Independent Production Roundup

MICHAEL OJEDA’S debut feature “Lana’s Rain” will be released Jan.18 on DVD by Chatsworth, Calif.-based Image Entertainment. Oksana Orlenko, who won best actress at the 2003 Milan International Film Festival for her role, stars as a Bosnian Croatian refugee who is lured into prostitution by her brother (Nickolai Stoilov) in Chicago.

Joel Goodman produced the $215,000 “Lana’s Rain” through his and Ojeda’s Reigning Pictures. The picture shot in Chicago and Croatia between 1999 and 2001.

Producers rep David Sikich of John Iltis and Associates orchestrated a limited theatrical release through his ISA Releasing after a deal with distributor Harmony Gold fell through. “Lana’s Rain” opening at the Music Box Theatre last February.

The DVD will feature commentary by Ojeda, Goodman and Orlenko. See

Travis Estes (left) and Zack Thomas in “Sword of Hearts”

DAVID SCHMIDT of Sword and Cloak Productions has wrapped his 15-minute short “The Lovecraft Syndrome,” a thriller about a grad student haunted by visions from the writings of horror trailblazer H.P. Lovecraft. “The Lovecraft Syndrome” stars Kathrynne Ann Rosen, Maurice McNicholas, and Amy Harmon.

Schmidt’s prior short “Grave Invitations” has won acclaim on the fest circuit. He’s preparing a DVD self- release of his debut feature, “Sword of Hearts: An Elizabethan Adventure.” See

JOE ELSEY and TOM PIWNICKI start preproduction in January on a microbudget musical comedy, “in the vein of the Road Movies with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope,” Elsey said. The picture, which stars Brandon Tesar and Jake Hames, is set to shoot in May with Mark Menet as DP.

Elsey and Piwnicki are also developing the HD horror comedy “Stay Dead,” which Elsey said is half- financed and which they hope to shoot in fall 2005. “Stay Dead” is based on their short of the same name, currently available on’s DVD compilation. Reach Elsey at

LEN AUSTREVICH of Bad Penny Films is in preproduction on “Chasing Robert,” a feature comedy about a “sports fan and casual gambler going through a midlife crisis.”

Last July Austrevich produced Michael Fitzgibbons’ romantic comedy “Where It Gets You,” written by Michael and Donald Fitzgibbons and Michael MacDonald, also for Bad Penny.

“Where It Gets You” is in postproduction, along with Bad Penny’s shoot of Mike Toomey’s comedy performance, “TV and Me.” Austrevich is also developing the sketch comedy film “No Governor Films,” “in the tradition of ?Kentucky Fried Movie.'” See

RICH SENG hosts the release party for the December edition of his “Cherry Bomb” free DVD series, which compiles Chicago filmmakers’ shorts and spots for local businesses. Dec. 7, begins at 8 p.m., screening at 9, at Inn Joy, 2051 W. Division. Email

IMPROV KITCHEN has begun hosting the Video Art Night screening series, Mondays 6:30-10 p.m. Screenings are at 7 and 9, with salon and gallery exhibitions ongoing.

Upcoming shows: “Ritual and Magic” by Sara Livingston and Barbara Sykes Dec. 6, “Animations and Meditations” by John Banks and Mike Bohacz Dec. 13, and videos by Improv Kitchen video artists and Columbia College staff Dec. 20.

Improv Kitchen is at 3419 N. Clark. Call 312/868- 6423, email or see

ENOCH MUHAMMAD is seeking all types of performers to appear on the live, weekly eight-part Ch. 62 series “Next Up Talent Showcase.” Reach Muhammad at 773-619-2455 or

JIM ANDERSON is developing a documentary about suburban horrormeister David Nelson. Email Anderson at