Filmmakers hope flick not too flawed for festival
Locally produced movie to be submitted for international prize
If the locally produced feature film "Flawed" does not make the cut for the Sundance Film Festival, it won't be for lack of intensity.
It took about two months for Nate Ross to develop the story line for his screenplay, with help from his friend Dave Sell. Ross spent four weeks writing the script during a leave of absence from his job at a medical supply firm. A cast and crew of 20 were assembled in a week and it took a week to shoot the movie in and around Milwaukee, including Bay View.
"You could write a movie about the making of this movie," said Heidi D. Mains, a real-life "soccer mom" who portrays a similar character in "Flawed." Mains, an event planner by day, is the production manager of the film.
Ross, with a temporary tattoo of a snake slithering across his chest and over his shaved head, was looking back and looking ahead as he sat on the set - a warehouse in the 2500 block of East Crawford Avenue - just after the last scene wrapped Sept. 9.
Wearing many hats
When the credits for "Flawed" roll, Ross will be listed as executive producer, screenwriter, director and actor. He also is cast as the main character, serial killer "Nicholas Pierce."
The deadline for Sundance, the most prestigious independent film festival in the country, is Friday, Sept. 28. Ross is confident that a rough cut of "Flawed" will be ready for submission.
So is co-producer Marty Alivo, who was the art director, production supervisor and associate producer for the nationally released movie "Dare to Dream: The Alan Kulwicki Story." He is making his acting debut as a supporting character in "Flawed."
Failure to make the Sundance deadline, Alivo said, "is not an option. This is not going to get hung up in production."
"Flawed," billed as a psychological thriller, can be described as " 'The Breakfast Club' meets Hannibal Lecter," Ross said. The plot centers on the serial killer explaining his crimes to a select group of criminal psychology students. Ross said the movie explores perspectives on a number of social issues not usually tackled by Hollywood.
"The script is driven by emotion," Alivo said.
Milwaukee's got talent
The film is set in Milwaukee, and not coincidentally. Ross is married with two young children and going to New York or Los Angeles was simply impractical. He had virtually no connections in the film industry, and he did not know any actors or crew members, but he did have an idea for a casting call.
"I thought there might be others out there who are stuck here as well," Ross said. "So I put an ad on Craigslist."
The Web-based classified ad service did the trick.
Within days, Ross had connected with director Mark Kagan, who was assistant director and editor for "Dare to Dream," and co-producers Jim Cryns and Alivo.
"Casting was a trip," Ross said.
Aaron Gale came into the picture intending to work on the crew, but ended up in front of the camera as an actor.
"I like the way he carried himself," Alivo said. "When he read, he was just perfect for the part."
Terrell Monroe Harper is a first-time actor as well.
"These guys did a really good job of making you feel comfortable," Harper said.
The five days of shooting, he added, was his dream come true.
Friends share focus
Harper said the cast and crew all became good friends during the production. With a couple of comedians in the company, there were plenty of laughs to break the tension. Harper said he was laughing so often, he is surprised he has any stomach muscles left.
"We've all come on board and agreed to work for nothing," Alivo said. "We trusted Nate from the beginning."
Locations for "Flawed" included Mitchell Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a home in Bay View and a convenience store in Caledonia. Much of the film was shot at the RD Images warehouse in St. Francis.
Alivo said he is confident that "Flawed" will be shown locally, but the cast and crew all have the same goal in mind.
Harper seconded that emotion.
"Everybody's focus is on Sundance," he said.
Nan Bialek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (262) 446-6632.
'Flawed' at a glance
CAST: Nate Ross, Patrick Beck, William Zenobia, Marty Alivo, Heidi D. Mains, Terrell Monroe Harper, Jake Weninger, Aaron Gale, Dawn Marie
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Nate Ross
CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Dick Grabowski
DIRECTORS: Nate Ross, Mark Kagan
CO-PRODUCERS: Marty Alivo, Jim Cryns
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Nate Ross, David Sell
SCREENPLAY EDITOR: Jean Russell
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Mark Kagan
PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR: Marty Alivo
PRODUCTION MANAGER: Heidi D. Mains
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