Wind, Reel, and Print
With the right script, a knowledgeable director, a creative cast and crew, and a dedicated pool of community support, a successful comedy, science fiction, or western movie can be filmed at an unconventional location. Meet three local filmmakers who recently put their movies in the can in Evansville.
Writer/Director: Michael Rosenbaum; Producer: Kim Waltrip; Co-Producers: Eric Rosenbaum, Bradley Stonesifer, and Sandy S. Solowitz
After an unsatisfying acting career in Hollywood, main character Jim Owens (Michael Rosenbaum) is in desperate need of a getaway. Eager to attend his 15-year high school reunion, Owen retreats to his small, Midwestern hometown in Indiana. Back on the set of his old life, the 30-something-year-old creates a bit of chaos in this endearing, comedic, often brash tale of a man’s quest for happiness, leading his buddies on a journey of revenge against their abusive high school principal and reconnecting with an old high school flame, Lori, played by science fiction television star Morena Baccarin. Rated R, the film’s consistent flow of sophomoric humor creates a wealth of golden comedic, and sneakily sentimental moments, with star comedians Nick Swardson, Harland Williams, Sarah Colonna, and Isaiah Mustafa. Even singer/songwriter Richard Marx of 1980s top single fame hung out with the cast during filming, shooting a short cameo and offering some of his best songs for the film.
Writer, director, and leading actor, Rosenbaum wore many hats in the production of “Old Days,” expected to premier in April 2013. Known for his seven-year stint as Lex Luthor in the Superman-inspired television series “Smallville,” a leading role in Touchstone Pictures’ comedy “Sorority Boys,” and a role in Touchstone’s “Bringing Down the House,” the 40-year-old Newburgh, Ind., native is adding to an already impressive Hollywood resume with his new film. Collaborating with producer Kim Waltrip — who produced the newly-released movie “Hit & Run,” featuring Rosenbaum and starring Kristen Bell, Dax Shepard, Bradley Cooper, and Tom Arnold — Rosenbaum brought a bit of Los Angeles glamour to his hometown, where he and his 82-member cast and crew spent 22 days filming from March 12 to April 2.
“Michael could rule the world,” says Waltrip. “And maybe we’d all laugh more if he did. He’s smart, dedicated, and his work ethic is unstoppable. He’s a realist. It’s very difficult for a director to ‘cut’ his or her baby, but Michael knows that a comedy can’t be too long. This makes him a smart director and one that producers and distributors will want to work with over and over again.”
Evansville Living: Based loosely on your life growing up in Newburgh, why was it so important to shoot “Old Days” in your hometown?
Michael Rosenbaum: The reason I chose to shoot in Indiana is because it’s beautiful. I just felt like the times I had at certain locations couldn’t be recreated in LA. That’s why I wanted to film at my old high school (Castle High School in Newburgh), my old friend’s house, or my sister’s house; these locations have a lot of meaning to me. Some of the things that happened in the movie are somewhat true events, but I think it’s more of an essence of events that happened.
EL: What was the atmosphere on set like?
Rosenbaum: It was four weeks of camp. When you’re shooting a low-budget movie in a small town, you have to goof on each other. I told every cast member that if they were coming to do this movie, they were coming to laugh, to have a good time, and to work. A lot of times, big studio movies give each actor their own trailer. We didn’t have the money to do that so we got two trailers — one for the actresses and one for the actors. Coincidentally, it actually helped the film. I think the characters bonded so quickly by being piled up in one trailer. Harland Williams, who plays the character Skunk, would constantly have a game of Catch Phrase going on. It was a constant party. A lot of sophomoric humor; a lot of fart jokes and pranks. Sometimes I would walk out with no clothes on and say, “Hey, guys, have you seen my wardrobe?” Everyone was trying to one up each other. It was a riot.
EL: Forty-six members of your cast and crew were from the Evansville area; the rest primarily came from LA. Did you worry they wouldn’t share in your enthusiasm of filming in a small town?
Rosenbaum: Yes, I was worried. I love this town, but didn’t know if other people would. Are they really going to enjoy a Pizza King stromboli or Noble Roman’s breadsticks as much as I do? Are the hotels nice enough? In the end, all of the actors thought this was the best time of their life. I could speak for 95 percent of them. I think this was a getaway. That’s why I wanted to get in this business to begin with, to work with my friends and to laugh. I think a lot of times actors are concerned with so many other things that they forget to do that. It’s hard to just be yourself and let go and remember why you came there in the first place, and I think that’s what this movie allowed. When we got back to LA we didn’t want to let it go. I think we all went into a little depression.
EL: What was your goal with the film?
Rosenbaum: We wanted to step outside of the comfort zone. We didn’t want to make a movie that everyone has seen a million times. We wanted to make a fun, lighthearted, cheesy, raunchy comedy and we didn’t want anyone to ask questions, we just wanted to do it our way. When you do a studio movie you have to deal with 20 producers and you never can do what you really want. They always want it to be the Hollywood ending, and we don’t have a Hollywood ending in this movie. We’ve got a pregnant woman taking shots of whiskey in a bar.
EL: Would you consider filming in your hometown again?
Rosenbaum: I was surprised with how nice the people in Evansville and Newburgh were to us. They didn’t even know us, but that’s Midwestern mentality. It’s not really like that in Hollywood. Everyone wanted to help. I hope we get to do another one there.