Movies take a long time to make. I should know. I laid witness to the whole process having co-produced and served as legal counsel on the movie, Dead Draw. The good news is we actually have something to show for it after 4 years. And, you’ll be able to see it. Soon!
Back in Fall 2013, one of my best friends since college (Brian Klemesrud – but we all call him “BK”) wrote a screenplay on his train ride downtown to work. It was meant to be an economical thriller – one we could shoot quickly on the cheap and get it done so, after years of doing commercials, shorts and industrials, he could finally have a feature film under his belt. It was a genre effort – the heist film. You know it well – group of engaging criminals tries to make off with that proverbial “one last score.” Had shades of Reservoir Dogs and John Carpenter’s The Thing, with the flashback structure of a Lost episode. That’s my sales pitch anyway.
BK gave the script to his agent and casting director, hoping we’d be able to attract talent and raise about $50,000 to shoot it here in Chicago. It was a first draft, but they loved it. Before he knew it, they had sent it to Gil Bellows. You know Gil. He was Billy in Ally McBeal and Tommy in The Shawshank Redemption, among countless other memorable roles and appearances in TV and film throughout the years. He loved it too. He signed on and other great actors like Bitsie Tulloch and Michael Eklund soon followed. With that caliber of cast in place, our budget quickly grew to 4x what was initially intended. But, it was all for the best.
We were off to the races! After several months of pre-production, shooting began in Chicago in January 2014. Yup. Right smack dab during the Polar Vortex. It was freezing out. You can practically see the cold on screen. Production then moved from Chicago to Lincoln, Illinois in an abandoned airplane hangar, which is where most of the film’s action takes place. We wrapped a couple weeks later and the movie was in the can. Though there was still a ton to be done.
As BK still had a day job as creative director at a political ad agency in town, he was forced to edit the movie in whatever spare time he could find on nights and weekends. He toiled away for over a year assembling the cut. After picture lock, we had to get the movie scored and the sound mixed/edited. That took another few months. Finally, in late 2015, we were ready to start submitting to festivals.
We submitted to festivals all over the country, and were accepted at dozens, earning those oh-so coveted laurels and several awards to boot. The most gratifying one had to be the Audience Choice Award at the San Diego Film Festival last September. The festival circuit continued well into Summer 2017. In the meantime, we engaged a sales agent to help us sell the film. That required satisfying a long list of distribution deliverables, which also took time to prepare. Finally, in July 2017, we learned the film had been sold and would premiere on Showtime sometime in Fall.
That time is now. The movie premieres on Showtime this month. And for all the friends and family asking when they would be able to see it, you finally have the answer! But, before you can see it on Showtime, you should catch it in the theater, the way it was meant to be seen. There will be a special Chicago screening of the movie at the Landmark Century Cinema this Thursday, October 5 at 7pm. Most of the cast and crew will be in attendance and there will be a Q&A after the show. Come on out and support local filmmaking, meet the cast and crew, see a great movie (!), and be able to say you were there when it all went down.
Here’s the official press release for Dead Draw. Hope to see you on Thursday!
Award-Winning Chicago Indie Feature DEAD DRAW
Debuting in Chicago, Showtime
Dead Draw, an independent feature, shot in Illinois by Chicago-based filmmaker Brian Klemesrud is premiering on Showtime October 2nd and will have its Chicago theatrical debut on October 5th at 7:00 pm at the Landmark Century Cinema, 2828 N, Clark St. Chicago, IL 60657.
Dead Draw is an unnerving, intense, claustrophobic crime-thriller starring Gil Bellows (Patriot, Shawshank Redemption), Bitsie Tulloch (Grimm, Concussion), Michael Eklund (The Call, Wynonna Earp) and Chicago-based actor Andy Ahrens (Chicago Fire, Jupiter Ascending).
Dead Draw follows four criminals whose perfect heist turns deadly when they discover that their get away pilot was brutally murdered.Stranded in a frozen hangar and held hostage by someone outside, loyalty turns to suspicion and friends turn to enemies. Now it’s a race against time as the four criminals try to uncover the rat and escape their pasts…if they can survive the night.
Dead Draw has won critical acclaim at film festivals across the country, including the Audience Choice award at the San Diego International Film Festival, Best Ensemble Cast at SOHO Film Fest and Best of the Fest at Metro Film Fest.
His debut feature, Klemesrud wrote, directed, produced and edited the movie, which was filmed at night in the record-cold polar vortex of 2014 in Chicago and Lincoln, IL. It also stars Brit Shaw (Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension), Slaine (The Town), and Faust Checho (Strange Nature).
The film was produced by Dan Kolen (Crime Inc., Gangland), Katie Bryan (American Greed, Grand Theft Auto), Cinematographer/Producer Jim Timperman (Scalene, Mr. Blue Sky), and Actor/Producer Faust Checho of FSC Productions (Proxy, The Fields).
Mark Yaeger (Halo: Nightfall, Queen of the Desert) and Gueorgui Linev from the band Kan Wakan composed the original score. Philippe Thibault (Arrival, 12 Monkeys) was the Digital Effects Supervisor. Chicago-based graphics designer Rachel Oftedahl was Production Designer. Touring member of Iron and Wine Jim Becker, and Chicago singer-songwriter Becky Levi composed the many country-style tracks that set the tone of the film.
The event will be sponsored by Women In Film and the Q & A following the screening will feature contributions made to the film by aforementioned Katie Bryan, Rachel Oftedahl and Becky Levi.