Friday, December 23, 2011

Spotlight On: Jeff Moore, DP Victims of Circumstance

I first met Jeff Moore in highschool, some 19 years ago. We shared a passion for storytelling and spent hours upon hours developing various theoretical projects and discussing the movie we would someday make.

It seemed only fitting, then, that VOC was birthed through similar conversations with the man. Back when I decided that I wanted to start production on a web-project, Jeff was the first person I contacted. In the early stages, VOC was to be a throw-away endeavor; something quick and easy I could cut my teeth on. As time went on, the story (and my passion for it) grew exponentially and it became the film you are all soon to experience.

Early on I knew that I was asking a lot of Jeff as DP: take a movie that is exposition heavy and make it look interesting. He was more than up to the task and his work on the project still amazes me.

All that being said, I now invite you to take a few moments and get to know the man behind the camera.

Paul: We’ve known each other for a long, long time, sir. What’s your most interesting memory of us from back in the day?

JM: Wow… That’s an amazingly tough question. We spent our high school theatre days – which suddenly seem like a terribly long time ago – causing various kinds of innocent trouble. If I could narrow it down to one thing, it would be an incredible feat. Let’s just let it be known that there are plenty of good times behind as well as ahead.

Paul: What made you decide that Film (be it web series, shorts, features, etc) is what you wanted to pursue?

JM: My wife and I started a live theatre company when she was fresh out of college, and we did that for a while. As time went by, we discovered that the particular challenges of that type of production were becoming obstacles to our goals that were not worth pursuing – both financially and creatively. I had a bit of experience with the film process, and the idea of the web series was just startingto become a “thing.” Since we also had some experience with podcasting, we transitioned to video for the web and found it – and its own unique challenges – to be exactly what we wanted to tackle next. It’s a comfortable discipline for me to work in, and I have a great deal of interest in working and learning. It just made a lot of sense.

Paul: You’re a whiz when it comes to Post Production effects. What scene (in any project) are you most proud of?

JM: I’ve got a pretty elaborate composite that I’m working on for Gamer Chick that includes multiple greenscreen[sic] and CGplates. I expect that to be pretty great when it comes together. If you want one I’ve already finished, I visualized, directed, shot and completed work for a pretty neat comp for season one of Gamer Chick. It involves a single character playing all the villains in a shot, and the timing of the whole thing worked out much better than I had expected.

Paul: What made you decide to sign on as the DP of VOC?

JM: I had been working on a project that my company is producing. As a creative partner and the only technical artist currently working on it, I end up doing many, many jobs; it’s very time-consuming, and can be exhausting. When the opportunity came up to do a single job on a project, I jumped at it. I still ended up lending some equipment and my varying levels of expertise on a few other subjects, but I really only had the one job. That was a nice feeling.

Paul: What was your biggest challenge during this production?

JM: My biggest challenge during the production of VOC was to continually find ways to use the camera as a tool to heighten the on-screen action. The show has a lot of dialogue-heavy scenes,so I really had to push myself to keep finding new angles and new moves to amplify their mood.

Paul: The movie is being edited as I type. Regarding your camera work, is there one scene in particular that you are most proud of?

JM: I honestly couldn’t pick one. There are always going to be things that you feel like you could have done better or differently or whatever, but I feel like my work was consistent from start to finish on this show. That was actually something I was fairly proud of, now that I’m thinking about it – maintaining a consistent look with minimal gear in various interior and exterior locations over the course of close to a year.

Paul: You’re given a multi-million dollar budget. Whatproject would you green light?

JM: I’ve got a feature script in the early stages that I’d love to make one day. I think a multi-million dollar budget would enable me to finish the first draft.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Who is...Chris Neumann?

Take a long, hard look at the picture above. VOC currently rests almost squarely on this gentleman's shoulders.

Chris Neumann is a monster in the Chicago/NWI indie film scene. He's a writer, director, DP, musician and (thankfully for me) one of the best Editors in the business. As I type he is no doubt enjoying a drink and laboring furiously to get the final cut of our movie finished on-schedule. I thought it only fitting to take moment to introduce you the man behind the curtain.

Chris and I talk almost daily but it was just last week that we sat down for some fish-and-chips (fries, technically), had a drink and conducted the interview below. Enoy...

How old are you, sir?

Where did you go to school?
Lake Central for high school. Purdue Cal for my Bachelors (visual communications and graphic arts with a minor in Philosophy) and my Masters (media design) at Full Sail University.

How long have you been working in film?
I started years and years ago in graphic art. I was in a band and we wanted videos and flyers and figured it’d be better if we learned to do it ourselves. So I did, and after that I fell in love with multimedia design and production.

