John Stimpson and his H9 Films has joined forces with Casey Sherman and his Fort Point Media, a film and television production company he founded with partner Dave Wedge. Their script Franconia Notch is loosely based on Sherman’s book Bad Blood that chronicles the real-life murders of Liko Kenney and Bruce McKay in Franconia, New Hampshire in 2007.
Set in the shadow of the fallen Old Man of the Mountain, two men lay dead on a lonely stretch of mountain road, while a third man remains standing with a smoking pistol. It was a spasm of violence that took only a few minutes to play out but left a community divided and searching for answers.
Franconia Notch is the riveting account of Cassidy Barnes, a reporter who must risk her life and face the demons of her past to expose the startling truth of the longstanding feud between Lt. Bruce Caughlin and a rebellious teen, Arlo Manning.
As officers rush to the scene, one of their own is mortally wounded, shot seven times and gruesomely lodged under the front wheels of a car. The driver of the car is dead with two gunshot wounds to the head and neck. And a third man, a shirtless ex-Marine, holds the passenger of the car at gunpoint.
When the press originally reported it, Arlo Manning was portrayed as a wild kid who shot Lt. Bruce Caughlin in cold blood during a routine traffic stop in Franconia and then tried to run him over. Lloyd Thurman, who witnessed Caughlin’s murder and subsequently shot and killed Arlo, was a hailed a hero. And Caughlin was a loving father and a model law enforcement officer who was tragically killed in the line of duty. But that was far from the truth….
Returning to her hometown and her childhood demons to unravel the case is Boston based investigative reporter Cassidy Barnes who exposes the underbelly of the real Franconia, where right is wrong, good is evil, and the truth is hardly black and white. With the help of Everett Brown, a first responder the night of the shootings, and Arlo Manning’s former girlfriend Jennifer Ward, Cassidy digs into the pasts of the three principals in this explosion of violence and uncovers a long running feud between Arlo – a troubled teen with a famous cousin, Olympic ski racer Keifer Gale – and an overzealous police officer, Bruce Caughlin, who ran rough-shod over the young people of Franconia. She also discovers a violent, drug induced and delusional “good Samaritan” in Lloyd Thurman, with a dubious military record.
Meanwhile, Cassidy comes face to face with the horrors of her own childhood that are inexorably tied to this place – Franconia Notch. Cassidy turns the story that was originally presented to the public on its head and exposes the real corruption and deception that was manufactured for political gain. In doing so, she allows the process of healing to truly begin for the people of Franconia.
Casey Sherman is an award winning journalist and New York Times Bestselling Author of ten books including “The Finest Hours” (now a major motion picture for Walt Disney Studios starring Chris Pine and Oscar winner Casey Affleck), “Boston Strong” (adapted into CBS Films’ acclaimed movie PATRIOTS DAY starring Mark Wahlberg), “Animal” (soon to be a major motion picture for 20th Century FOX) “The Ice Bucket Challenge” (soon to be a major motion picture for Netflix), “Bad Blood,” “Search for the Strangler,” “Black Irish,” “Black Dragon” and his blockbuster 2018 novels “12: The Inside Story of Tom Brady’s Fight for Redemption” and “Above & Beyond: JFK and the Cold War’s Most Dangerous Spy Mission.”
John Stimpson is a Massachusetts-based writer/director who is responsible for over a dozen feature films that have been sold and seen all over the world. Best known for THE LEGEND OF LUCY KEYES, A CHRISTMAS KISS, THE WRONG CAR and his latest comedy, GHOST LIGHT, which recently was recently awarded Best Narrative Feature at the prestigious Austin Film Festival, Casey and John are excited about their
collaboration look forward to bringing Franconia Notch to the big screen. “In a time when brutal policing tactics by rogue cops have led to tragedies across America, it’s a story that needs to be told,” said Sherman. “The place, The North country of New Hampshire, is really a character in this story… as rugged and colorful as the people who call it home,” says Stimpson.
The team is currently seeking funding and/or production partners.
Stimpson can be reached at: email@example.com and Sherman is at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequent IMAGINE contributor Hartley Pleshaw recently interviewed THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT’s director Robert D. Krzykowski and the film’s composer Joe Kraemer about their ties to the New England area and how their film came to be.
