Last May I had the privilege of attending the premiere for the film Field of Lost Shoes, and though it’s opening in theatres September 26, it will only open in limited release. That is unless you help, there is an IndieGoGo campaign to help bring Field of Lost Shoes to more theatres. From their campaign page:
We are currently releasing this movie in 24 theaters across the country in 20 markets on Sept 26th. We would love to expand this amazing feature film. The money we raise will go towards the marketing dollars needed to expand to additional theaters. Our current theatrical release is completely funded and moving forward. We need additional money to expand this theatrical release to more markets. The top number of people donating in a particular area will allow priority placement of a theater in their market.
Field of Lost Shoes is based on the Battle of New Market fought in Virginia on May 15, 1864 in the American Civil War. The film is a touching coming of age story that follows the experiences of 7 young cadets from the Virginia Military Institute as they (and their school mates) are enlisted into active battle to defend the Shenandoah Valley. The film has a stellar ensemble cast including Zach Roerig, Max Lloyd-Jones, Luke Benward, Nolan Gould, Jason Isaacs, and Tom Skeritt.
Like other IndieGoGO campaigns this one has great incentives to those who donate, including a behind the scenes DVD that is not available to the general public. The campaign ends in 13 days (October 4, 2014) so help spread the word and donate, and bring Field of Lost Shoes to a theatre near you. For more information on the film follow them on their official twitter or Facebook page.
In our disposable society it’s refreshing to find someone who’s trying to make a difference and is committed to seeing their project to completion regardless of the obstacles. Steven Grayhm is at the helm of the production company Astoria Entertainment, which is now in pre-production of their first film Thunder Road. Co-founder of Astoria Entertainment, a company he created with Charlie Bewley and Matt Dallas, “We saw this great opportunity to be a driving force in cinema and to get behind the projects and the stories that weren’t being told by the studios whether it was because of commerce or lack of mainstream popularity.”
Inspired by the stories his grandfather, who spent 5 years as a WWII POW, shared with him as a child. “I grew up with his private stories that he only shared with me about dehumanization, sacrifice, evil and triumph in the face of adversity.” Steven began writing the script for Thunder Road in 2003 at the beginning of the Iraq conflicts.
Thunder Road is the story of returning U.S. soldier SGT. Calvin Cole (played by Steven) whom we meet in present day Detroit as a troubled veteran who suffers from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and tbi (Traumatic Brain Injury) from multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Initially resistant to the VA system Cole must find a way to assimilate back into civilian life before he ends up dead or in prison. This film serves as his way of giving back to this generations soldier. After being met with much opposition in trying to create the film through traditional Hollywood channels, Astoria launched an ambitious crowdfunding campaign. While the campaign was met with many hurdles(including a change in crowdfunding platform) Grayhm never lost his determination, “there was never a plan b. We had a warrior mentality from day one: complete the mission or die trying.” Contrary to some dissenters Astoria didn’t have funding secured for the film prior to launching their campaign. “This is a VERY expensive independent film. To make the version of the film that we had always envisioned is costly.
Wanting to ensure the authenticity of the film Steven set out on a road trip with Charlie and Matt in 2011, “in order to tell an authentic story that we needed to travel across the country and sit in front of the people that are directly affected by war: active duty soldiers, veterans, their families, PTSD clinicians, neuropsychologists.” Being immersed in that world served to motivate Steven and reinforce the importance of getting a movie on this topic made. Two years later the boys again set out on the road to help raise both awareness and funds for their film. While both road trips had their challenges Grayhm admits the second one was more stressful, with a deadline to reach their campaign goal and an extremely tight schedule that had them traveling to different city’s every few days as well as fitting in time for media appearances and fundraising events.
“There’s an art to making people care about an unpopular subject matter. It’s easier to turn a blind eye and with all that is going on in our busy lives – easy to be distracted from important social issues.”
Since the launch of their campaign there’s been an outpouring of support and the creation of a social media community focused on helping raise PTSD awareness in conjunction with Thunder Road, Grayhm credits this to people realizing what a tragic epidemic PTSD is among the veteran community. ” I just think there has been more coverage because more vets are returning home from war and we are starting to see the adverse effects of PTSD in the news. 22 Veterans kill themselves everyday in this country. Statistically, our vets are more in danger of their lives on home soil than at war. I think there are a lot of people out there who want to help, who want to do more and just don’t know how to.”
Not one to be pigeon-holed Grayhm considers himself a writer/actor/director/producer, he likes variety. Though he will be starring in Thunder Road Grayhm will also be involved in all aspects of the film, “There’s still a lot of work to be done so I am involved on a daily basis and will be well until the film lands in theaters.” Choosing locations for the film’s setting was influenced by the experiences of the road trips as well, “Detroit is America’s city. I think it also reflects the current state of much of the country. It is a character unto itself in the film. Texas showed Thunder Road a lot of love and the terrain is perfect for the deployments in the film.”
On his writing process Grayhm has a few basic requirements: “I usually like to know the subject matter inside out, I like to be well informed. A relatively quiet place when writing – though I almost always listen to music. Sometimes a glass of wine helps to open the mind and free myself from editing the idea before it’s even committed to paper. Always edit sober though.”