When it comes to film, you’re definitely a jack of all trades. What aspect of production do you have the most fun with?
What I enjoy depends on the project, but I really love working on the music and the scoring and being a DP (director of photography). DP is great because you get to add so much creativity to each shot or angle, really narrowing down what people get to experience.

Of everything you’ve done, what project are you the most proud of?
A really short film that not many people have ever seen. I worked on a project called “Instantaneous Haze”. It was great because those who did see it had no clue how it was made.

You gotta give me some details here.
People that saw it insisted we used special effects, but we didn’t.

It was an indirect way of crediting people’s talents that we didn’t need effects.

You realize now I need to see this thing.
I was just going through my hard-drives the other day and found it so I could show Brandon [Berk].

When faced with an obstacle (while working on a project) is your initial reaction “Oh Crap” or “I think I can do this”?
My initial reaction is to go outside and have a smoke. Or go inside, pending on where I am. Basically I try to physically get as far away from the project as possible so I can re-assess the situation. Then for inspiration I think back to all of the other times I was working on a project and one of us found a way around a difficult task at hand.

Mining on past experience?
Yeah…something like that.

So all that being said, how many cigarettes have you had thanks to VOC?
Today? 3. (laughs)

Has it made you have to walk away yet?
No, it hasn’t been crazily problematic.

What made you agree to sign on as the VOC editor?
Brandon [Berk]* talked highly of the film. And when I read the script I enjoyed the plot.
(*amongst other things, plays Hantover in the movie)

What are your hopes for this movie?
To be able to see it in a theater while drinking a gin and tonic.

Last time we shared a drink you were very indecisive on your poison of choice. Do you have a favorite gin?
London Dry. I got it once because the bottle had this little bowler hat that was on the cap, which was the only reason I got it as I ended up using the hat in a stop-motion project I was working on.

If you had a multi-million dollar budget, what would you work on?
I’m writing this dystopian sci-fi piece that would ideally star Joseph Gordon Levitt and Shatner…or this other older fellow who I thought of after Shatner, but no one in film would know who he is so let’s just say Shatner. Yeah, that or I’d love to work on the music for the next psychedelic Legend of Zelda game because of my love for Majora’s Mask.

Three questions left, and now they get real. Boobs or Butt?
Live or on film?

Coffee or tea?
Depends on who I’m with and what I’m doing.

You are so insanely vague!
Such is life.

If you could be forever remembered for a single statement it’d be…
If you’re not getting ahead in life, you’re falling behind.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Behind the scenes

Since the birth of this blog Mike and I have done our best to sing the praises of the folks who have helped (or are helping) to bring VOC to life. There are a few more Spotlight posts coming soon enough, but today I wanted to take a second to thank a very special collection of individuals who helped keep everything together behind the scenes.

Dowald "Joseph" Eco

Boom Operator
Joe and I were introduced virtually through mutual friends and he took a serious interest in the VOC project. He was interested in scoping out the set and as luck would have it I was very much in need of a boom operator for a key scene. Never one to ignore the alignment of stars, I made the call and Joe jumped on board. He was great to work with especially considering he had no prior experience. Rumor has it we're upgrading him to an on-screen role for the sequel!

John Albright

Boom Operator, Production Assistant, Securer of Locations

I really can't say enough about Johnny A! I've known the man for almost 20 years and he is sincerely a jack of all trades. For VOC he wore quite a few hats on-set but in my opinion his single greatest contribution was securing the room that would serve as Caitlyn's office for most of the film. John is always a blast to work with and as I review footage I still get the giggles when his booming baritone announces "Victim of Circumstance, Scene 1, Shot 2".

Erik Nelson

Boom Operator

Nelson has been one of my best friends for quite some time. What he lacked in on-set experience he more than made up for with his knowledge of AV Equipment, Recording Theory and Pick Up Lines that would make a nun melt. I was thrilled that he was willing to jump on board with this production and look forward to using him on-screen in the near future.

Matt Winecke

Graphic Artist/Logo Design

Matt got his own blurb here awhile ago but not a day goes by that I'm not thankful for the spectacular work he did designing the VOC I had to include him here just because.

Brandon Berk

"Hantover"/Boom Operator/Cool-guy-to-have-around

From now until the end of time I will be thankful to VOC for birthing my introduction to Brandon Berk. The guy is a force of nature in the indie world. His resume is too long to list but here's all you really need to know: Nobody is more dedicated than Brandon. He was a blast to have on camera, a whiz behind the scenes and never complained once when I spiked his coffee with hot sauce. I mean, really, what more could you ask for?

Kristel Pischner

"Tara"/Script Supervisor/Purveyor of Awesomeness

Kristel is one of the coolest people I know, hands down. Back when VOC was little more than a collection of ideas rattling around my brain, Kris was there to help me make sense of it all. She served as Script Supervisor, Story Consultant and plays the role of Tara on-screen. Her biggest contribution to the project, however, is that she has an amazing way of keeping me grounded, on-task and "out of the crazy". Because of her presence, no actors were seriously injured during this production.

