“Uncle John’s” LA star praises producers and script

John Ashton has the title role in “Uncle John.”

FORTY FIVE LOCAL ACTORS were recently cast by O’Connor Casting in two diverse, locally made indie films.  “Uncle John,” starring John Ashton, is about the mysterious disappearance of a nice guy and helpful neighbor in rural Wisconsin.

“It’s another great production from two local filmmakers with a great cast,” says David O’Connor, complimenting writer/producer/directors Erik Crary and Steven Piet.

After reading the script, character actor Ashton, came out of retirement to play the title role. “It’s the best script I’ve read in years.  I read it and said, ‘Man, I’m on board.’ I don’t think I’m going to work for anyone over 40 anymore.”

Ashton also called Crary and Piet “two of the most talented guys I have worked with in a LONG time.”

Mike Bove was the DP, shooting in Chicago and Lodi, Wisconsin, where Crary is from.  Crary had worked in LA under director David Lynch and lives in Chicago; Piet is also a DP and editor.

The cast of 20 includes Ronnie Gene Blevins, Alex Mofft and Jenna Lyng.

“ANIMALS,” was written, produced and co-stars David Dastmalchian who returned to the Chicago talent scene after five years of acting in New York and LA.

Loosely based on Dastmalchian’s personal experiences with drug and alcohol addiction, it’s about a homeless couple (Dastmalchian and Kim Shaw) struggling with addiction, who spend their time hustling money for drugs and at night they escape into the fantasy life they dream for themselves. 

Collin Schiffli directed the cast of 25. EPs were John Bosher and Chris Charles of Beverly Ridge Productions. Budget less than $200,000.

WITH FINANCING ASSURED for his low-budget horror film, “Bachelor Grove,” writer/director Ricardo Islas was ready to roll cameras when his investor abruptly got cold feet and pulled out of the project.  

Instead of abandoning the movie, Islas rallied the crew and talent, and with just enough money to get by, shot every weekend last summer.  Faced with the cost of finishing, the team got together for a Kickstarter campaign.

Their goal is to raise $10,000 to pay for editing, music, stock footage, VFX, et al, although in-kind donations would be welcome, too.    

The story is set in small, abandoned and reputedly haunted Bachelors Grove Cemetery, northwest of Midlothian. Here, peaceful Bachelors Grove residents suddenly start killing their families, possibly a consequence of a sinful act committed at the cemetery several years earlier. 

It stars Tim Krueger, Suzy Brack, Ned Ricks, Sheree Bynum, Joyce Porter, Richard Pryor Jr. and Jennifer Lemius. 

INDIE “CHRISTIAN MINGLE,” based on the popular dating site, was written and produced by actor Corbin Berensen through his Home Theatre Films.  Although the rom-com is Chicago-set, the romantic characters won’t be strolling along the lakefront.

The actual location is tiny Turlock, Cal., located 90 miles south of Sacramento.  The project, said the optimistic Turlock Film Commissioner, “is based on a similar successful effort in Shreveport, La., which drew $1 billion in film production in less than 10 years.”

“The Third Coast” is dedicated to the reinvigoration of locally-produced indie features   Send news of your project to ruth@reelchicago.com.