As the creator of Thunder Road Grayhm understandably feels responsible for making this film a success, “Absolutely! I can say that we all feel a great responsibility to get this right for our veterans, active duty soldiers and Marines, their families and VA staff. We also hope the movie going public connects with the message of the film. Education is power. Compassion will save lives.”
Since the completion of the campaign Astoria Entertainment have partnered with Something Kreative Studios(Geoff Clark and Lisa Lapan), and are currently casting for the film. While the campaign has ended Astoria Entertainment is still offering incentives on their site, which includes the opportunity to be an extra in the film. Thunder Road is set for production in the Fall of 2014. To stay updated on all things Thunder Road ‘Like’ their Facebook page.
I had the privilege and pleasure of attending the opening night of the GI Film Festival and the world premiere screening of Field of Lost Shoes. The GI Film Festival is a film festival which focuses on celebrating the military experience through the medium of film. The premiere was held at the Old Town Theater in Alexandria, VA, which has just celebrated its 100th birthday.
Before the film the festival opened with welcoming speeches by the co-founders of the festival and GI Film Group: Brandon Millett and Laura Law-Millet. Following the screening of Field of Lost Shoes was a Q and A session with the filmmakers and actor David Arquette. The festivities then continued on to the Torpedo Factory for the after party.
Field of Lost Shoes is based on the Battle of New Market fought in Virginia on May 15, 1864 in the American Civil War. The film is a touching coming of age story that follows the experiences of 7 young cadets from the Virginia Military Institute as they (and their school mates) are enlisted into active battle to defend the Shenandoah Valley. The film has a stellar ensemble cast including Zach Roerig, Jason Isaacs, and Tom Skeritt.
Luke Benward plays John Wise, a governor’s son who is now a general in the South’s army. John struggles with his conflicting views over slavery and the south stance in the Civil war and his loyalty to his friends, family and defending his home. Each of the young cadets is faced with his own internal struggle against the backdrop of the impending battle, you truly feel their passions and pains as the film progresses. The love story between Mary Mouser‘s Libby and Max Lloyd-Jones‘ Sam is a heartfelt depiction of first love in all it’s beauty and awkwardness.
The film is filled with touching moments of friendship, camaraderie, and romance. Though the subject of the film is somber the film itself is gripping without being heavy-handed, there are many moments of levity in spite of the serious subject. The beautiful southern backdrop sets the scenes and the costuming allows the audience to be transported into the past.
Field of Lost Shoes is set for theatrical release in September 2014 for more information on the film follow them on their official twitter or Facebook page. Special thanks to the wonderful people of the GI film festival, and Tara for always being up for adventure.
While Astoria is still hard at work on Thunder Road a couple of weeks ago they took some time out for a great day of fun and incentive fulfillment. Bowling with Bewley is the first event of the many great incentives available to contributors to Thunder Road. Held at Lucky Strike in Hollywood fans and friends turned out to support a day of bowling and Super Bowl fun. Charlie Bewley had the support of his castmates from the Twilight franchise: Alex Meraz, Gil Birmingham, Erik Odom, Pat Brennan, Bill Tangradi, Justine Wachsberger as well as Matt Dallas, Steven Grayhm, Andy Nguyen and his veteran friends from Honor Courage Commitment.
It was an once in a lifetime opportunity for fans to spend the day with these wonderful actors and even beat some of them at bowling! Charlie generously (and with much pride) lent his ever so stylish bowling shirts to his friends Matt Dallas, Steven Grayhm and Andy Nguyen to wear in honour of the event. The losing team was helmed by Charlie and their punishment involved a whole lot of push-ups. I was thankfully on team werewolf headed by Alex Meraz who was nice enough to offer me some bowling advice, unfortunately for Alex my abysmal bowling was not due to a misunderstanding of bowling techniques, the whole event was very casual and fun was had by all.
After bowling we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the Super Bowl festivities in the VIP room of Lucky Strike. In honour of both the event and the recent birthdays of both Charlie and Steven, a special sweet surprise of custom cupcakes and cake created by Mary’s Cake Shop, was enjoyed along with other delicious goodies provided by the wonderful staff of Lucky Strike. There was another round of punishing push-ups for the losing team during one of the commercials breaks, the half-time show was a roaring success with many of the guests getting up and dancing, including the always entertaining Matt Dallas. All the guests were happy enough to chat and take pictures throughout the event making the atmosphere intimate and unforgettable, some incentive attendees were even lucky enough to get to re-enact Steven Grayhm’s ‘Boy Band’ pose!
If you’re sad you missed out on such a wonderful and unique opportunity don’t despair you can still join in the fun with many other incentives coming up including a BBQ with Matt Dallas and the entire cast of Kyle XY, or for the aspiring actors you can become part of the magic of Thunder Road by being an extra or a cast member, for more on how to contribute visit ThunderRoadFilm.com and their Thunder Road: Feature Film page on Facebook.
Special thanks to Cherish and Sarah for being the unofficial photographers for the event.