In what has the elements of a movie in itself, a pair of non-pro filmmakers get together and turn the basic themes of a short story into an $865,000 crime-drama feature that will have its world premiere Tuesday, March 22 at the Hollywood Palms Theatre in Naperville.
“Precious Mettle,” starring Paul Sorvino (“Goodfellas”) is the first feature film of both Edmond G. Coisson of Our Path Productions and founder of the Naperville Independent Film Festival, and Leonard Brink, a former healthcare and software industries executive.
Coisson directed and co-wrote the screenplay, many times over, as it turned out, with executive producer Brink.
Based on Coisson’s years earlier short story, it’s about a police commander, Frank Walsh (Sorvino) who discovers he has another daughter, Judy, (Fiona Dourif), a troubled and homeless drug addict. At the same time, Frank’s best friend, Charlie, is murdered and his life savings of cash and gold are missing. The murder is solved but crime is not.
Naperville residents Brink and Coisson met when Brink entered his “small, non-commercial documentary” based on found footage during the Vietnam war,” in the 2012 Naperville Film Festival. “I wrote the script, hired an actor-narrator and an editor.” The doc was a nominee for Best Documentary “and the experience was gratifying.”
During a subsequent visit, when Coisson told Brink about his proposed low-budget “Precious Mettle,” Brink asked to read the script, which he found “both unique and intriguing.”
That night, Coisson recalled, “Len called me and said that if I allowed him to help rewrite the script and have some creative control, he would produce the movie. He felt we should increase the budget and production value.”
Brink secured $865,000 for the production budget through an investor subscription offering and he and the Coissons dove into the screenplay — ultimately writing 53 versions of it.
“A major hurdle, from the beginning of the project,” Brink acknowledged, “was to build ‘evident credibility’, because neither Edmond nor I had ever made a feature film, and I had virtually no background and experience in the industry.”
But he quickly remedied that by diligently immersing himself in all aspects of filmmaking. “I even took online courses on crime scene management and consulted experiences on addiction,” Brink says.
The drama has a cast of 30 and co-stars Matt Bushell, Judy Dourif, Todd Bridges, Jodi Russell, Dianne B. Shaw, Dianne Bischoff and Michael Sorvino. Restaurateur and film producer Billy Dec has a small role.
A crew of 70 spent 18 days in 2014 filming in Aurora and Naperville. Ross Heran of was DP; Josh Schilling was first AD and Rebecca Weigold edited. Soundtrack score by Emmy-winning composer Mish Segal.
Going forward, the filmmakers are developing an audience contest to find the missing gold. They also plan producing PSAs about heroin addiction and work with local drug treatment centers.A theatrical distribution deal is pending.
At Hollywood Palms, 352 S. Illinois Road, Naperville. The Naperville International Film Festival will be held Sept. 10-17. Final entry deadline is April 11.