Female-led “Range Runners” films in IL this summer

Conceptual art for characters Wayland and Mel

Conceptual art for characters Wayland and Mel

Fatal Funnel Films
announces cast
for upcoming thriller

Actors from
Chicago’s hottest shows
to perform in inaugural feature
shooting in Shawnee National Forest
and nearby Carbondale

(Chicago — 7 May 2018) Fatal Funnel Films, an Illinois-based independent film company, today announces the complete cast and production team of their inaugural feature film, Range Runners, written by Devon Colwell (Executive Producer/Co-Founder) Philip S. Plowden (Executive Producer/Co-Founder) will direct.

Range Runners is the gripping story of a woman thru-hiking an isolated trail who runs into trouble when her pack is hijacked by two men hiding out in the woods, desperate and on the run. Now, stranded and left to fend for herself, she has a choice: crawl back to her normal life in defeat, or push forward and take back what was stolen from her.

The cast is led by Celeste M. Cooper (Steppenwolf Theater Ensemble, Chicago P.D, Chi-Raq, Sense8) as Mel, and also includes Sean Patrick Leonard (Chicago Justice, Cellar Door, The Life and Death of an Unhappily Married Man) as Wayland, Michael B. Woods (Chicago P.D., Empire, Sinister 2) as Jared, Carl Clemons-Hopkins (Hamilton, Canal Street, Chicago P.D.) as Howard, Tiffany Renee Johnson (Chicago P.D., Chicago Fire) as Chloe, Sarah Charipar (Empire, Chicago Med, Contagion) as Naomi, and Mariah Sydnei Gordon (The Chi) as Young Melanie.

Casting was managed by Paskal Rudnicke Casting. Periscope Post & Audio will provide post-production services.

The production team includes Abby S. Stevenson, Maggie Crane, Gabriel Steven Levi (Executive Producers) Christian Crocker (Producer), RoseMary Prodonovich (Producer), Christopher Ganze (Producer), Brandon Wiley (Associate Producer), Darryl Miller (Director of Photography), Caitlin Maldonado (Production Designer), Aaron Crippen (Stunt Coordinator), Richie Palys (Composer), Halley Sharp (Costume Designer), Timothy Farrell (First Assistant Director), Anna Zenner (Makeup Department Head), Catherine Woods (Special Make-Up Effects Artist) and Jon Musgrave (Location Supervisor).

Fatal Funnel Films will host principal photography in Shawnee National Forest and the Carbondale-area in Southern Illinois in June 4 through 21, 2018. Additional filming to take place in the Chicago suburbs.

Full details of Range Runners are available at IMDb.com here.

Fatal Funnel Films is an Illinois-based production company dedicated to the creation of independent feature films. Utilizing the increasingly relevant accessibility of digital filmmaking techniques and technologies, Fatal Funnel Films seeks to push the boundaries of filmmaking to tell unique and dramatic stories that will connect with audiences across the globe. Follow current projects on Facebook at @RangeRunners, Instagram at @FatalFunnelFilms, and Twitter at @FatalFunnelFilm. For more information, visit www.fatalfunnelfilms.com.

Celeste M. Cooper (Mel)
The youngest of four children, Celeste M. Cooper was born and raised in Joliet, Illinois, where her father was the warden of the Joliet Correctional Center. Celeste ran track for over ten years before she ditched practice one day during her senior year of high school to audition for the play You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. Celeste went on to study acting at Tennessee State University, followed by DePaul University The Theatre School, where she received her MFA in Acting in 2012. In 2014, Celeste received the “Most Promising Actress” award from the Black Theatre Alliance Awards. Since then, Celeste has worked prolifically, appearing both on stage and in film and television with credits in Chicago P.D., Chi-Raq and Sense8. In 2018, Celeste earned the distinct honor of being chosen as a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble in Chicago.

Sean Patrick Leonard (Wayland) Sean has been a professional actor for the past 20 years. With roots in Chicago’s theatre community, Sean has acted in ten feature films and over thirty short films, including his most recent award-winning short film, Rockabye, which he wrote, produced, and starred in. Sean’s television and film credits include Chicago Justice (NBC), Chicago Fire (NBC) and the Marc Forster crime drama, Machine Gun Preacher.

Michael B. Woods (Jared) Michael is a Chicago-based actor and has appeared in numerous film, TV and theatrical productions across the nation. He has starred in the docu-drama series In an Instant on ABC and performed reoccurring roles on Chicago P.D. (NBC) and Empire (FOX). Michael has also appeared in Showtime’s Shameless and the Blumhouse film, Sinister 2. A graduate of Chicago’s Second City Conservatory, Michael performed at the RedTwist, Raven, CityLit, and Metropolis Performing Arts Centre. Recent theatrical credits include his portrayal of St. John in Jane Eyre at Lifeline Theatre and his portrayal of Dominic in Inana at the Timeline Theatre. He is a founding member of the Eclectic Full Contact Theatre and his performance in their production of The Seagull earned him a nomination for a Jeff Award. Michael was recently nominated for another Jeff Award for his title role of Cyrano the BoHo Ensemble production of Cyrano, which premiered in Chicago at Theater Wit.

