Michael Shannon set to star in Jim Sikora’s feature

Jim Sikora and Michael Shannon. Photo by Jim Newberry

ACTOR MICHAEL SHANNON’S manager Byron Wetzel has optioned Jim Sikora’s script for I’ll Die Tomorrow as a star vehicle for the Boardwalk Empire villain, Oscar nominee and sometime Chicagoan. 

Last summer at the Viaduct Theatre, Sikora shot a trailer for the film, set in the ‘90s punk scene, with actor Shannon fronting a band that included members of Pegboy. 

 The story stars Shannon as a terminally ill, washed up punk guitarist Wayne Sloan on the run with a drug dealer’s girlfriend.  They wind up on a nocturnal journey through Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

Wetzel is attached to produce with New York-based Elephant Eye Films’   (The Maid).  “I hope to be editing by this time next year,” Sikora says.  He has been working on I’ll Die Tomorrow for more than a decade. 

When Sikora and Shannon first met, Shannon was an ensemble actor at A Red Orchid theatre.  After seeing Shannon in the premiere of Tracy Letts’ Bug at A Red Orchid in 2000, he decided Shannon was the just the man to play Wayne Sloan.  

Sikora screened a preview of his Urge Overkill video Quiet Person at Beauty Bar in December.  It’s slated for broadcast next year.

 FILMMAKER STEPHEN CONE OF CONE ARTS  has completed casting key roles for his new feature Black Box, which he plans to start shooting throughout Chicago in February.  Josephine Decker 

Joining Steppenwolf ensemble member Austin Pendleton in a starring role is Josephine Decker, co-director of the documentary Bi the Way, and star of Joe Swanberg’s Art History and Uncle Kent.

Key supporting roles by Jaclyn Hennell, Alex Weisman, Nick Vidal, Dennis Grimes and Elaine Ivy Harris, with Maggie Suma, Hanna Dworkin and Matt Holzfeind.

Written by Cone, Black Box follows a grad student (Decker) and a group of undergrads as they stage an adaptation of a 1980s horror novel.  Pendleton plays the novel’s author who visits the production.

Co-producing with Cone is Laura Klein; DP is Stephanie Dufford and production designer is Caity Birmingham; all worked with Cone on his acclaimed feature, The Wise Kids, winner of the 2011 Outfest festival.

Casting by Pascal Rudnicke.

ILKO DAVIDOV IS EDITING Carey Lundin and Mark Frazel’s doc, Jens Jensen: Harmonious World, about the pioneering landscape architect and conservationist who redesigned Humboldt, Garfield and Douglas parks and fought to protect the Indiana Dunes from development.

Davidov edited Yony Leyser’s William S. Burroughs: A Man Within and is a founding codirector of the Chicago Music and Movies Festival. 

THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER TEAM of Etta Worthington and Ashley Simone and co-producer David Strzepek are into the production of the 1940s-style web cooking series Foodgasm.   Ashley Simone and Etta WorthingtonWorthington directs and her daughter Ashley Simone hosts. 

They’re raising funds on Indiegogo to cover current the cost of four more five-to-seven-minute episodes, as they seek advertisers and product placement to finance future production.

Strzepek, who has been in the promotions business, met Worthington while working on the feature Jamie and Jessie Are Not Together, and the two decided to team up with Simone on Foodgasm. 

Worthington describes the show’s focus which as both specific and inclusive. “On a show, Ashley may create a gluten-free, but flavorful pizza crust alongside a regular crust.  Or we may have a vegan recipe and meat lovers might not know it’s vegan until you tell them.  Far from dietary restrictions, we look at these lifestyle choices or necessities as challenges to make food everyone can eat and enjoy.”

Click here for Simone’s recipes and blog.

STEVE ORDOWER RHYTHM & LIGHTS posthouse has released Classic Moments in ‘Jubilee Showcase,  a DVD of highlights from the gospel music show his father Sid Ordow produced and hosted on Ch. 7 from 1963 to 1984. 

The disc features perforances by Andrae Crouch, The Staple Singers with Mavis Staples, The Soul Stirrers, Inez Andrews, and Jessy Dixon. Steve Ordower is also producing a documentary about the show. 

CHICAGO FILMMAKERS where I teach a producing class with Junko Kajino beginning Jan. 9 — and the Chicago Instructional Technology Foundation have launched the Chicago Digital Media Production Fund. 

The fund has a total of $50,000 in grants to be awarded to at least five locally-made online videos in amounts of $500-$10,000. 

The criteria favor style, social value, and appropriateness for young audiences.  Winner entries must be available for free online within a year of the award. 

BOOMSTICK FILMS’ John Wesley Norton and Jack M. Cohen host a Jan. 14 Holiday Party and Double Feature, with their films Spades (a thriller starring Alex Skuby, Juan Reidinger and Larry Thomas) and Doctor Spine, a horror comedy with Thomas, Reggie Bannister, Judy Tenuta, Charlen Tilton, Tiffany Shepis, Joe Estevez, and Michael Wexler. 

At the Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee, with cast in attendance. 

Send your indie cinema news items to Ed M Koziarski, edmkoz@gmail.com.