There are a lot of other folks that we need to thank but this group really earned a special place in my heart. Without them, none of this would be possible.

So, just to make it official, to Joe, John, Nelson, Matt, Brandon and Kris: 

It meant the world to me.


Friday, December 2, 2011

The Reel Deal...Insider's Info.

Hey there gang!

Okay so I guess we owe you an apology because we got everyone reading the blog and then stopped adding content out of the blue (holidays, movie trailer, contract negotiations, our real jobs, cars breaking down, life...oh did I mention life?).

So...very sorry to all you faithful readers.  Paul, Daniel, and Buddy collapsed after giving birth to the teaser trailer.  I hope you've had the chance to check it out here.

The incomparable Chris Neumann is editing like a mad man.  I'm sure Paul has his eyes set for a follow up trailer...just as soon as he figures out what insane part of the his brain he wants to apply to it.

Also, we have cleverly tricked you into going to our Youtube site (see above)...we didn't put it out there without planning on using it.  There will be some things dropping on that channel that we may or may not notify you about them on the blog.

Also, you'll be seeing some changes to the website as we get closer to the film launch.  We have a talented guy helping us out (and patiently waiting for more content) named Joe Vanerio.

So I wanted to take a second this morning and say...

First sorry.

Second, Paul and I do read every comment, email, tweet, smoke signal, and carrier pigeon message (complaint) about the lack of posts and more importantly....When the hell is the movie coming out?

Soon, be patient...soon, my "precious".  Yikes.

Okay and in support of the folks who were there first...go see Buddy gigging this weekend, or Robby.  And Sarah appears in a crossover video online.  You can find it...I can't mention it by name due to a contractual agreement, but I watched it earlier and it was pretty cool.

Everyone have a great weekend!  We'll have some more stuff for you next week (I promise...I think....I hope...well...).


NWI Entertainer's Article is online...

Please check out NWI Entertainer's original article here:

Paul Celestin
By Stephanie Vega
A region native is taking to the big screen with an independent film shot entirely in Northwest Indiana. Paul Celestin has served as writer, director and producer for a film called "Victims of Circumstance", a film ready to be released in our area early next year. "The film is about an assassin for hire who works for Homeland Security," Celestin says, setting the stage. "He's a career criminal who's having a crisis of conscience in regards to some of the things he's had to do. He's forced into therapy sessions to deal with his post traumatic stress disorder and has to choose between the man he is and the man he wants to become."

This character driven drama, which is dark, gritty and has a little bit of action, features many familiar backdrops as scenes for the film were shot across Lake County. "We shot several scenes at Northwoods in St. John, including a martial arts sequence," said Celestin. "We also shot two scenes in Highland at Poppy's Café on Indianapolis Blvd, as well as multiple scenes at the church office of First United Methodist Church in Crown Point. We also used houses in Hammond and Highland and we filmed at Main Square Park in Highland."

The film has been in the works for about a year and for Celestin it was a labor of love. "I've been writing for years but this is my first independent film," he said. "When I first started, it was going to be a short story. Then I started bouncing ideas around and before long I had a project I didn't know what to do with. Then, Mike Trentz (my partner in production company J.I.Lange) helped make it happen. He checked out the script and breathed new life into the project."

And with that the two hit the ground running but of course had to jump over many hurdles along the way. "He had never produced, I had never made one," said Celestin in regards to film making. "We had a lot of late night brainstorming sessions and between the two of us there were tons of sleepless nights, there still are. There were obstacles we encountered that at first made me stop and go 'Oh no, we're dead' but somehow we were able to overcome every single one."

"We managed to overcome roadblocks which included everyday life, as the cast and crew all had day jobs and most had families. "I'm a purchasing agent for a food manufacturer out of Illinois," explained Celestin. "I'm married to an adorable school teacher and we have three kids under the age of 10. This was truly a passion project."

Filming for the movie, which was shot entirely in HD, has wrapped and is currently in the editing process. The movie is scheduled to be released at the end of January and Celestin and the gang are looking at having a one day premiere at a theater in Northwest Indiana. "On that same day, everything will go live for purchase as a digital download or DVD," he said.

But for now, you can keep up to date on how things are going with the film through blog updates on their movie website; The website is updated three times a week and you'll be able to get a sneak peek at behind the scenes action as well as YouTube videos, promos and new content. "If you follow the blog, you get the first look as it becomes available," said Celestin. "You'll also be able to see our promotional teaser video as well as a music video we are filming."

