A solitary figure, head bowed, sits at a large dining table. To the sound of clapboards, the director announces: âLights. Camera. Action. Others slowly enter the room and take their places at the table. There is chatter among the group, then at one end of the table, two discuss when they decided to sneak out of the house; at the other end of the table, a couple argue, resulting in the girlfriend’s outing. “Cut” sounds, and everyone relaxes.
This is live action from a film shot in Chatham by Aaron Thomas and Clinton Robinson with assistance from Brian Crowdson, all Springfield film / video producers.
Crowdson, who has lived in Springfield for over 30 years, has owned his own business, Crowdson Creative Video Production, for 13 years. He studied at the University of Illinois at Springfield and worked as a cable producer before going on his own. âThere’s so much going on in Springfield and central Illinois with movie and film producers,â he says. “People are just not aware of the talent we have in the area and the many and varied productions – films in many genres and documentaries covering many subjects.”
Crowdson is working on several projects, including a fundraising video for Denim and Diamonds, the Chamber Gala video, videos from the Illinois Times Food Week and the First Night productions. His work took him to Chicago to film the historic African American Maxwell Street for the Maxwell Street Foundation and the Maxwell Street Blues Band. He is busy at work also on White heat / Black ash, a 1908 race riot documentary. And, it supports the efforts of the film directed by Aaron Thomas.
Thomas, 27, has been writing since the age of 17 and directing since the age of 20. âI have staged plays like Grapes in the sun and writes scripts, but this is my first film. When I studied communication at the University of Illinois at Springfield, I always had a passion for film. I decided to write a short film script. ”
Making a film is very different from making a play. âIn a play, there are no cuts or edits, and you can’t remake a scene,â says Thomas. âPeople know you are acting. In the movie there are cuts and edits, and you want to make it more real; people don’t want to know that you are acting but rather that you are talking to them in a more natural way. . ”
His short five-page script turned into 50 then 100 and required more than the two actors he originally planned to use. He advertised for actors via Facebook, and many responded, from central Illinois and some from Chicago and California. Some were playing for the first time and others were theater and film veterans.
The film is a psychological thriller called Don’t let me stay. The plot involves a group of college friends invited to a house by someone they haven’t seen in two years. Thomas wanted to shoot in a Victorian mansion. He found the perfect location, a wonderful Airbnb near Chatham, owned by Cal Robinson and Daniel Jones. When Thomas approached them for the shoot, they opened their house to the actors. The shooting ended on August 23.
Clinton Robinson is an assistant director and also runs his own company, R&R Film Productions, which has several projects underway. First, he oversees the hiring of workers, acquiring rentals, and finding locations for a movie shot in Detroit, although all of the cast are from Springfield. Called Look the other way, it is about police corruption and sexual assault. Filming will begin in October with a release date in late spring 2022. Another film in production, fully funded and distributed, is Shadow of the spirit, that Robinson wrote, produced and directed. The main character of the film is schizophrenic. âI have spent almost three years researching mental illness to make sure it is described correctly,â Robinson said. This film will begin filming in mid-November with a release date of August 2022.
The conclusion of a shoot leads to the next step: getting the film noticed. Thomas and Robinson are both planning a festival, showing their film, doing interviews and possibly serving on a panel at film festivals such as Sundance, in the hopes that their films will be selected. Maybe Warner Brothers? Netflix? Another possibility is to broadcast in certain cinemas.