Over the nearly hour-long conversation originally broadcast on WCAP Radio 980, they discuss the mood of the film which director Krzykowski says is more Robert Altman than Troma Entertainment (though not without some pulp elements). The title drove the concept of the film towards its eventual plot and the story of that journey is fascinating to hear.
There’s a special guest call-in from our publisher, Carol Patton who gives an impromptu promo for the screening and VIP pre-screening party. There’s also a concise history of the Massachusetts Film Tax Credit!
Kraemer and Krzykowski bonded over their shared love of orchestral soundtracks from the 80s and 70s and Joe provides some great insight into the film composer’s creative process. Joe discusses how the soundtrack for THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT came into being through many artistic paths.
Robert Krzykowski then goes on to tell the story of how the film’s epic production team (John Sayles, Douglas Trumbull and Richard Yuricich to name a few) coalesced around their love of Robert’s cult comic strip Elsie Hooper. It’s a fascinating story in and of itself how some of the best independent filmmakers of today brought their talents together to create a story of true American grit with pulp fiction elements.
Definitely a fun and fascinating listen! And don’t forget to get your tickets for the screening happening on November 15th!
We have an extraordinary cover for this issue. You will also see that it relates to our back page and our cover story. Hartley Pleshaw interviewed both the star and director of THE MAN WHO SHOT HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT.
We’re excited about this film because IMAGINE will present a special East Coast Premiere at the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square on November 15th and much of the crew will be special guests.
The screening will be at 8 pm. Those tickets are $15 each and will include a lively Q& A afterwards with the Director Robert D. Kryzkowski, Academy Award winning “Imaginnaire” Executive Producer Douglas Trumbull (2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, BLADE RUNNER, A CLOSE ENCOUNTER OF A THIRD KIND), Composer Joe Kraemer (MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION) and special effects guru Richard Yuricich.
There will be a preliminary VIP Reception at 6:30 with the cast and crew members that are available for the evening. We will be taking photographs and our co-hosts Jan and Mikhaila Waldman will be with us along with their canine actor Silas Archer Gustav for photo taking and such. Silas plays the role of the young (played by Aidan Turner) Calvin Barr’s dog. The cost is $75 for the reception and the opportunity to meet the aforementioned stellar filmmakers.
THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT has sold out at every venue it’s been screened including Montreal, London, Strasbourg, and Barcelona. And we hope to fill the Somerville Theatre to the brim.
Buy your tickets now on our info page because this will sell out here.
You can’t tell a book by its cover, and, in that same spirit, it’s probably unwise to make assumptions about a film by its title.
A case in point would appear to be the new film THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT. For most people, a cursory glance at that title would lead to assumptions that the attendant offering would be an exploitation film, a likely product of a cinematic schlock house.
But looks can be deceiving. And to make any assumptions about this particular film based on its title would be a grave self-deception indeed.
The film is in fact a deep character study, accompanied by frightening and alarmingly relevant metaphors. It is indeed a horror film, but as much about the horror within as without.
Two of the people who created it explain what THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT is about.
The Director: Robert Krzykowski
This may be his first film as a director. But Robert Krzykowski came to the project—an original idea of his—with an enormous portfolio of experience. Robert was born in Albany, NY, but has spent most of his life (excepting periods in Hollywood as a screenwriter) in western Massachusetts, where he still lives. (And, at least in the case, works; THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT was filmed in the Connecticut River Valley town of Turners Falls, Massachusetts).
He began to attend UMass, Amherst, but early recognition of his talent, and demands for it, led him to become a professional in film before he had a chance to graduate.
But now, with this film, Robert has earned the ultimate degree accomplishment in filmmaking: the graduation to Director.
So, what does the curious-sounding title mean?
“It says so much, that it must be about something else. It can’t just be about that title! I thought that it was a clue to the audience that they could expect to discover another layer in this film.
“The initial theme that got me writing this was, I wrote the opening ten pages kind of the way you would start a James Bond movie. At the end of those ten pages, the hero killed Hitler. And then I realized, well, I have nowhere to go from here. That’s about as big as the script can get!
“But then I started thinking, well, Hitler was a monster; maybe (his killer) could go on to another monster. And who would that be?
“I got to thinking about Bigfoot: this kind of mythic, American notion of this fantastic creature against a human monster, in Hitler. I went back to the beginning, and typed ‘The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot.’ That became my mission, to kind of work my way towards justifying that title. And in doing that, discovering this really sweet, awful, melancholy character at the heart of this story, and exploring his life, and everything he’s been through.