The music video will be of an original song composed by Celestin's brother Robby (Time Peace, Final Say and RCB) that will be featured in the movie as well. "The music video will feature performance shots from Robby as well as scenes from the movie," Celestin said. "It's all really exciting."

Celestin, who was born and raised in East Chicago and currently lives in Highland, is excited to share this movie with his community and friends and hopes the film will be a success. "As an artist, I'm hoping to open the film to a large fan base that just loves it," he said. "The producer in me is hoping to recoup our investment and get in a position where we can easily fund a follow up project. And the end of the day, I still have a lot of stories to tell."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Official Teaser Trailer

It is with great Honor, Pride and Gratitude that I present to you the Official "Victims of Circumstance" teaser trailer.

Click the link and enjoy.


#voc, #voctrailer

Friday, November 18, 2011

Coming Soon...

It's been a rough and tumble week, kids, but there is officially a light at the end of the tunnel. It is with great pride and baited breath that I make the following announcement:

Next Tue, 11/22, the first Victims of Circumstance trailer goes viral.

The trailer will be available here as well as on the VOC YouTube channel.

It was expertly cut by Daniel DeRousseau, one of the best montage-guys in the business. Dan sifted through the footage and in 2 minutes told the story it will take me over an hour to show. He is a monster when it comes to Trailers, plain and simple. The piece was scored by VOC's own Buddy Wayne Goettsch and I am dying to let you see it.

But you have to wait...just a little bit longer.

Enjoy your weekend, folks. Good things are right around the corner.


#vocfilm, #voctrailer

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Too close for comfort....

Reviewing photos snapped at a rally from yesterday, didn't realize how much danger I was really in.

#vocfilm, #OWSchicago

Monday, November 14, 2011

How to hit a moving target

Reality is one of the most sadistic entities known to man. It is in a constant state of change, ebbing and flowing in directions that are not always conducive to even the most thought out strategies. In the world of VOC, Devin learns this lesson time and time again.

Despite his best efforts, Reality has a way of stepping in and blowing even the best laid plans completely to hell. In this case, I like to believe that is Art imitating Life.

Every film, VOC included, is in a constant state of evolution until the final cut is printed. During production the filmmaker needs to constantly Adapt to hundreds of changes brought on by thousands of issues, major or minor. I had several instances where hours/days/weeks of planning had to be scrapped on location due to Reality.

During those instances I was faced with two very simple choices:

Adapt or Die.

The interesting thing is, I learned that I work extremely well under pressure. As I review footage during the editing stage I'm reminded that a few of my favorite scenes started off as Obstacles. I had to re-direct, re-block, re-write and re-think on location while the clock was ticking. Thankfully, miraculously even, what ended up being caught on camera was far better than my originally planned shots.

Adapt or Die. Conflict breeds Emotion.

Those are two ideas to keep in mind when writing a script. If your character is forced to make split second decisions, if he is given the opportunity to be an emotional alchemist, the audience will have more opportunities for empathy. And an empathetic audience is the key to success.

In the world of Devin Reeves and VOC, in the world that you and I occupy, one rule stays constant:

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." - Charles Darwin


#voc, #vocfilm, #chicagofilm, #indiefilm

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NWI Film: Jump on board

Take one pound of your favorite flavor of pudding. Now hold it in both hands. Now take it to the nearest forest and try to staple it to a tree using one of those tiny, throw-away staplers. Frustrated yet? Welcome to the world of the Indie Filmmaker.

Making films is not relaxing, at least, not if you're making them correctly. It is a painful, dangerous, exhausting, mind-numbing, excruciating, head-pounding ordeal and those of us who choose to follow this path are most likely certifiable...because we enjoy every second of the chaos.

At times filmmaking is a very lonely process. Though you are surrounded by cohorts and talent and crew, you, The Creator, are alone responsible for the eventual outcome. The weight of the multi-verse weighs heavy on your shoulders and it is during those times that you would easily sell your spleen for an empathetic ear. If you happen to live in North West Indiana, you can put the scalpel down and instead be thankful for the parents of Rainier Alcantara and John Metzler.

Awhile back, Rainier was beginning production on his first independent feature, Bar Room Hero. He knew all to well the isolation of the indie film creator and decided to actively remedy said situation. Through hard work, dedication and just the right amount of maniacal intution he helped birth the Northwest Indiana Film Forum. NWI Film, as it is known, started off as an online meeting ground where Northwest Indiana filmmakers could rant, rave, vent and network. Over time the group grew to become the go-to destination for anyone remotely tied to the indie scene; if you want to act, need a director, have questions regarding SAG or are looking for a producer, NWI Film is the place you head to first.

As time went on Rainier met and drafted the uber-talented John Metzler to help head up the Facebook version of the site. Through their unrelenting stubborness the page has grown considerably and NWI filmmakers flock to it daily to compare notes, gain insight and trade opportunities.

