Chillicothe is a dry-witted narrative that follows a year
in the life of six friends who have found themselves trapped in a rut in the time
Its been four years since graduation, and Wade Hinkle, the groups most cynical bachelor, is still stewing over the loss of his social life. At one time, Wade was an aspiring painter with a beautiful girlfriend; but now he is single, uninspired, and bitter. Wades best friend, Kevin, has just landed a date with the waitress of his dreams, and the blossoming relationship soon gives way to marriage plans. The group scatters --forcing Wade to move into a small duplex with his TV worshipping brother, Shane.
The personality clash between the two drives Wade crazy, until the bizarre death of a college rival makes him begin to re-evaluate his life. Wade finally decides to pursue a painting degree in New York. His ambition wears off on Shane, too, who ventures away from his spot on the couch to eventually find romance. The characters in Chillicothe learn that joy is not found in lifes situations, but rather in the process of moving ahead toward lifes goals.
ABOUT THE FILM
After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 1999, Chillicothe has screened at festivals and events across the country --receiving overwhelming response from both audiences and critics. Most recently, Chillicothe was in competition at the 1999 Worldfest - Flagstaff International Film Festival, and won an award in the Comedy Division. Chillicothe has a voice unique to 20 - something comedies, and the response on the festival circuit has proven just that. At a time in entertainment when audiences demand programming with substance, Chillicothe is poised to help fill that niche. The Sundance Film Festival said it best when they characterized Chillicothe as "far less cynical than the average 20-something indie."
This film strongly connects with audiences through its humorous characters and situations, while tackling some serious life issues. It also presents a subliminal challenge to the viewers, encouraging them to push aside cynicism and ignore the voices that scream what is impossible. Chillicothe challenges the audience to pursue their own dreams, igniting the fire to move toward that one goal that they have been wishing for, but were afraid or unmotivated to take the first step toward accomplishing.
The Sundance Film Festival hit the nail on the head when they wrote, "Chillicothe is definitely not the first low-budget comedy to examine life, love, and friendship... but its one of the most effective." Due to its comedic insights and candid revelations behind the "guy-talk" curtain, Chillicothe has also been called a "chick flick, for guys." Ultimately, the films strength lies in its episodic portrayals of the moments when one must choose to embrace adulthood by re-capturing the dreams of childhood.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION (behind the scenes)
Todd Edwards shot his first film at the age of 8 with his brother Cory, then 11. Having known he wanted to make movies since the ripe old age of 3, Edwards couldnt help feeling that he was already "way behind" in his career aspirations. Casting their little sister in the starring role, the brothers made "Movie Stuff" on a Super 8 camera owned by "studio heads" Mom and Dad. Their taste for satire showed itself early in their send-up of pop-culture merchandising, "Baby-Jumps-Out-the-Window-A-Lot." Though slightly darker than "Movie Stuff" in its depiction of violence, the brothers did receive rave reviews from friends and relatives.
Flash forward a few years to the production of Chillicothe. Shot in 35 days spread over October 1997 through January 1998, the film uses over 500 set-ups in 70 locations in and around the Tulsa area, where Edwards and his company Blue Yonder Films were located. Locations on and around the campus of Edwards’ alma mater, Anderson University, in Anderson, Indiana, were also utilized. The small crew (fewer than 30 people, most under the age of 30) used a rigid chain of command to keep the shoot running smoothly and on budget. "We didn’t have any film school graduates or a studio bankroll. We had a core of hard-working, focused people with a clear goal --making a film in the most efficient, streamlined fashion possible," says producer Preston Stutzman. Edwards agrees, noting that making films "has been a life-long dream for all of us. We had worked together on other productions and had already developed a strong loyalty and trust that made everyone incredibly professional and devoted." Edwards and the Blue Yonder crew placed a high priority on problem solving to ensure that the production values of the film met their high standards.
Trying to be as flexible as possible, the crew responded to all the challenges they faced with a healthy dose of ingenuity. Having collected scrap metal for free from the sculpture department at Anderson University, Brad Knull welded together a car mount for rigging the camera. "The lens doesn’t know it’s on a homemade mount," Edwards explains, "and we were intensely serious about not letting our production integrity slip despite any budgetary constraints." Edwards also put a strong emphasis on creating a distinct visual style for Chillicothe. "We set out to give the film a sharp visual landscape unique to most films of this scope and subject matter. Because I was also the writer, I had the advantage of planning a visual story that would complement the dialogue," he noted. With over 200 scenes in the film, Edwards worked the different moods by constantly changing the film’s locations and visual geography. By juxtaposing scenes with different compositions, Edwards creates a vivid sense of the environment his characters inhabit --the stark bachelor pads, the suburban havens, the claustrophobic work cubicles, the open, desolate mid-Western plains --and the emotions they elicit in their denizens. And as the characters literally and figuratively emerge from their confines into the more vivid surroundings of the real world, the visual and emotional metaphors complement each other through skilled and professional filmmaking.
