Michigan’s Purple Rose comes here in June to produce $1 million feature

“Dee Dee Rutherford,” the third film from Bob Brown and Jeff Daniels’ Purple Rose Films, shoots here in June. “Dee Dee” is a comedy about the black sheep of a blue blood family who is cut loose by her tight-laced father and must find a way to survie on her own. Brown said he was in talks with prominent actors to play the two leads.

Producer Brown and writer/director/actor Mike Meiners raised the under-$1 million budget from private investors, through Purple Rose and Meiners’ Cinemetro Films. They’re working under the diversity clause of SAG’s modified low budget agreement. David Blood (“Southside,” “Flying,” “Kwik Stop,”) is shooting on 35mm for four weeks beginning June 2.

“Dee Dee” is Michigan-based Brown’s first film that does not involve Daniels, who was writer/director/star of Purple Rose pictures “Escanaba in da Moonlight” (2001) and “Supersucker” (2003). Brown self-distributed both films in Midwest theatrical runs through Purple Rose subsidiary PRF Entertainment. “Escanaba” broke Michigan box office records Super Bowl weekend and earned a substantial profit, but “Supersucker” tanked and disappeared in a few weeks.

“Jeff and I were disappointed with the acceptance of ‘Supersucker’ and we did some introspection,” Brown recalled. “Jeff said ‘I need to go get my mug back on the screen so people don’t forget about me as an actor.’ I said ‘I’m gonna keep going.'”

Brown and Meiners aim for a theatrical release for “Dee Dee” but are prepared to self-distribute. “We told investors that was Plan B,” Brown said. “The film will get on the screen, whether it’s through Sony Pictures Classics or Miramax, or through PRF. For me it’s about telling the stories that I want to tell, and staying in the Midwest to tell them, providing that opportunity to people who choose to stay here and make a living at it.”

Brown has three more features in development through his own Charity Island Pictures: the suspense thriller “Growing Up Mackinack,” slated to shoot this fall, and “The Bass Master,” the true story of Bryan Kerchal, the only amateur fisherman ever to win the Bass Masters Classic, to shoot in 2005. Both films will lens in Michigan.

Brown met Meiners at the 2002 IFP/Chicago conference and Flyover Zone Film Festival, where Meiners won best comedy short for his film “Diet,” and Brown screened “Supersucker” and was a penlist.

“‘Diet’ was a wonderful film, very funny, and based on the strength of that short I threw my hat in the ring to produce Mike’s film,” Brown said.

Meiners was onstage at Improv Olympic for three years, performing alongside Saturday Night Live stars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Last year he directed “Roommate Wanted,” the fastest play to turn a profit in the history of the Theatre Building.

“Dee Dee Rutherford’s” production designer is Larry Lundy. O’Connor is casting in Chicago, Lindsay Chag in Los Angeles. The production office is at 2817 N. Oakley. Call 773/276-4705 or see www.thehuntandthekill.com.

– by Ed M. Koziarski, edk@homesickblues.com