 Films and is the
production companys first film since owners Rebecca Reynolds and Jim
Carpenter started the company in 2007.
There will be two showings for Christina, 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.; with
the first already sold-out. Each screening will be followed by a Q&A
with director Larry Brand and the cast.
With serious connections in the film industry, 8180 has produced a
small budget film with Hollywood proportions using some of the best
film equipment in the biz, as well as some high caliber acting talent.
The film stars Stephen Lang as the tenacious Inspector Reinhardt. Lang
has starred in several films including The Men Who Stare at Goats
(2009), Public Enemies (2009); and is probably most credited for his
role in James Camerons 2009 blockbuster Avatar as the muscular,
ego-popping Colonel Quaritch.
We needed someone with a monstrous presence. Not a monster, but
someone with a presence that commands attention, explains the films
executive producer and co-owner of 8180 Films Rebecca Reynolds. We
had people coming up to us asking, Where did you get the German
actor? she says of Lang. They were stunned when they found out who
he was. A guy at one of our earlier screenings told me he spent the
entire movie looking for Stephen Lang.
Its an absolute testament to his flexibility in various roles, adds
Larry Brand, writer and director.
Starring in the title role is Nicki Aycox, who appeared in both
sequels of Jeepers Creepers (2003) and Joy Ride (2008), and who
currently stars opposite Dylan McDermott in the TV series Deep Blue.
For Christinas role, we needed someone with a fearless emotional
range, says Reynolds.
In the role of Christinas G.I. boyfriend, Billy Calvert, is actor
Jordan Belfi most commonly known for his regular appearances on the
HBO series Entourage as sleazy talent agent Adam Davies. Belfi also
appeared in the 2009 film Surrogates, starring Bruce Willis.
These are the best three actors Ive ever worked with, says Brand,
who wrote the screenplay for 2009s Halloween: Resurrection
(starring Jamie Lee Curtis). Ive worked with a couple Academy
nominees, some really brilliant actors; but (Lang, Aycox and Belfi)
were the absolute highest quality.
STRENGTH IN THE SCRIPT
Reynolds says the strength of the script is what attracted the acting talent.
Brand, Reynolds and Carpenter chose the story for their first film
after Brand heard about it through a family friend.
The soldier involved in the true story was someone who my friend
knew. He came back with this story of falling in love with this German
girl who wasnt who he thought she was, says Brand.
Christina tells a different perspective of World War II, mainly that
of the individuals whose lives were changed personally.
I wanted to be able to tell a World War II story with all the
emotional ups and downs, all the emotional stress, but without
externalizing it, says Brand. Obviously we dont have explosions,
tank battles or air raids. Thats not what this movie is about. Its
about the personal experience of war through three characters.
Reynolds says that lack of physical action and special effects made
the film cheaper to shoot.
But that doesnt mean it was easy.
We only had 12 days to shoot, she says.
They are extremely intense performances and its a complicated
psychological drama, adds Brand. You have to convey a sense of
reality, so you cant put in a half effort.
Brand and Reynolds have known each other for 30 years, helping one
another on projects, offering an outside perspective on certain
scripts or even the heads up on certain film ideas.
What frequently happens in this business is you tend to work on your
friends projects, whether I directed something, (Reynolds) produced
something and what-not. Theres a lot of cross-pollination, says
Thats how many of the connections were made in the filming of
Christina. Cinematographer/producer Kees Van Oostrum had worked with
Reynolds on the HBO series Ari$$, while costume designer Jacqueline
Saint Anne also worked with Reynolds on a couple HBO projects.
Anne had access to all the necessary costumes for the film.
Its a time period piece, so it was more convenient to shoot it in
Burbank, California where (Anne) had access to a warehouse the size of
Building 50 (in Traverse City), says Reynolds. All the clothing is
organized by time period, color, material.
8180 Films is already in the planning process for their next film,
which will be shot closer to home.
Its a modern piece in a rural setting, so this area is perfect,
Reynolds and Carpenter have been actively involved in local film. They
served as side founders and board members of the By the Bay Film
Series in Suttons Bay for 10 years before making the decision to start
their own film company.
With By the Bay, our goal was to show independent films with complex
characters, says Reynolds, which is what weve done with
RAKING IT IN
While Christina is showing in Northern Michigan for the first time,
the film has already been screened at several film festivals across
the country, taking awards along the way, including Best Film,
Director, Actor, Actress and Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking at
the Buffalo-Niagra and Newport Beach film festivals, as well as
Outstanding Achievement in Writing and Outstanding Achievement in
Acting Male Role (Stephen Lang) at New York Citys VISIONFEST 10.
Tickets for the 9 p.m. showing at the Traverse City State Theater are
still available, at $10 a piece, and include a Q&A with all three cast
members and crew.