“So, it’s really about the man in that title: The man who killed Hitler, and then the Bigfoot.”
A man who, if one can at least temporarily disbelieve the agreed-upon history that Adolf Hitler killed himself in his underground bunker, committed a supremely heroic act, but was and remains unknown to history. A hero who wasn’t merely forgotten, but was never recognized to begin with—until, of course, he was needed again. A character very much in the tradition of another movie genre.
“He’s a classic, American mythic hero. Not unlike a Western (hero), or even a (character in a) Japanese samurai movie. A lonely, singular hero, tasked to do something that only he is capable of doing. And in doing that thing, it isolates him even further. There’s something very romantic about that kind of character.
“The movie seeks to also break down and analyze that. Both in the way that we romanticize this type of hero, and try to make him all the more human in studying him.
“At its heart, (this is) a character study.”
The film also employs a metaphor.
“Hitler is spreading a plague of ideas throughout World War II. That plague reached a lot of people. And that plague in some ways continues today. And I thought, this other monster in the movie, the Bigfoot, he’s spreading a plague as well. He’s spreading a literal plague. The Bigfoot spreading a literal plague brings our hero back into the picture, to try to stop it.
“The present and the past echo each other throughout the film.”
And so, Robert Krzykowski had his idea for a film. Now he had to make it a reality. This was no small task, particularly for a first-time director making an independent film. It wasn’t easy.
“The project was twelve years in the making. We hit a lot of walls in the process. I was told ‘NO’ many, many times. I got used to hearing ‘NO’ a lot more than I got to hear ‘YES.’
“But, one of about twenty people would say ‘YES,’ and become part of the project. And usually those people were incredibly special. Sometimes, they were all-time heroes of mine. Those included John Sayles, Lucky McKee, Douglas Trumbull, Richard Yuricich and Sam Elliott. There was a realization that this was worth fighting for. It wasn’t going to be easy, but we were going to try to stick to the script and make the thing that we set out to make.
“As I realized that this was going to happen, that this production was going to get underway in the summer of 2017, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I felt very intimidated. I felt that no matter how much preparation I was doing, I could never be prepared enough.
“I knew the caliber of talent that was coming to Massachusetts to make this film. It made me work really, really hard. Once we got into production, it was really a matter of trusting all these great people who came around. And day by day, the pressure seemed to release a little bit. I could do more and more directing. I was a producer on the film as well.”
When it came time to cast the reluctant hero, Robert’s choice met his criteria.
“Our Casting Director Kellie Roy and I spent a considerable amount of time discussing who would be the right person to embody this character who has kind of this noble quality about him. I wanted somebody who could have stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting. (Executive Producer) John Sayles and I talked quite a bit about whom that might be. He came out of a meeting one day, and said, ‘I think that Sam Elliott might be a really great choice for that part.’ Sam’s name had been mentioned before, but it really clicked that day. We reached out to Sam about two years ago, right around Thanksgiving. He got in touch with me, we had a long phone call, and at the end of the call Sam said, ‘I want to do this movie. I want to be a part of it.’
Sam Elliott had just finished work on what has turned out to be the most acclaimed film of 2018, A STAR IS BORN. Thus, for the second film in a row, he would be working for a first-time director.
But unlike that film’s rookie director, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliot would now be working for a director who wasn’t an established figure in contemporary film.
“I think that showed a lot of courage on Sam’s part. It also shows that he does things because they speak to him, and because he wants to (do them). Sam explained to me that he never takes a project for the money, and never has. Through his entire career he’s done projects because they say something to him. He’s looking for something true in each project. And I know that that was something he discovered here.”
The Lead Actor: Sam Elliott
The face. The eyes. The mustache. And, perhaps, above all, the voice. In a world of increasingly
indistinguishable “celebrities,” you KNOW Sam Elliott.
And in 2018, you are likely more aware of him than ever. Now in his mid-seventies, Sam’s career has never been hotter. A STAR IS BORN is no doubt one reason. But that he could go from a very Hollywood project like that to an indie like THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT—with a first-time director, no less—says much about his versatility, integrity and fearlessness.
Such being the case, he appears to have been a perfect choice to play the part of the film’s reluctant hero, Calvin Barr.
“I certainly was taken in by the script at the very beginning, because what’s in the film is really all on the page. There was no way that I could NOT do this film. In terms of Calvin’s character, it spoke to me on many, many levels.