Carl Clemons-Hopkins (Howard) Carl Clemons-Hopkins is an actor, writer, and producer. Theatrical credits include Hamilton, Macbeth, Topdog/Underdog, Ragtime, Time is On Our Side, and Richard III. Film and television credits include, The Chi, Canal Street, and Chicago P.D. Carl’s first book, “Tijabab: A Fable for Grownups,” is about fear and freedom. It will be released in the fall of 2018.

Tiffany Renee Johnson (Chloe) Tiffany Renee Johnson was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. In 2007, Tiffany was accepted into Howard University and its Theatre Arts program. She was recently in the productions of Vanya with Rasaka Theatre, Race at Next Act Theatre and Coming Home with Erasing The Distance. Tiffany has also been an actress in several short films and commercials and has had the honor of recently landing roles on television including APB, Embeds, Chicago Fire, and Chicago P.D.

Sarah Charipar (Naomi) Chicago theatre credits include the world premiere of The Revel (The House Theatre), A True History of the Johnstown Flood (The Goodman Theatre), Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Fall to Earth, Mizlansky/Zilinsky, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, London, Broadway). Television credits include Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC), Leverage (TNT), and recurring roles as Dr. Deidre Grant on Chicago Med (NBC) and Empire (FOX) as Theresa Clare. She has also been seen in Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion and was also featured in Resurrecting McGuinn(s) as Dir. Vince Gaffney.

Mariah Sydnei Gordon (Young Mel) Mariah Sydnei Gordon is full of energy, fun loving, articulate, and has a big personality. She has been acting since she was 4 and is best known for her recurring co-star role as Andrea in Showtime’s drama series, The Chi. She has also performed in theatre productions across Chicago at the Goodman Theatre, Theatre at the Center, The Griffin Theatre, and The Gift Theatre. In addition to her love for acting, Mariah enjoys singing, writing fiction, participating in sports including: basketball, soccer, volleyball and track and field.

Philip S. Plowden (Co-Founder/Director/Executive Producer) Philip Plowden is no stranger to the importance of well-crafted imagery. A graduate from Columbia College Chicago, he co-produced the award-winning feature film, Chicago Overcoat, which received a domestic premiere on Showtime. In 2013, he served as an Associate Producer and the Location Manager on the independent film Dig Two Graves, which was filmed in Southern Illinois. Philip co-founded Fatal Funnel Films in 2014 with Devon Colwell and continues to work on a variety of projects, including 5 seasons of NBC’s Chicago P.D. and Steve McQueen’s thriller, Widows. He is a member of the Director’s Guild of America and recently directed the award-winning short-length film, Cellar Door.

Devon Colwell (Co-Founder/Writer/Executive Producer) A graduate of UIC in 2012 with a BFA in film, Devon’s extensive work in film and television; credits include The Wachowski’s, Jupiter Ascending and NBC’s Chicago P.D. In 2014, he Co-founded Fatal Funnel Films with Philip Plowden to produce original films. His writing credits include the award-winning short film, Cellar Door, and the upcoming feature, Range Runners. Devon was recently awarded 2nd place in the 2017 Scriptapalooza Screenwriting competition for original screenplay, The Regulars.

Christian Crocker (Producer) After graduating from Columbia College Chicago’s film program in 2014, Christian was hired as a script reader for one of Hollywood’s premier script competitions. He then found work on The Wachowski’s Netflix original series, Sense8. In 2016, he served as the lead producer on Fatal Funnel Films’ award-winning, thriller short film, Cellar Door. Christian recently finished work as the Travel Coordinator for the Steve McQueen heist-drama, Widows.

RoseMary Prodonovich (Producer) After finding success in stage management in theater and opera, RoseMary transitioned into feature films and worked on such films as: Little Fockers, Contagion, and The Dilemma. She eventually became Production Coordinator for network television shows including FOX’s Empire and Amazon’s Patriot. In 2016, she served as Producer/Unit Production Manager on Fatal Funnel Films’ award-winning, thriller short film, Cellar Door. Most recently, she worked as the Production Coordinator on Steve McQueen’s heist-drama, Widows.

Christopher Ganze (Producer) Christopher started his career in photography and would later transition to film and television, working on his first show, Burn Notice. He then found work on large-scale projects such as: Marley and Me, Dolphin Tale, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked, Tomorrowland, Chef, Magic City, The Glades, and Graceland. In 2014 Christopher was hired by rap mogul Rick Ross to co-write the feature film, GABOS. He has since been working as an assistant to an Executive Producer on Dick Wolf’s Chicago P.D.

Send your film news to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton, dan@reelchicago.com.