Monday, July 03, 2006

Asheville: The Movie

I was honored to be invited to watch about 40 minutes of rough cuts of Asheville: The Movie last week--while hanging with visionary director, writer, and all-around quirky dude, Chusy Jardine of Found Films. Never a dull moment here in Edgy world.

I saw snippets of extremely rough film footage several months ago, and I wholeheartedly fell in love with the stories in the film. I'm rarely impressed with movies--as a writer, I know too much about foreshadowing and plotting and visual cues to be surprised, much less delighted, very often. But the stories that are quilted together to create Asheville: The Movie do both (at least so far).

I promised not to give away content details, and I won't, but I will share a few more surprising and delighting tidbits about the film and its making.

Chusy estimates that he's got about 20 more days of filming. Those days currently are scheduled for the end of this month and half of August. If you're in Asheville, you may be able to help. The casting is complete, so it's not yet your chance to become a star, but if you know of a trailer for rent as a location site, call co-producer Andy O'Neil at 828-337-1762 .

Also, if you've ever worked on a movie set, you know that the most important part of filming is food. Yes, food (well, and coffee and alcohol). The cast and crew need 20 people to commit to feeding 20 people for one day during filming. So, if you make a mean lasagna or have an extra pound of coffee stashed in the freezer, you can help (and have your name added to the long list of "thank yous" at the end of the film that no one reads). Again, call Andy at 828-337-1762.

Okay, now for a few non-sustaining, but delicious, yummies. Jardine says that 90 percent of his actors have never been in front of a camera before (at least not in front of the Cadillac of a camera that Chusy uses). In fact, he cast part of the film by wandering around Wal-Hell and saying to random people: "Wanna be in a movie?" Most of those people, of course, told him to eff off, even after he told them he was not making a porno (riiiiiggght!). But a few caught the vibe that this guy is for real and took the bait. Such is the legend of career launchings.

I find the fact that most of these people have never acted difficult to believe because there are some amazing performances in this film. Okay, I know you're thinking, who the hell are you, Roger effing Ebert? No, but my Master's degree is in Performance Theory AND I performed the role of Lady Capulet in a college production of Romeo & Juliet. So, basically, I have no clue what I'm talking about.

Anyway, Chusy's seven-year-old daughter is one of the rising stars of A:TM. Miss Perla HAS acted before, and, in fact, is currently up in NYC filming SpiderMan 3. Which, I'm sure, will have crap dialogue and fabulous special effects. But watch for Miss Perla--she's going to brighten your day, and, hopefully, Spidey's too.

Most of Miss P's scenes are with this dude named Jeremiah Brennan, who doubles as Chusy's production assistant when he's not in front of the camera. Jeremiah is pure Asheville hippie--ratty, in need of both a haircut and a shower, and sweet as peach pie. He's got these piercing ice blue eyes, which, when you can see them through his matted curls, will raise gooseflesh. The boy can act, and with a seven-year-old no less. I can barely get my seven-year-old to brush her teeth, while Chusy and Jeremiah coax an award-winning turn from the talented Miss P.

Before last week, the last time I was in an editing suite was in 1992 and, wow, has technology changed (I used to have to carry a huge cardboard box of NTSC tapes around--bonus points if you know what NTSC is, or was).

Part of what's incredibly impressive about what I saw of A:TM is the high level of professionalism. The film looks great. Is it even film anymore or is it some kind of digital mojo? I don't even know. But it looks cool, even before color correction and sound leveling.

In addition to the fun, quirky, and sometimes painful, story lines, I LOVE getting to see so much footage of my hometown in A:TM. Chusy covers Asheville: he's filmed at Jones Park (my hood) Pritchard Park, Lex Ave (all over downtown, in fact) Black Mountain, Biltmore Forest, and who knows where else.

Chusy's camera lens caresses our town and our mountains. He clearly knows and loves this area and its people. And you're gonna love him once you get to see this movie (except for the filthy hippie blogger--who, will hate him, but he hates everyone, so who cares). Hopes are that the film will be ready to premiere at one of the big European festivals next spring--Cannes, preferably. Then those of us film buffs in Ashvegas will get to see it soon after.

Chusy refers to Asheville: The Movie as an Appalachian symphony. I think that may be the best description of what I've seen of the film.

Stay tuned. Updates will continue as Chusy sucks me into his quirky sphere of fabulous, fun film.


Screwy Hoolie said...

I. Am. So. Excited. About. This. Movie!

Great writeup, EM. Really fantastic.

syntax said...

ntsc = analog tv resolution standard used in north america, as opposed to pal or secam. named after the "national television system committee", the body that created the standard.

me = dork for knowing that off the top of my head.