“The whole thing that he was in the military. That speaks to me. The generation that he comes from speaks to me. Love lost, unrequited love, speaks to me.
“This man who killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot. To me there’s such goodness in Calvin Barr. There’s not a lot of it in the movies today. We’re beset by all this murder and mayhem, in the real world and on film. There’s was something about Calvin’s goodness that spoke to me.
“And his sadness—the sadness that he’s plagued by now.”
Like Robert Krzykowski, Sam Elliott sees something of the classic Western hero in Calvin Barr. The hero who saves the day, but neither gets nor wants the credit for his heroism.
“It’s clear that when the FBI guys come, and he has the conversation at the dining table with them that this was never something that he banked on or looked for. Being in the military, it’s what came to him. He was one of those guys who just stepped up. There are a lot of those people out there today. They join the military, and they’re there to answer the call.
“That’s what Calvin did. But he paid a dear price for it. He never reckoned, I don’t think, on killing
people. He was never comfortable with that. I have no doubt that he killed numerous people, being in the war that he was in. I can’t imagine that it was just Hitler.
“He lost the love of his life because he went off to war. He just didn’t bank on any of that.
“It’s the stuff that so many of us, I think, take for granted. The sacrifice that men and women make when they join the military. The cost that comes with it. Today, they call it PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). Back in Calvin’s day, I don’t know what they would have called it. It’s as real today as it was back then, and it’s as real as it was in the film. It’s something to reckon with.”
Sam Elliott thinks that independent films do reckon with such issues, unlike much of today’s Hollywood
“The independent film world is a wonderful world to investigate real life in some ways. It just seems
to go so much deeper. There’s not a lot of money involved, not a lot of people in suits involved, trying to control the game.”
Robert Krzykowski kept control of HIS game, his film. According to Sam Elliott, as filming progressed,
the first-time director became increasingly skilled at his craft.
“I think that on some level, Bob might have been timid at the very beginning. A little overwhelmed by
it all, by the sheer fact that it had been such a long gestation period for his project. And then he had these incredible people behind him, the guys who stepped up. (Co-producers) John Sayles. Douglas
Trumbull. But after that, he just fell right into it. He was so specific. He knew what he wanted, and he knew how to go about getting it.
“He’s a collaborator, which to me is one of the things that puts him in the same field with Bradley
Cooper. Bradley is an incredible collaborator. And that’s the ideal situation for all of the creative
forces to be in.
“When you have a director who’s open, and who wants to communicate, and has a vision, and knows how to bring all the creative forces to achieve that vision together, then that’s the ideal situation.
By the time Sam Elliott had finished his work in both A STAR IS BORN and the Netflix TV series THE RANCH, his own situation was less than ideal. He was physically exhausted from his previous work, and wanted to rest. But Robert Krzykowski inspired Sam to take on the new project.
“I told Robert, ‘I want to come, but I just can’t make it now. I’m not up to it, physically or mentally. I’m not going to give you what I want to give you.’
And I pulled out of it. And he said, ‘it’s okay, I understand.’ We let it go.
“And then he wrote a letter to my agent. On an emotional level, it still gets me. This letter to my agent thanked him for all the time he put into it and for supporting the film, and trying to make it
work out. He wrote what a great representative he was for me, and that someday, we’ll be able to do something together. It was a long letter and well composed. Robert is a brilliant writer and speaker. He is a really smart, smart man.
“My agent forwarded me that letter. I read it, I thought about it most of that night. The next night I called Robert and said, ‘Hey, man, I’m comin’ up!’ I’ll do this movie with you.’
“It spoke volumes to me that Robert would thank my agent like that. I said to myself, ‘I just can’t let this kid down. If this guy really wants me to do this movie, I’ve GOT to do it!’ And I can’t tell you how thankful I am that I did.”
Sam Elliott is also very thankful that this film was shot in Massachusetts.
“For one, I was totally captivated by the countryside. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in more beautiful country, and I’ve seen some beautiful country.
“That rolling farmland and that valley right there in Deerfield was the most incredible country that
I’ve been in in a long time. And all those little towns! It’s mind-boggling to go through that country, and see all that breathtaking farmland and woodlands, and how beautiful it is. And this was in the spring and summer. It wasn’t in the fall, that everyone talks about.
