Cooper’s ‘The Painter’ adds voice to child violence

Filmmakers DeAnna and Kevin Cooper

DIRECTOR KEVIN COOPER of Amarok Productions, who directed the family dog film I Heart Shakey, arguably the first stereoscopic 3D feature made in Chicago, tackles the tough subject of how violence robs children of their innocence. 

Cooper, a Columbia College faculty member, is shooting the 10-minute youth violence drama The Painter Jan. 22-26 at the school’s state-of-the-art Media Production Center, where he coordinates the producing concentration.

The Painter is the story of a 12-year old boy (Ron Caldwell, Flight) an artist whose secret artwork reveals a tragic take on how violence affects children.

Actor Ron Caldwell

Starring children Clayton Moten, Deonta Nabors, Jordan Ingram and Mikiel Montagano, from local schools; adults Rodney Welch, Marvin Gentry, Kelly Owners and Ben White.

In explaining why he felt compelled to act, Cooper says, “Children in neighborhoods where there is regularly violence do not have a choice but to live in a ‘war zone’ fighting for survival and often being scarred along the way. 

“I feel a responsibility to stand up and add my voice to those trying to help the most innocent of the victims by bringing awareness to this problem.” 

Writer/director Cooper is producing with his wife DeAnna Cooper, in association with the nonprofits UCAN and Youth Guidance.  Producer is TJ Lee; line producer, Jacqui “JJ” Ingram; DP, Adam Jones; editor, Arthur Swidzinsi; sound Scott Palmer.

The film was commissioned by entrepreneur Emil Arab and funded partly by Columbia College’s Faculty Development Grant.  Distribution will be film festivals and youth and inner city organizations. 

Ted LevineVETERAN ACTOR TED LEVINE (Shutter Island, American Gangster, Monk) stars in writer/director Hunter Adams debut feature-length gothic thriller, Dig Two Graves, now shooting in unique scenic and historic locations and the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois.

It’s about a girl who is offered the chance to bring back her lost brother if she takes another life. 

“One part gothic thriller, one part black comedy and one part Dickensian mystery, Dig Two Graves dramatizes the cycle of violence that perpetuates itself over generations in a small backwoods town,” says Adams, who wrote the script with Jeremy Phillips.

“The title is a reference to a Confucian proverb that warns ‘When you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.’” 

It also stars 14-year Sami Isler (Home Run) as the girl; Danny Goldring (Boss, The Dark Knight) and Troy Ruptash (Tortilla Soup), and features Chicago actors Bradley Grant Smith, Kara Zediker, Ryan Kitley, Mark Lancaster, Dean Evans, Audrey Francis, Ann Sonneville, Bert Matias, Sauda Namir, Ben Schneider, and Gabe Cain from Downstate.

PJ Fishwick, Claire Connelly, Phillip S. Plowden and Jon Parker are producing.  Eric Maddison is DP.

A native of Wisconsin’s North Woods, Adams has written and directed two shorts, one of which, “Hollywood Beat won the 2011 Los Angeles Comedy Festival audience award.

Tirf Alexius

TIRF ALEXIUS of 4 Features Film Company is in postproduction on Lakay (Home), a feature documentary about his return with his brother, Remoh Romeo, to their native Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake.

Alexius, who directed the thriller Critical Nexus, is producing Lakay with Romeo, Hugh Grady and Macdanne Edmond.  Stephen Combs is editor.“Three years have gone by since that earthquake took 300,000 lives,” Alexius says. “Haiti hasn’t recovered.  Lakay is the reminder that Haiti still needs our help.” 

Alexius aims Lakay for the festival circuit this year. 

CHICAGO COMEDY VETERANS screen their work in “Sawed Off Shorts,” featuring Larry Ziegelman’s Little Man of Steel, cowritten with Colin Costello, Scott Smith’s Cheat Cheat Bang Bang, written with Rhea Bozzaccki, Paul Thomas’s Moratorium, and Ted Tremper’s Shrink

It’s Jan. 31 at the Logan Theatre, 2646 N. Milwaukee Ave. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 8.