Indie joins ranks of local movie shoots
Posted by Jenn McKee | The Ann Arbor News August 31, 2008 07:27AM
Lately, Michigan residents have had stars - like Drew Barrymore, Michael Cera, Clint Eastwood, Juliette Lewis and Jimmy Fallon - in their eyes, thanks to an aggressive film incentive legislation package that passed in April.
Less glamorous, lesser-known beneficiaries of the legislation are local filmmakers like Victor Fanucchi, who just finished an intensive five-week shoot in Ann Arbor for his feature film, "Art House." The comedy - set to feature a cameo appearance by Iggy Pop - focuses on art students who are living at a communal house when a university dean and a descendant of the house's original benefactor decide that the place might be better used as a residence for varsity golf players.
"The starting point was stories from when I lived in a vegetarian co-op in college (at Princeton)," said Fanucchi, who works as a lecturer in screenwriting and film production at the University of Michigan. "There are plenty of stories that come out of that kind of living situation."
Once a story came together, Fanucchi knew precisely where he wanted to shoot. "I'd gone to an after-party during the (2007 Ann Arbor Film) Festival that was hosted by Black Elk Co-op (on Baldwin Street) ... and I experienced a bit of nostalgia going to this place," Fanucchi said.
Fanucchi co-wrote the "Art House" screenplay with Kris Brown, a filmmaker he met while screening his last feature, "Beyond the Pale," at the Austin Film Festival last October. The two came up with a basic story line in December, then hammered out a screenplay in January, sending drafts back and forth.
"We'd already decided on shooting this here in Ann Arbor, and then we heard about the Michigan production incentive legislation, and that gave our minuscule budget a little boost," said Fanucchi. "That was really important."
The film was shot on "high end, high definition" digital, but Fanucchi politely skirts questions about the film's budget. "It was just a relatively small amount that Kris Brown had in a savings account, and she said, 'Either I'm going to build a barn with this money, or we can make a movie together, so let's see if we can come up with an idea that we're both into, that we can co-write,'" explained Fanucchi, who plans to submit the movie to festivals.
The cast and crew combine local talent with people from Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. Perhaps the biggest coup, however, involved an indirect connection that one of the film's producers, Eddie Rubin, had with rock icon Iggy Pop, who grew up and fronted the landmark punk band the Stooges in the Ann Arbor area. After reading the script, Iggy Pop agreed to play the lead character's father. Fanucchi will head to Miami in October for one day of filming.
"We're bringing it to him," said Fanucchi. "He's really doing us a favor by doing this. But I think he likes the part. That's what he said."
Fanucchi also thinks that Pop's local roots may have drawn him to the project. "You have other productions coming in here that have Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti doubling as far-flung places, or not even saying where it's supposed to be - just some small town," he said. "But ... ('Art House') has some Ann Arbor flavor. We tried to do a lot of exteriors and show off Ann Arbor, and the characters talk about it pretty frequently. That might have, when (Pop) read the script, done something for him. So there may be some nostalgia in it for him."
Jenn McKee can be reached at 734-994-6841 or firstname.lastname@example.org