“Scandal” stars to produce indie film here in spring

Actor/producer and now director Tom Verica

TV veteran Tom Verica turns his considerable talent from hit network television series to features, when he makes his feature directorial debut with indie “Building Bridges,” scheduled to film in the Chicago area next spring.

Verica is the actor playing Viola Davis’ husband on ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder,” resident director and co-executive producer on “Scandal” and a long-time associate of show creator Shonda Rhimes’ working on her current and previous shows.

Chicago-based executive producer is Ron Sapienza, who found financing from private investors for the under $2 million-budgeted project.

Originally, the plan was to produce the film in LA, “but after months of defining the tone of the film, we decided to shoot in the Chicago area,” Sapienza says.

Building Bridges” is based on the true story of a Washington small town engineer Ron Moore, who painfully rebuilds his life after his 14-year old son fatally shot his mother and younger sister and then committed suicide in 1996. 

Producing entity is December Films, a co-production of Moore, writer/actor Cullen Douglas, who wrote the book about Moore’s experience, and Verica. Douglas had approached him about possibly directing his screenplay. 

 “I was captivated about how a man could possibly recover from such a horrific tragedy,” Verica says.  “Ron struggles to find the way to bridge the disguisable gap between remembering the tragedy and forgetting it.  The idea of finding and falling in love for the second time in life is something Ron never thought possible. 

Co-producer is Verica’s “Scandal” co-star and co-producer, Steppenwolf co-founder/actor Jeff Perry, who brought in Steppenwolf Films as a production partner.  He says when he first heard about the project from Verica, who’d read the screenplay, “They inspired me and I had to become involved in it.”

Douglas, as Ron Moore, leads a cast that includes Golden Globe and Emmy nominee, Elizabeth Perkins (“Weeds”), a Goodman Theatre school alum; KaDee Strickland (“Private Practice”); Guillermo Diaz (“Scandal”); Steppenwolf Ensemble member Alana Arenas and Perry.

“To round out the cast,” says Sapienza, “we will draw strongly from Chicago’s deep talent pool and Steppenwolf Ensemble for all the remaining parts.”  Crew will be all-Chicago, except for some keys coming from LA.

“All those associated with “Building Bridges” film are determined to make the most candid and truthful film possible, he adds” “without the compromises commonly associated with a studio financed film.”