Admittedly, the group is exclusive and open only to film folk, though Rainier and John have recently launched a brand new endeavor. Realizing that the various NWI projects in play need a place to call home, the boys have recently launched the NWI Film Fan Page on Facebook. This page is open to the public and gives filmmakers an opportunity to promo their work to a target audience: People who dig indie films.

The fan page can be found at

I say again: This is an open forum for FANS of indie film, specifically fans of projects that are in production in Northwest IN. If you fit this description, log-in to Facebook, click LIKE and stay in the Know.

Rest assured that Victims of Circumstance will have a noticeable presence on the page, co-existing with countless other just-as-awesome projects. It truly is an amazing chance to catch some First Look info.

I believe I speak for all indie filmmakers, NWI and beyond, when I say that your endorsement of this Fan Page will do wonders to calm our typically frazzled nerves.

Kudos to Rainier and John for putting the ball in motion. Now it's up to you, the True Believers, to keep pushing it along.


#vocfilm, #chicagofilm, #indiefilm, #nwifilm

Monday, November 7, 2011

Behind every great man...

I find myself in an odd state this morning. Not like Iowa or Rhode Island, no, even more bizarre. For the first time since I started working on Victims of Circumstance I actually have a second to breathe and reflect.

There are wheels in motion regarding the VOC marketing scheme that are mind-blowing to say the least. Very, very soon some pretty phenomenal news will be released to you but until then I am stuck in a kind of “hurry up and wait” mode. Not quite cruise control but not quite the hustle and bustle I’ve been used to for the last few months.

That being said, I’m reminded of how often I’ve needed to be anchored and reeled back in during these pre-production, production, post-production, marketing phases. Undoubtedly I’ve had the luxury of working with some truly gifted and talented individuals but if VOC has one unsung hero her name is clearly Andi Celestin.

Andi and I have been married for almost 6 years and this movie would never have come to fruition without her patience, understanding and smile. Almost a year ago I let her know that I was thinking about moving forward with production on the VOC script. Admittedly, at that time the scope of the project was worlds away from what it has currently become, but throughout every single step Andi has been standing by my side: sometimes holding me up, sometimes pushing me forward, sometimes smacking me in the back of the head while asking: “Really?!??!”

As you can well imagine, as you’ve already seen, VOC monopolizes most of my time and higher brain function. That wouldn’t be much of an issue if I didn’t have a day job and 3 awesomely-exhausting energetic children at home. There have been countless days/nights that I’ve had to be away from my family to work on this project; it’s a sacrifice any struggling artist makes. I’ve been fortunate, however, to have the kind of Partner who has never questioned my investment of time. Andi, in many ways, was the first True Believer, potentially even before I was. She knows that VOC is going to take over the world. She lives it, breathes it, teaches it and admires it. This film would never have been made without the blood, sweat and tears of countless individuals and I may never get the opportunity to thank each and every one of them properly, but I have to start sometime. 

And today I would like to thank my wife.

So honey, here’s to you in all of your quirky, intelligent, insightful, know-when-to-guide-me and know-when-to-let-me-find-my-own-way glory. I couldn’t have done this without you.


#vocfilm, #indiefilm, #chicagomovie, #indiesmovie

Friday, November 4, 2011

Who is...Buddy Wayne Goettsch?

When I first began writing the treatment for what would become VOC I knew instantly that I wanted Buddy Wayne Goettsch to be the one to bring Devin to life. I've had the luxury of knowing Buddy for well over a decade and while we have tackled various projects over the years none of them were as intense as what VOC would become.

For those of you who don't know, Buddy Wayne Goettsch is a force of nature in the entertainment world. His career began at the age of 5 when his parents would invite friends over and have Buddy perform for hours at a time on the piano and organ. From there, music and theatre became his passion. He has fronted, birthed and taken part in more musical acts than I have room to list (Lock the Gate, Time Peace, The Current and The Strugglers just to name a few) and is a musical jack of all trades, playing guitar, bass, drums and piano. And then there's that Voice. Buddy is hands down one of the best vocalists in the business and he has made opportunities to flaunt and hone his craft across the country and throughout Europe. Rumor has it he may be jumping back into the studio in the very near future to begin work on a brand new cd.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Buddy devoted a solid portion of his life to the theatrical stage. As with his bands, the shows he's participated in over the years are far too numerous to list but, as evident by his performance in this film, it was truly time well spent.

What makes Buddy invaulable to any project he puts his hands on, however, is his Dedication. Buddy's prints are all over VOC. In the beginning, he was my sound board for character and story ideas. He willingly threw himself into an intense rehearsal schedule, never complaining about the long hours, late nights and lost weekends. As time went on he played a pivotal role in organizing the raw footage of the movie and supplying me with screen captures that I get to show off here. And as if he didn't have anything else to do, Buddy is currently working on the score for the film.

