Movie shot at WMU, K College debuts at famed film fest
March 19, 2010
KALAMAZOO--"Cherry," an independent film shot in Kalamazoo in late 2008 had its world premier March 12 at the South by Southwest Film 2010 Film Festival in Austin, Texas.
Produced by Matthew and Jeffrey Fine, the film brings WMU's main campus and Kalamazoo College's campus into sharp focus as the idyllic and traditional setting for the lead character to launch a college career.
The film's Austin debut quickly garnered attention from those on hand to review the independent films being showcased.
"The film is reminiscent of wry, poignant sleepers like 'Juno,' 'Lars and the Real Girl' and 'Little Miss Sunshine,'" said New York Times Reviewer Jan Benzel, who noted the connection to WMU and K College.
"One of the best little films at this year's SXSW has to be 'Cherry,' directed by Jeffrey Fine," wrote movie blogger Charles Ealy of Austin360.com. "Why's it special? Partly because of the performances. Partly because of the depth of characterization. Partly because of assured direction."
MTV News, which was on hand for the festival, previewed the film with an online clip and said, "There are some great movies playing there, including this one from writer/director Jeffrey Fine."
The bulk of filming for "Cherry" occurred during four weeks in late 2008. Filmmakers used the two campuses as the setting for the feature-length movie about a college freshman coming of age at an Ivy League university. Originally interested in filming on WMU's engineering campus, the production crew ended up using a number of additional settings, including Vandercook Hall, the Richmond Center for Visual Arts, Gabel Natatorium and Fountain Plaza. In addition, a full complement of movie production staff took up residence in an unoccupied wing of Eldridge/Fox Halls for 10 weeks while they planned and shot the film.
"We were attracted to Michigan because of the new tax incentives offered to filmmakers," said screenwriter and director Jeffrey Fine about bringing his story to life in Kalamazoo. "Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University provided the perfect combination of picture postcard-looks and high-tech facilities that our script required."
The film stars Kyle Gallner of TV's "Veronica Mars" and "CSI: NY"; Laura Allen, who has appeared on TV's "Criminal Minds" and "Grey's Anatomy" as well as the film "Mona Lisa Smile"; and Brittany Robertson of the television hit "Life Unexpected" and the film "Dan in Real Life."
"Cherry" is set in Providence, R.I., at a fictional school much like Brown University. Fine was originally planning to shoot campus scenes in his native Virginia, but when his brother and partner Matthew Fine visited Ann Arbor for an art show in summer 2008, he heard about the incentives Michigan was offering and they quickly changed the shooting plans. They looked at numerous campuses around the state before settling on WMU and K-College.
"We needed a school that had an Ivy League feel," Jeffrey Fine told the Kalamazoo Gazette. "The K-College quad and WMU's East Campus fit that description."
The film's main character is torn between his engineering major and his love for art. Engineering classroom scenes included dozens of WMU engineering students pretending to be members of the fictional robotics class lecture. WMU's Robo Bronco, a robotic version of Buster Bronco, also had a role in the film.
Dozens of college students from WMU and K College worked as interns and extras on the movie during the month of on-campus filming. Traffic was rerouted on campus streets, campus buildings were strangely illuminated and students pulled weekend all-nighters to work as extras.
The Fine brothers are working with officials from both campuses to bring the film to Kalamazoo for a Michigan premier this spring.
Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, firstname.lastname@example.org