John Heard stars in $1 million drama “American Gothic” from Breadline artistic director Paul Kampf

Breadline Theatre Group artistic director Paul Kampf is in post on his debut feature “American Gothic,” the $1 million 35mm Utah-shot drama starring John Heard (“Pollock”).

“We went from [finishing the script] to completing shooting in less than a year,” Kampf said. “I’m aware of how rare that is.”

Executive producer Robert Last personally invested a substantial part of the $1-2 million budget, and raised the rest from private investors through American Gothic LLC, a subsidiary of his Last Line Endeavors.

David Lewis produced with Robert Schwartz of Los Angeles, in association with Schwartz’ Wardenclyffe Entertainment. Casting director was Deborah Aquila (“The Ring Two”).

“American Gothic” shot for 24 days from March 5 to April 2 in and around Salt Lake City.

Kampf adapted the script from his own Jeff-nominated play, which premiered at Breadline in 2000.

“I wanted to tell a story that was a very harsh and truthful look at men’s relationships with their fathers and relationships between brothers,” Kampf said.

“I felt it needed a bigger audience. I thought initially to produce it theatrically on a larger level, but something told me it was a good story for film.”

Patrick Wilson (“Angels in America”) plays a man who reunites with his estranged brothers, Neal McDonough (“Walking Tall”) and Scott Michael Campbell (“Hart’s War”) to unravel the death of their father (Heard).

Kampf opened up the script considerably from the play, which included only the three brothers?he tailored the Heard character for the film.

“Working with John Heard was a wonderful experience,” Kampf said. “That’s a role that was never performed before, so we really had a chance to create and collaborate and argue.”

“American Gothic” director Paul Kampf

“American Gothic” was Kampf’s first film after 15 years in theater. “95% of the process was what I expected, managing people and egos, like running a theater,” he said.

“The other 5% was very different, in terms of how long it takes to get things set up, and how you’re working for the camera. I think I found a good balance, making sure we were capturing the actors’ work on film rather than halting the actors’ work for the camera. The final shot of the last day was a nine minute tracking shot, one reel per take, that allowed us to get the right emotional content.”

Kampf aims to complete post-production by early August and submit “American Gothic” to the Sundance Film Festival. “We’ll take it through the Sundance submission process, and hopefully the Sundance acceptance process,” he said. “We think Sundance is a great fit for the premiere.”

Kampf founded the Breadline Theatre Group 12 years ago. Six years ago Breadline opened its space at 1802 W. Berenice.

When he returned from Utah, Kampf learned that the building had been sold, and that the space would likely be converted back to offices when Breadline’s lease expires in 2008.

He’s planning to launch a capital campaign to build an arts center “where new artists can have a chance to do new work in theater and film and other arts.”