On top of all of that, in spite of all of that, Buddy amazed me at every single shoot. For those of you who know him, and those of you who are soon to meet him, you know that Buddy is a shot of energy, plain and simple. He brings a party (and an after-party) to every situation. In many respects, Buddy is the antithesis of Devin Reeves, which is why I was so impressed. Devin is dark in ways that most people can't comprehend, let alone bring to life. In the beginning, Buddy let me know that he had concerns regarding the emotional doors he would have to open to properly give Devin life. He had to go to several dark and scary places, places that took days to shake off, but he never complained. Not once.

For that alone I consider it an honor to have had the chance to work with him on VOC...and I can't wait to start rolling on the sequel.

(Just kidding)

(sort of...)



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

VOC in Print...The hell you say?

Well good morning True Believers! It was a long night, in part to Paul calling to say "Oh yeah, the interview for Victims of Circumstance got printed and is out right now!" That sort of derailed my night...where could I find this it online? No, not til Friday....well I can't wait that long. I hop in the car and head out to Northwest Indiana, where I find cast, crew, director, and groupie hanging out reading their own personal copy of a story on VOC. Not to be out done, I have to read it myself.

First of all...thank you Stephanie Vega for the interview! I know Paul is good at putting words to paper, but you made him sound all polished and professional. Thanks. Also...Aaron Brown's poster featuring Buddy Wayne Goettsch looks more impressive in print then it does hanging on my wall (of course I got a movie poster looks cool). The article is kind enough to mention some of our generous partners, who have opened their establishments as filming locales and lent their immense talents to our project.

So please support Northwest Indiana Entertainer ( and pick up a copy. For those of you outside of the Chicago metro area, the article will appear on line later this week, please check it out.



Monday, October 31, 2011

The True Believers of VOC

There is so much information that I want to write in this post that I just can't...Victims of Circumstance has this peculiarly semi-charmed life.  I don't want to jinx it by breaking news too early.

When you listen to the story of how this movie got made, I want you to realize that you, good reader, were here...when it all happened.  I wish I could tell you the great news we got this weekend, but the time is not right.  Up to this point our little, me, and Paul have been had this lovely little secret.  A story that Paul wrote and with the hard work of some amazingly talented people was able to capture "on film" to share with the world.  Well later this week, our little secret is about to spread to a slightly larger audience.  Paul and VOC are going to be featured in an article that will drop online and in print and we are thrilled.  

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  You have been privy to a family secret and now we are about to share it with a few more people.  Will you please help welcome them?  Share it with your friends and your family.  You were the first to know, to be aware of this great little project.  As Paul likes to say, you are a part of the True Believers.

For those of you who don't know...J.I.Lange Productions is managing this whole process.  Mike and Paul are excited to be apart of a great production team and have faith that we've partnered correctly to bring VOC to the national and hopefully international stage.  J.I.Lange has added a forensic technical consultant, marketing managers, social media consultants, graphic artists, and industry professionals to help pave the way to seeing VOC on the big screen.

The last thing I would like to add is a big thank you to our international audience!  I never would have thought that the little film that could would have followers in the UK, India, Japan, Russia, Poland, Germany, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Columbia, and our humble respect to the service men and women who are taking time out in Afghanistan to read the blog and ask about the movie.

Thank you all...and we'll see you at the movies!  Mike

#vocfilm, #indiefilm, #chicagomovies, #indiemovies

Friday, October 28, 2011

Yin and Yang: The Women of VOC

Any way you cut it, people in general are obsessed with the concept of Love. They live for it, strive for it, long for it and pine for it when it is no longer theirs. The interesting thing to me, however, is that Love always gets such fantastic "press". It is viewed by many as the entire point of mankind's existence and yet, when you really think about it, Love has the capacity to be far from pure.

Love the right person and you can make dreams come true. Admittedly, I believe that. What happens, however, when the wrong person Loves you? What happens when True Love becomes motivation for truly dark and unthinkable actions? More importantly, what happens when you come face to face with both sides of Love, the Light and the Dark?

At its core, VOC is a love story; a love story that explores many facets of my favorite emotion. On screen, the second character we are introduced to is Agent Charlamagne "Charlie" Medina, played by the uber-talented Amanda Maul. Charlie is Devin's handler and the two of them share's complicated. Charlie is dark, vicious and calculating and she knows better than anyone else exactly how to throw Devin off balance. This is a dark, almost suffocating expression of when Love goes bad.

(Side note: Thanks to Amanda's talent as an actress, Charlie became my favorite character to write for. Some of my favorite lines of the film are delivered effortlessly by Amanda and I still get tickled every time I see the footage.)

