L.A.-based “Funny or Die” website regular and Winnetka native Alex Beh is back in town as writer, director and star of his debut feature Warren.
The coming-of-age love story shoots “all over the beautiful streets and locations in Chicago and the North Shore,” Beh says, beginning the week of Sept. 24.
Working from his own script, Beh stars as a barista and aspiring improv comic fighting to win back his ex (Sarah Habel, Underemployed) and avoid the fate of his recently divorced parents (Jean Smart, Garden State and John Heard, Home Alone), “while also gaining the confidence to go after his dreams a second time,” he says.
“A lot of it came from working in coffee shops, in high school at New Trier and in college, and growing up on the North Shore watching John Hughes movies and The Blues Brothers,” says Beh, who trained at Second City, Piven Theatre, iO and the University of Kentucky.
Warren also features Andrew Santino (Punk’d), Nick Rutherford (Good Neighbor), Austin Stowell (Love and Honor), and Chicagoans Greg Hollimon, Bruce Jarchow, Mark Grapey, Tim Baltz, Bradley Armacost, Nancy Friedrich, Richard Cotovsky, Spencer Curnutt, Chris Meister, Cedric Young.
Beh’s then-girlfriend Jennifer Love Hewitt was previously attached to star in Warren before the couple separated last spring.
“The producers and myself worked very hard on getting the people we wanted,” Beh says, “and they fell in love with the script. It was a really cool process.”
Among the producers are Lettuce Entertain You restaurant empire scions Jerrod and RJ Melman, who own M Street Kitchen, a popular Santa Monica restaurant where the annual Windy City West party is held, and their sister, Molly – their first venture into film.
Beh was friends with the Melmans during their high school days at New Trier in the ‘90s, although they were not in school at the same time.
Beh is producing with Mark Hannah, Beh’s agent Dallas Sonnier of Caliber Media (Dark Was the Night), and Orian Williams (Control). His Watson Pictures partner Jory Cody is executive producer along with Donna and Dave Lyon.
L.A.-based Chistophe Lanzenberg is DP, and the local crew consists of production designer Merje Veski, line producer Vail Romeyn, costume designer Lizzie Cook, propmaster Holly Todd, and sound, Mario Coletta.
Working with the L.A. collective Brotally, Beh directed (and sometimes acted in) the “Funny or Die” shorts Coffees, Bus Stop, Babe, The Philosophy Teacher, The Car that Ran out of Gas and Sugar, as well as music videos for rapper Serengeti and commercials through Addict Films.
Beh says he didn’t know he could direct until he read David Mamet’s book, On Directing Film. He moved to L.A. in 2007.