There are minimal props on the shallow stage. An actress stares straight ahead, takes a breath, collects herself. A lot is riding on the next few minutes as she prepares to audition for a role in My Brother Jack, an Independent film that is online to begin filming in New Haven this March. The mystery-thriller, written by writer-director Stephen Dest, a New Haven native, will be the first film produced at the new UpCrown Studios at 216 Crown Street.
Dest’s commitment to using New Haven as the backdrop for his film, with as much local casting as possible, will extend to his use of artwork by two local visual artists—painter Lawrence Morelli, who has a studio at Erector Square and is a member of Kehler Liddell Gallery, and found-object sculptor, Silas Finch who maintains a studio at 39 Church St. in New Haven. The work of the artists will represent creations of two characters in the film, but will also be the subject of a new exhibit at The Gallery at UpCrown Studios opening on Friday, Jan. 14, from 5 to 9 p.m. The event will be an opportunity to learn more about UpCrown Entertainment Group and will highlight ways for the public to become involved.
Unlike the work of actors who have may have only one opportunity to make an impression during the high-stakes casting call, the work of the two artists chosen for film has had a long time to seep into the director’s consciousness: “I have known Larry Morelli for nearly 20 years and his work and insight have always been an inspiration for me. His paintings are haunting and beautiful with a large scope for interpretation. Perfect for storytelling,” commented Dest.
The work of sculptor Silas Finch, whose art will represent the work of the film’s main protagonist and is a vital element in the telling and overall vision of the film, came to the director’s attention in an unconventional way. “His work first came to me in a dream when I made the decision to have the work of the title character, artist Jack Burns, represented by sculpture,” Dest said. “I dreamed of pieces that told stories of childhood loss but also spoke of beauty and salvation. When I walked into Finch’s studio, my dreams became a reality!” Finch will be creating a special commissioned piece just for the film, according to Dest.
The film itself, appears close to becoming a reality. Pre-production financial goals were realized last October through the unique online fundraising enterprise known as Kickstarter.com. As the work of making the film moves forward—selecting a technical crew, finding locations, auditioning actors and acquiring sponsors and investors—certainty grows that the directorial refrain of “Action!” will soon be heard on the streets of the Elm City.