First state-funded film wraps

Executive producer Brad Wells

Cheeseburger Films’ Brad Wells made history of a sort when the company’s urban indie feature became the very first movie to be funded by the State Treasurer’s Lights, Camera! Illinois program.

The feature, “dark”, written and produced by urban specialist Darryl Bullock, was already in production when the $250,000 loan arrived. Now the feature is in the can, ready for a local premiere in February.?

Wells is confident the loan can be repaid within the stipulated 18 months, backed by Iltis- Sikich as producer’s rep and 500 electronic press kits on their way to distribution companies.??

Written and directed by Bullock, an in-demand spot director with heavy emphasis on music videos, “dark” is a Catcher in the Rye-like coming-of-age story about a 20-year old African American college kid, who works as a bike messenger and struggles to make ends meet. ” He deals with demons and has to figure out what path to take,” describes Wells.

The real life struggling college student Jason Bonner nailed the part at the first reading. “He came in wearing a bike messenger’s outfit, with a squawking walkie-talkie at his side,” says Wells. A non-professional actor, “no agents, no head shots, no nothing, he had an absolutely phenomenal dynamic.”?

Gregory Cook did the casting. Janina Gavankar, who has a record deal with the Cash Money label, and Elizabeth Isibue co-star. Allison Hunter was the producer; Steve Morrison and Eric Lange edited and Patrick Yacono scored.?

Cheeseburger has another Lights, Camera loan application pushing through channels, this time for a $1 million feature. Wells plans on starting second Bullock film, “Gonzo”, in May. He calls it “a high-energy, international gambling caper based on the NCAA tournament.”

A pilot for a reality show called “Where Da Party At?” is finished, and a couple of documentaries are in the pipeline.

With the movies, commercials and music videos on its plate, Cheeseburger is ready to move from Washington Blvd. to 4,000-sq. ft. space on South Jefferson.?The current staff consists of four directors – two more to come – two ADs, a CD, two writers and two producers.