“And the people were just as incredible. They were so friendly, and so welcoming.
“I loved it there. I want to stay at the Deerfield Inn again. I want to come back and bring my wife and spend some time.”
IMAGINE is sponsoring, hosting and presenting THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT at the Somerville Theatre on November 15th.
Jan Waldman claims she has entered her life’s second chapter when all of a sudden she turned fifty years of age. She had been an involved mom on all levels while her husband had a very busy career as an interventional cardiologist. When her youngest went off to college Adam Sandler happened to be filming on her street for GROWN-UPS 2. And she says, “I can’t explain it other than I got bit by the film bug.”
So owing her new bent to Adam Sandler, even though she didn’t work on any of his films, her next step was to register with all of the Boston casting agencies and her first work as an extra was on the Larry David film CLEAR HISTORY.
“Over the next year,” she tells, “I immersed myself in acting classes, student films, screenings as well as financially donating to many productions. It was a whirlwind, but it paid off. I had an acting reel within six months and a commercial reel within one year, thanks to the expertise of Becki Dennis Buchman of the then Talent Tools. To date I have over sixty film and commercial projects under my belt. My evolution has been rapid, maybe because I am older, why wait? My strength seems to lie
in commercials and TV hosting. It comes easily to me and I enjoy researching and conducting interviews. I refuse to use notes, so I go over every piece of information I can locate on the person I will be interviewing.
“My hard work paid off when I received two Communicator of Distinction Awards for Entertainment Plus, along with my coproducer and editor, Steve Spencer of SATV in Salem, MA. The two shows that received the awards told different yet equally important stories. Horses of Hamilton covered the long and storied history of the Myopia Hunt Club and how horse shows, polo and the Myopia Fox Hunts are a way of life in Hamilton, MA. The second award winning show is about the loss of cardiac surgery at Northshore Medical Center and the effects on Salem, MA. In 2015 I was featured on the cover of IMAGINE Magazine, chosen by publisher Carol Patton, along with thirteen other women over fifty who are making things happen in the film industry.
“I have also had the good fortune of working on the Emmy award winning TV show, The Folklorist (NewTV) with the incredibly talented Angela Harrer and Andrew Eldridge, for numerous episodes. My role as Mrs. Worrall in the episode, Princess Caraboo is one of my greatest experiences on set and this episode was the recipient of a New England Emmy.
“My newest evolution has me teamed up with my daughter, Mikhaila Waldman, together we have started an animal acting agency called Critter Casting (see their ad in this issue).
“My daughter came up with the idea after her German Shepherd was cast as Aidan Turner’s (THE HOBBIT, POLDARK, and BEING HUMAN) dog in the newly premiered movie THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal. We enjoyed seeing our pup in all his scenes and knowing my daughter was hiding behind trees or crouching in corners out of sight to give commands made it even more fun.
“In THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT, directed by Robert D. Kryzkowski, the casting call was for a German Shepherd to walk on a leash. That’s all!
”Upon arrival on set her dog was required to do some pretty complicated scenes, luckily he had been expertly trained to do all tasks required. And, they were complicated. The realization that a director would have a much smoother experience if they knew exactly what the animal is capable of on set or in a studio was immediately evident. Silas Archer Gustaf was much more talented and trained than the production knew and that played handsomely to the production’s benefit.
“….so our goal with Critter Casting is to access and videotape the animal actors with different stressors, to properly assess them. My daughter Mikhaila is completing her Master’s in Animals and Public Policy at Tuft’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and her animalexpertise is invaluable to our new agency.” To cross pollinate stories in this edition of IMAGINE, recently Jan and Mikhaila evaluated entertainment attorney Elaine Rogers’ horses and dogs for possible roles in future movie and commercial work.
Critter Casting is located north of Boston in Salem, Massachusetts. They are in the business of casting animals of all species for commercials, fi lms and print ads. If you are interested in submitting your animal to be added to their online database contact them for an appointment. If you are looking to cast an animal visit their website for instructions.
Even though there is much on her plate, Jan is still expanding. Also in the works for Jan is, “This past January began my journey as an author with an autobiographical story which will detail the challenges and successes of raising a child with a disability. I have a children’s book in the works about a German Shepherd service dog that is in the infancy stage but hope to get published next year. This has been a very busy five years and I look forward to my next acts with great anticipation.”