On the opposite end of the spectrum lies Dr. Caitlyn George, brought to life by Sarah Moore. Caitlyn, like Charlie, is a woman of high intellect and intense strength of character. She has the ability to cleave through Devin's bravado and misdirection, something no one else has ever been able to do. Caitlyn represents Love in a pure form and offers a glimpse at a future Devin has never allowed himself to imagine.

Two women, similar yet not, as flawed as they are refined.

They have the capacity to empower or destroy Devin; to save him or damn him; to Love him or...Love him.

And Devin? Well, all he has to do is make a choice and then try to live with it...or through it.


#vocfilm, #indiefilm, #chicagofilm, #indiemovies

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

First Look: Meet the Characters

Today is a very good day, True Believers. 
It is with great honor and immense pride that I officially introduce you to some of the characters from Victims of Circumstance

Buddy Wayne Goettsch as Devin Reeves

Sarah Moore as Dr. Caitlyn George  

                                      Dan Maul as Carter




Monday, October 24, 2011

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Never Mine: The un-love song

A few posts back I tipped my hat to the fact that Robby Celestin is writing a song to be featured in a key scene of VOC. While I'm not quite ready to give you a listen, I will offer a read. The lyrics to the song NEVER MINE are below, as penned by Robby. The song is written from Devin's perspective and offers a glimpse of the tragedy he has become.


(R. Celestin)

All alone am I, in this place of my design

Don't recall a memory of something that is mine

I'm a wounded man in every sense of the word

Self-inflicted are the scars that I incur

You're standing there, a vision so divine

I close my eyes but in this dream you're never mine

Never mine. Never mine.

I can take anything I want in this world but you

Never mine. You're never mine.

My soul hangs down, my heart stays deserted because you're never mine

There's nothing to save me. I'm lost in this sea

There's no way to get to the one that makes me free

I can look but never touch because in this painful dance

For once I'm the Victim and you're the Circumstance

When you're close to me the pain and longing grow

We wonder how a touch would feel but we're not allowed to know

Never mine. You're never mine.

I can take anything I want in this world but you

Never mine. You're never mine.

My soul hangs down my heart stays deserted because you're never mine

It hurts so bad; the answer is simple yet it's not

These two world's colliding; it's never worth the shot

So we stay so far apart in this tiny little room

Wanting a taste of a love we can't resume

I'll yearn so painfully and deepen my desire

A slow death on the inside from this longing, from this fire

Never mine...

Stay tuned, True Believers. The song (and more) will be dropping soon.



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

An Original Sin

The other day I was asked to pick out a few of my favorite scenes from VOC and while the task was daunting to say the least, I was able to settle on a Top 5. In the #2 spot is the fight-scene discussed earlier. Of the remaining 4, I realized that most of the scenes I chose had one (additionally) common thread: they were all filmed at Northwoods Restaurant & Bar in St. John, IN.

Jeff Fryzel, owner/operator of Northwoods, is pretty much a Super Hero, and I mean that in every sense of the word. His joint is not only one of the best restaurants in Northwest IN but at night it turns into one of the hottest clubs around. Every year he hosts a spectacular tribute to the Fallen of 9/11. There is hardly a charity within dreaming distance that he does not contribute to in some fashion and in the middle of it all he is one of the funniest, most insightful, individuals you'll ever meet, not to mention the life of every party. Ten minutes of Jeff's time is enough to make you feel good for the rest of the week. Oh, and did I mention that he loves Original artists?

Northwest IN is a tricky region when it comes to live entertainment. 99.9% of bars and clubs want bands who are going to play Top 40 hits and stand-by favorites; music that is good for crowds and good for business. Jeff Fryzel, however, is the only bar owner in the area who understands that musicians are Artists, not Jukeboxes. That being said, once a month Jeff and Northwoods host an All Original Music Night, where locals bands are able to come in and perform a night of their own material. To an artist, there are no words that can express how grateful they are to have this opportunity. But that's part of who Jeff is: he understands people and gives them what no one else will.

In the early stages of writing the VOC script I bounced a few ideas off of Jeff and sheepishly asked if I could potentially film one scene at the parking lot. Jeff responded with a perfectly deadpanned "Absolutely not." And then he laughed the way only Jeff can and he opened the doors to his club, his Baby, for whatever I needed to nurture mine.

At the end of it all, VOC filmed in Northwood's parking lot, the banquet room upstairs, the VIP room and in the bar.

The climax of the movie, one of my Top 5 picks, was filmed over the course of six hours at Northwoods on a Monday night, a night the bar should technically have been closed. When I was enroute that night with cast and crew I called Jeff just to offer a sincere "thanks in advance." He waved it off and said, "Hey, you needed a place...I have a place. It's all good."

And that is what makes Mr. Fryzel a Super Hero.

