Local Movie Connections

University of Evansville alumni Matt Williams and David McFadzean (both class of 1973) started Wind Dancer Films in 1989, and were joined by Dete Meserve, president of Wind Dancer Films and UE 1984 graduate. Williams and McFadzean have an impressive career, creating and producing “Roseanne,” “Home Improvement,” and “What Women Want,” and now they’ve put Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, and Matthew McConaughey on screen in the April 27 release of “Bernie,” a dark comedy based on a 1998 Texas Monthly story by Skip Hollandsworth, who wrote the screenplay with Richard Linklater, director. (Linklater’s credits include “School of Rock” and “Dazed and Confused.”) A Texas mortician (Black) woos a recent widow (MacLaine), whose petulant nagging causes him to murder her. Putting on a charade to fake her still being alive, a district attorney (McConaughey) tries to put the Texan behind bars.

Blair Witch Project
One of the highest grossing independent films of all time, “The Blair Witch Project” has earned almost $248 million worldwide. Producer Gregg Hale, who was raised in Henderson, Ky., attributes much of the film’s success to his past. Hale, who as a boy filmed monster movies in the woods, later spent four years in the U.S. Army. His film-based past and military experiences shaped how “The Blair Witch Project” was created. Shot in the woods of Maryland, the lack of any visible villain created stress on the actors, forcing them to stop acting and start reacting.

“NOVEM,” like “The Blair Witch Project,” is a film about recovered footage. In 1973, nine college students retreat to a remote recording studio to write songs, but are never heard from again. Decades later, film the band shot and their nine (novem in Latin) recorded songs are found at a garage sale. The 2004 discovery takes place at fictionalized Harrison State University, filmed at the University of Evansville. Brad Kimmel, producer of “NOVEM” (Evansville native Pat O’Connor helped flesh out the story), made Evansville his home in 1994. The film has won several awards, including audience choice awards at the Sidewalk Film Festival and Phoenix Film Festival, and multiple awards from the 2005 Indianapolis International Film Festival.

A League of Their Own
Columbia Pictures took advantage of Evansville’s down-home disposition in the 1992 film starring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, and Madonna. The fictionalized World War II-era women’s baseball league took over fields at League Stadium in Huntingburg, Ind., and Evansville’s Bosse Field, home of the fictional Racine Belles. The then 5-year-old Justin Scheller, a Wadesville, Ind., native, played the bratty son of one of the ballplayers, and the film was shot at regional locations such as the Ribeyre Gymnasium in New Harmony, Ind., and a historic Henderson, Ky., home at 612 N. Main St.

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