At times her success seemed too easy and other times it seemed way too difficult and not worth the hard work. She remembers, “When I started out I encountered much professional jealousy because it appeared I started and then was hired for many jobs without doing my time, so to speak.
“The one thing I maintain is professionalism. I worked against this by taking classes, reading, and working behind the scenes on productions, listening, learning every chance I got. If I was working a large Hollywood film I would sit quietly and watch every single move the director made, or what the Hollywood actors did or said. Most importantly, I try and give back or support others. I refuse to be one of those people that say, ‘Why not me?’ I think a better question is, ‘Why her?’ Then go and find out why they chose this actor or that actor. I believe in congratulating and supporting everyone in the industry. Competition only makes each of us strive to be better.
“What has made me stand out in this industry would be my neutral accent, I am from Minnesota, but do not have any accent. My good nature, my smile and my hair color. These attributes have been very beneficial in my commercial acting success. I am also incredibly driven and creative and this combination works to my benefit in this industry. I am a speed reader and this skill helps me tremendously while researching my guests for my TV show, Entertainment Plus.
In a recent article for a Boston online magazine, Jan was asked what the future holds for the Film, Television and Commercial production industry. This is her reply:
“The biggest threat to the film industry would be the stability of the Film Tax Incentive. Every year it comes up in the MA State House Budget and the fact it is constantly being reviewed makes Hollywood filmmakers hesitant to bring their big budget films here. Commercials are done within a short period of time, so they can move forward at a rapid pace.
It appears that actors now benefit from having a Talent Agency supporting them, which wasn’t the case when I started five years ago. I would like to see more quality Independent films coming out of New England. We have the talent; we need to make sure that all aspects of the films are top notch. Sound, lighting, acting, editing, the entire package.
For now the film tax credits are intact and have been for the last two years, which may speak to why we are getting so many TV series. A hit TV series and we know we have one and maybe four, needs and deserves reliable and dependable film tax credits. Just think of all those jobs a ten episode series creates.
You’ll absolutely not want to miss seeing the made in Massachusetts movie THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT starring Sam Elliot and Aidan Turner.
IMAGINE is hosting a special exclusive one night screening on Thursday, November 15, 2018 at the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square.
Special guests from the film will be present at the reception including Silas Archer Gustaf, the in-house star of Critter Casting who plays the young Calvin Barr’s dog.
Twelve years in the making, THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT’s screenings have sold out in Montreal at the Fantasia Film Festival and then in London, Paris and Barcelona. IMAGINE is very excited about this opportunity to present this film at its one night only Boston premiere.
Tickets will go on sale next week.
Standby for the upcoming ticket sale announcement!
About THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT
The story follows a legendary American war veteran named Calvin Barr (Elliott / Turner) who, decades after serving in WWII and assassinating Adolf Hitler, must now hunt down the fabled Bigfoot. Living a peaceful life in New England, the former veteran is contacted by the FBI and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to lead the charge as the creature is carrying a deadly plague and is hidden deep inside the Canadian wilderness.
Directed and written by Robert D. Krzykowski. Starring Sam Elliott as the older Calvin Barr in a riveting performance that critics say is one of his best. The film, which is Krzykowski’s directorial debut, made its World Premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival to rave reviews. Aidan Turner (Poldark), Ron Livingston (Office Space, Tully), Caitlin FitzGerald (Masters of Sex), Larry Miller (PRETTY WOMAN) and Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood) also star.
In addition to director Robert Krzykowski, the film was produced by Patrick Ewald, Lucky McKee, and Shaked Berenson. Executive Producers include Oscar-winning filmmakers Douglas Trumbull and John Sayles, Louise Lovegrove, Giles Daoust, Catherine Dumonceaux, Deborah Shriver and John Shriver.
John Stimpson, writer, producer, director, editor and more seen everywhere now.
We just never know what subject or story John Stimpson will be taking up next. He crosses genres from the dark to the light with engaging stories that he makes right here in Massachusetts. Currently he is one of our most prolific filmmakers pushing out movies about once a year. Movies that get picked up and that get seen.
GHOST LIGHT, John Stimpson’s haunted comedy about a misfit Shakespearean troupe who unleashes the notorious curse of Macbeth, premiered at the LA Film Festival September 22nd. The film is repped by CAA and the filmmakers have high hopes for a good sale coming out of the premiere.