That being said, don't take my word for it. Next time you're looking for a spectacular meal or an insane night out on the town, head on over to Northwoods Restaurant & Bar. No doubt you'll see Jeff there. And when he walks up to introduce himself, as he always does, do me a favor and tell him Paul said Thanks.

Catch all the details of the Northwoods party schedule at:



Monday, October 17, 2011

Ain't that a kick in the head...

You have to remember that outside of being a tortured soul Devin Reeves is an accomplished assassin, plain and simple. And in the early stages of writing the VOC script I knew that, while I didn't want action to be the focus of the film, I needed to show Devin's physical prowess otherwise the character would be less believable.

This posed an interesting dilemma because while Buddy Wayne Goettsch is a fantastic actor he had no prior hand-to-hand combat experience. Thankfully I had access to a secret genetic weapon: My older brother, Chad Celestin.

Like Devin, Chad is a walking dichotomy. He is a father, a degree holding (and Master's Degree pursuing) Engineer, a teacher at Purdue Cal, a writer, a brother and an amazing friend. He has also devoted most of his life to the study and creation of martial arts. To call Chad spectacular would be an understatement. The best I can tell you is this: You know all of those crazy martial arts moves you see in the movies? Yeah, Chad can do them for real. And he has, time and time again. He's sparred against real life villains, thugs, groups of attackers and 3rd degree black belts and he has never, ever lost.

So on a cold and early morning, Chad, Buddy, my younger brother Daniel and I met in a basement and set to work. We hit it hard for 12 hours the first day and another 4 hours the next (for the second session we were joined by my oldest brother, Robby). After the 4 hour session we went to the location to film the scene.

Let me say this again:

No Experience + 16 Hours + Chad Celestin = Completed Fight Scene

And make no mistake, it is an intense exchange. Devin takes on 3 villains (played expertly by Chad Celestin, Robby Celestin and Daniel DeRousseau). The exchanges are mind-blowingly accurate and complex and it is easily one of my favorite scenes in the film.
The day after the scene wrapped, I remember Buddy proudly displaying the various deep bruises he had amassed from the sessions and the shoot. He wore them like badges of honor. And I remember being so impressed with the work and dedication he displayed, devoting himself for a few days to an art form he had no experience with, and executing that art perfectly on camera.

A few months later, while reviewing the final edit of the scene with a friend, I was reminded that (a) Buddy had never done anything like this before, (b) Indie Films don't often feature martial arts exchanges, (c) we had very little time to pull this together and (d) we had no mats, pads or stunt-men at our disposal. I was then asked if I had a Plan B in case the scene hadn't worked out.

My answer:

If you have Chad Celestin and Buddy Wayne Goettsch, you don't need a Plan B.



Friday, October 14, 2011

Never enough

I was recently asked what kind of story I was trying to tell with Victims of Circumstance. It was brought to my attention that, after reading the script and reviewing footage, there wasn't enough of a love story to call the film a Love story; not enough drama to call it a Drama; same thing with action and comedy. Basically, I was told that the story lacked a clear narrative and the pacing was inconsistent.

I've never been happier to hear words of critique.

When I set out to write VOC I knew that I wanted to tell a story that was as close to real life as I could get. In my experience, Real Life never has enough of the right kind of drama, love, action or comedy. Sometimes Life is painfully slow and suddenly, without notice, the pace quickens and multiple Big events occur in rapid succession, and then it slows back down.

That's Life. That's Real.

I think that as a result you have two choices: You can either resent the fact that there is not enough of the "good stuff" or you can take a breath and savor the snippets you are given, making the most of them at every turn.

That is the story of VOC.

If you are looking for a film that has a cookie-cutter Hollywood narrative, you're going to be quite disappointed. There are enough movies like that cluttering shelves and hard drives the world over. I was going for something unique, something that stays closer to true, something Real.

We are just a few months away from the day VOC premiers to the world and on that day I challenge you to open your mind and be ready for an experience that is far removed from the slick narratives you are used to. I challenge you to be ready to ponder a snapshot of Life in all it's painful, inconsistently paced, refreshingly inspirational glory.

Stay tuned, True Believers. This ride has barely just begun.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

For immediate release: VOC Movie Poster.

In this day and age, we are bombarded by visual images. We make snap decisions on whether to buy, date, pursue, or ignore based on first impressions. We are proud to present our first serious representation of Victims of Circumstance. This poster was photographed and laid out by Aaron Brown, logo designed by Matt Winecke, and features Buddy Wayne Goettsch as Devin Reeves. Paul and Mike have discussed at length the tone and message we wanted the poster to convey. 

Now it is your turn...

What do you think of the poster? What do you think Devin is feeling?
What emotions does the poster convey?

Add your comments below.

Thanks for stopping by.