Cast announced for Zumbrota movie

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The local, regional, and national cast members for the original feature film “His Neighbor Phil” were announced at a Grand Unveiling Event on February 25 at the State Theatre. Area cast members include, from left to right: JC Koepsell of Zumbrota, Linda Kelly of Pine Island, Tricia Stiller of Zumbrota, Kristi Knudson of Rochester; and Bob Bird, Marie Marvin, Pam Potter Langley, and Ronda Anderson-Sand, all of Zumbrota. Not pictured: John Perra, Aaron Schumacher, and Joan Hendrickson-Hellyer, all of Zumbrota; Sue Johnson, Pine Island; Tim Balderramos and Logan Langley, both of St. Paul; Doug Petty, Mark Hanson, and Greta Herbert, all of Rochester; Lauren Langworthy, Wheeler, Wisconsin.

By Marilyn Anderson

ZUMBROTA – The local, regional, and national cast members for the feature film “His Neighbor Phil” were announced at a Grand Unveiling Event on February 25 at the State Theatre. Scott Thompson, writer, director, and producer from My Town Pictures, announced the names of four confirmed national cast members followed by the sixteen local and regional selections. More than 60 people had auditioned for roles in the film.

An up-to-the minute report on the financial contributions for the film and a request for volunteer community support was presented. Filming is planned to begin March 28 and conclude by April 17.

While some national cast members have been identified with contracts completed, others are still tentative. Professional cast members who are confirmed for roles in “His Neighbor Phil”:

• Daniel Roebuck, whose television credits include roles in “Matlock,” “Lost,” and “Glee”; film credits include “The Fugitive” and “U.S. Marshals.”

• Ellen Dolan, who starred in television soap operas including 20 years as Margo Hughes in “As the World Turns.” 

• Dean Sams, a member of the country music group “Lonestar.”

• Ashlee Hewitt, a Minnesota native and appeared in season six of “Nashville Star.”

• Stephanie Zimbalist was announced for one of the lead roles after the unveiling event. She is best known for the role of female sleuth Laura Holt in the TV series “Remington Steele.”

Before announcing the local and regional cast members, Thompson said, “Some of you have been told you have a part – you just don’t know how big a role yet.” Local auditions were held December 3 with callbacks in mid-January. 

Cast members announced were: John Perra, Marie Marvin, Bob Bird, Ronda Anderson-Sand, Aaron Schumacher, Joan Hend-rickson-Hellyer, Tricia Stiller, Pam Potter Langley, and JC Koepsell, all of Zumbrota; Sue Johnson and Linda Kelly, both of Pine Island; Kristi Knudson, Doug Petty, Mark Hanson, Greta Herbert, all of Rochester; Logan Langley and Tim Balderramos, both of St. Paul; and Lauren Langworthy of Wheeler, Wisconsin.

Besides the cast members named at the unveiling event, other community members will be incorporated into the final production.

Close to investment goal

It was just six months ago, on September 5, when residents learned of the possibility of Zumbrota becoming the setting of a feature-length film. At that time, Thompson gave an overview of his work and company and how individuals or groups could invest in his next project to be filmed in the fall or one of four projects planned for 2014. With positive discussions at two community meetings, donations and investments have continued to accumulate toward $85,001, or one-half the anticipated cost of the film ($170,000), to attain majority ownership of the film. 

An LLC was formed in December for the investors of the film. Paul Rockne, who is serving as the local manager of the LLC, presented an update. With the $1,200 added at the Grand Unveiling Event, $6,900 remained to be raised locally to reach the goal needed to assure local ownership. Rockne explained that for purposes of the His Neighbor Phil, LLC, an “investment” must be $1,000 or more to be a member. Currently, the LLC has 29 members. Contributions of less than $1,000 to the project are “donations.”

Story of “His Neighbor Phil”

Thompson described “His Neighbor Phil” as an emotional and heartwarming story with several great parts for the national and local cast. The story concerns Harvey and Mary, a couple who have managed the historic State Theatre in their community for many years. Mary has early onset Alzheimer’s disease, and Harvey brings musicians to play for her with the hope that she stays with him a little while longer.

While exact roles have not all been assigned, the writer/director said local actor Kristi Knudson will play the daughter of Harvey and Mary. The role of Phil could go to local actor Bob Bird, depending on which national cast members are added. 

In addition to Zumbrota’s State Theatre being featured in the film, many other local settings, landmarks, and individuals, will figure prominently in the project. 

With the aspect of Alzheimer’s disease threaded into the movie, the Southern Minnesota Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association will be assisting, serving as a consultant on the film. The group, based in Rochester, is holding a fundraiser for Alzheimer’s at Goonie’s Comedy Club on March 19, where “His Neighbor Phil” will also be promoted. 

Filming schedule and volunteers

Since filming will ideally run March 28 through April 17, Thompson has been asked what would happen if it snows? “Then we will have a winter film,” he said. Not all cast members will be required every day. The final schedule will be based on the national cast’s schedule. 

Considerable work needs to be done prior to and during shooting. Volunteer efforts will help hold production costs down. A wide variety of volunteer opportunities was described, ranging from providing food, housing, and transportation for the cast and crew to working as a production assistant. Specific examples included serving as a grip (helping the lighting director), assisting with audio ( holding the boom pole), and assisting with wardrobe and costumes (helping with make-up or hair). Shooting locations and in-kind donations in addition to investments are also still being sought.

To volunteer or to donate/invest, contact Ronda Anderson-Sand at 507-732-7830 or Pam Potter Langley at 507-732-7682. For the most current information and updates, visit the film’s page on Facebook.

His Neighbor Phil Steering Committee members are Ronda Anderson-Sand, Angie Gustafson, Dave and Pam Potter Langley, Bob and Connie Hawley, Paul and Judy Rockne, Jim and Sue Wedge, Pastor Jan Fischer, and Judy Lang.



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