Written and produced by Stimpson and veteran producer, Geoffrey Taylor under the Worcester based H9 Films shingle, the film was shot last fall in Groton and Concord. “It’s a Massachusetts film through and through,” said Stimpson. The story takes place in the Berkshires, and had a crew entirely based out of New England. Key collaborators included Director of Photography Terrence
Hayes, Production Designer Chad Detwiller, Costume Designer Joanna Murphy, UPM Luke Ramsey and composer Ed Grenga.
The film stars Roger Bart (THE PRODUCERS, A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS), Tom Riley (Da Vinci’s Demons, Dark Heart), Shannyn Sossamon (SLEEPY HOLLOW, A KNIGHT’S TALE), Danielle Campbell (THE
ORIGINALS, FAMOUS IN LOVE), Scott Adsit (30 Rock, BIG HERO 6), Carol Kan (UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT, TAXI), and Cary Elwes (THE PRINCESS BRIDE, ROBIN HOOD MEN IN TIGHTS). GHOST LIGHT is the first film Elwes and Carol Kane have appeared in together since THE PRINCESS BRIDE.
The film also stars several local actors including, Caroline Portu, Alex Portenko, Liliane Klein, Zele Avradopoulos, Ken Cheeseman, Maureen Keiller and Mary Callanan. Julie Arvedon Knowlton of Slate Casting handled the local casting.
GHOST LIGHT centers around the crazy superstitions of the theatre,” said Stimpson. When a disgruntled understudy (Tom Riley) throws caution to the wind and deliberately utters the forbidden name of the “Scottish Play” on stage the curse of the Bard’s witches begins to reveal itself and the production falls further and further into chaos. “We may have been tempting fate ourselves,” Stimpson explains. “Carol Kane was very concerned that we were in fact saying the name of the play repeatedly during our shooting. I convinced her that our set was actually a converted barn and not a theatre which made us immune to the curse.” Kane plays, Madeline Styne the troupe’s Grande Dame. “She is an absolute treasure and a comic genius. What a joy she was to work with,” commented Stimpson.
Roger Bart and Stimpson go way back. They sang in a bar on Martha’s Vineyard together when they were in college. Bart won a Tony award for his portrayal of Snoopy in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” and is
also known for singing the role of Hercules in the 1997 Disney fi lm. “I reached out to Roger first. I thought he’d be wonderful in the role of Henry Asquith, the long suffering director of Shakespeare on Wheels,” said Stimpson. “I knew back in the 80’s at the Seafood Shanty in Edgartown that Roger had something special. It’s been so fun to follow his career from afar and now to finally have the chance to work together.”
Stimpson and co-writer and producer GeoffTaylor began the process of bringing GHOST LIGHT to the screen over two years ago. Talking about projects at a Red Sox game, Stimpson pitched the idea for GHOST LIGHT to Taylor and the partnership was launched. Taylor who produced many projects with Paul Mazursky including DOWN AND OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS and MOSCOW ON THE HUDSON, moved back from Los Angeles to Concord, MA to raise his family in 2011.
Post production on the film was all done locally as well. Stimpson cut the film in his Worcester office, special effects (of which there are many) were done by Sandbox VFX in Pittsfield, Chris Anderson mixed at The Outpost at WGBH and Rob Bessette color timed the fi lm at Finish. “What a great
collaboration it was,” says Stimpson. “And a great example of a local project born and bred here in Massachusetts and made possible by the Mass Film Tax Credit.”
Congratulations to John and the GHOST LIGHT team (cast and crew) for the film’s acceptance at the LA Film Festival. And, just added before we go to press at the Woodstock Film Festivals where tickets are
Now we’ll be waiting to fi nd out what will John Stimpson, a valued and treasured Massachusetts filmmaker, be producing next.
Our cover story this month looks at how Dennis Serpone became an executive producer for the film SWEENEY KILLING SWEENEY and how that experience caused the film bug to bite. He discovered it took his whole life to discover what he does best. And that’s working with productions to raise money for them.
I hope you enjoy reading about his journey and how meeting certain people who served as stepping stones over a substantial period of time created this new opportunity. He discovered a lot of things about himself and he loved meeting the actors and comedians in SKS movie.
Now he is looking for more opportunities to exercise his new found skills. Our cover photo was captured by Carolyn Ross Photography in the picturesque lobby of The Charles Hotel in Harvard
Square. The cover design is by IMAGINE’s Design Editor Monique Walton.