Chicago-made ‘Musician’ wins big at Vero Beach

Anne Harris and Reese Harley in 'The Musician'

Anne Harris and Reese Harley in ‘The Musician’

Mark Schimmel’s
musical fantasy
drama enhances
Florida film fest
with the sounds
of Chicago

Filmmaker Mark Schimmel felt that he and co-producer Normann Pokorny had created something very special after they premiered The Musician at the Midwest Independent Film Festival’s annual Midwest Shorts program in March.

Last week, it won the Grand Jury Award at the Vero Beach Wine & Film Festival.

The Musician is a fanciful story that takes viewers on a journey of passion, forgiveness, and empowerment. Starring musician Anne Harris and newcomer Reese Harley, the ten-minute narrative short film begins with a street performer whose violin is stolen by a street urchin.

The act sets off a series of events that combine sights, sounds, and magic in a meticulously choreographed series of scenes filmed on-location throughout Chicago. The climax celebrates the connection and inspiration of mentorship and music.



Behind the scenes
The Musician is the first script written by Mark Schimmel, who also produced and directed the film.

Mark Schimmel
Mark Schimmel

Schimmel’s inspiration came from a musical documentary he shot in 2014, Sweet Home Chicago, featuring an unknown Crystal Bowersox. While researching for the film, he learned about a handful of famous musicians like Yo Yo Ma who pose as buskers, and knew he had a story to tell.

Schimmel confronted an even greater challenge while casting the film. He needed to find an actor who could play or a musician who could act. He was guided by the editor Mark Voss to the renowned Anne Harris, an American singer, songwriter, violinist, recording artist and actress based in Chicago, Illinois.

Harris has independently produced and released six studio albums on her record label, Rugged Road Records.

After Anne agreed to the role, Reese Harley’s mother began following Schimmel on Instagram. The two eventually connected, and when Schimmel met her daughter, he knew that she was right for the role.

To complement the ensemble, Schimmel worked with vendors such as Keslow Camera and seasoned crewmembers like DP Bill Nielsen and Gaffer Tom Ciciura. He also consulted with the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Chicago Film Office, and will forever show gratitude for their guidance and assistance.

Anne Harris, Bill Nielsen, Paul DeMarte, Mark Voss, and Mark Schimmel filming a scene on a Chicago Water Taxi

Music video
In addition to the ten-minute short film, Schimmel also edited a music video, shot specifically for Anne Harris featuring her track from the film, “Hymn for Her.” This portion of the project was shot primarily on a Wendella Boat on the Chicago River.



Award winner
Besides taking home the prestigious Jury Award for Dramatic Short at The Vero Beach Wine and Film Festival, The Musician won the Barrington Shorts Grand Prize, screened at Patrick Lives On Chicago Film Showcase, and earned honorable mentions at the Queen Palm Beach and Vegas Movie Awards.

According to Schimmel there are dozens of festivals that may choose The Musician as part of their Official Selection.

“I made the film as a story to share with a movie going audience,” he says. “I wanted to create a film for all ages that shows the positive and giving side of human nature. Even though the film is a great calling card for future work and hopefully a chance to direct episodic TV, the motive was to create something beautiful. Being curated and recognized by The Vero Beach Wine and Film Fest and other is an unexpected honor for all of the cast and crew that worked so hard on the film.”

For further information please visit or contact Mark at

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