ABOUT THE CAST & FILMMAKERS
TODD EDWARDS Wade - Writer/Director
On Francisco Road, in suburban Columbus, Ohio, sits a modest, two-story home that is filled with history. It is the location of a dreams beginning, and the birth of a career. Ever since he was eight years old, Todd Edwards has been making short films on Super 8 and home video with his brother and sister. Long before they could drive, they were constructing sets in their garage, dressing up in homemade costumes, building creatures, and gluing on mustaches. The special effects department consisted of a basement lightbox, where gunfire was added to action scenes by scratching frames of the film with a needle. From choreographed fight scenes in the front yard, to neighborhood bike chases, Todd has been pursuing his dream to one day make feature films. Throughout high school and college, Todds desire to make films has been his driving force. He had a knack for turning potentially boring class reports into highly visual, often humorous video projects. Todd soon made quite a name for himself, and his teachers and fellow students began to expect nothing less.
In 1994 Todd received his undergraduate degree from Anderson University, a private school in Indiana. Beyond the books, he spent hundreds of hours and all-nighters writing and directing his own projects outside the curriculum, often incorporating his shorts with independent study courses for his studio art major. Todd essentially created his own film major at a university that didnt have one. And the schools social scene became a platform in which he was known for his campus-wide video shows and short film events.
After college, Todd worked professionally for a year as an editor and art director on short subjects and music videos. This led to the formation of Blue Yonder Films in 1995, where he has directed regional commercial spots and written several screenplays. Chillicothe is not only his directorial and acting debut, but an extremely personal fictionalized look at his life and those of his friends, during their years after college. Todds second film is already well in development, with others waiting in the wings.
For the majority of his young life, Todd Edwards has been working diligently at fulfilling his desire to do the one thing that gets him up in the morning... making films. Studying the industry and learning from his mentors, he has worked hard to develop his talents as a budding writer and director. Todds innate ability to translate emotions, mixed with logic and humor, has enabled him to share who he is with a larger audience. This, along with his striking visual sense and keen eye, will soon demonstrate his ability as a standout director. At twenty-six years of age, this is only the beginning. When asked what he would do if he didnt direct films, Todd said, "I cant imagine doing anything else. Its what I was born to do."
CORY EDWARDS Shane - Actor/Producer
If Cory seems to fit the part of Wades brother, its because hes had lots of practice. As Todds real life brother, Cory is also a driven writer/director with projects of his own. But his worst habits inspired the character of Shane, the zoned-out TV sponge who cant get off the couch. "Inspired is the key word," Cory says. "Many parts of Shane are me, exaggerated. Others are way off. Im a neat freak, not a slob!"
Corys experience on camera as an actor, video show host and stand-up comic gives him a flair for the goofy. But Corys people skills also paid off in the role of producer. He worked tirelessly for a year and a half to raise the funds for the film, and is currently developing one of his many feature scripts to direct.
ROB YANOVITCH Johnny Perfect - Producer/Actor
Life as a producer is a far cry from that of a golf pro, but it prepared Rob to move equipment, people, and time together in harmony. Robs business expertise helped launch Blue Yonder into the structure it is today, and he drew up the films business plan. Since Blue Yonders beginning, Rob has headed commercial and corporate shoots of every size, on every location. He not only served as Chillicothes executive producer but as a functioning producer as well, spending every hour of the shoot and post-production process "in the trenches." Rob handles most of the day-to-day business operations of Blue Yonder, as well as looking ahead to develop Todd or Corys next script for production. Rob can also be seen as the unflappable Johnny Perfect in Chillicothe, with a humorous nod to his golf pro past.
PRESTON STUTZMAN - Producer
Prestons attention to detail is legendary. Not a shot or a line of dialogue went by that he didnt double-check. As producer, he charted the course of each scene, worked carefully on the daily shoot schedule, maintained shot-logging software, and headed up post-production tech support. Before coming to Blue Yonder, Prestons expertise was honed in the marketing and advertising arms of the publishing industry, and he has had experience in many forms of media. It was only natural that he would play a major role in creating the films entire marketing and promotional campaign, right down to the postcards.
"Ironically, Preston is also invaluable as the big picture person," Todd adds. "He can step away from the details and ask, how does this affect the entire project?" And the big picture is always getting bigger. Preston will continue to help support Blue Yonders future original film projects and client work, as well as play a major role in leading the company into future ventures in other media as well. And if you blink, you just might miss his tiny cameo in Chillicothe.
PETER BEDGOOD Matt - Actor
An aspiring actor and inventive stand-up comic, Peter Bedgood is as much a character in real life as he is on screen. Peters eccentric slant on life was first seen by Cory Edwards, during frequent visits to open mic night at the local comedy club. "I knew right away that Peter and Todd had to meet," Cory remembers. "They really became kindred spirits very quickly."Todd and Peter actually connected months into Chillicothes development, after the part of Matt had already been cast. But the actor Todd had written the part for had to back out, and Peter eventually became the perfect choice. "Now, I cant imagine what the movie would be without the character Peter became," says Todd. Peter has influenced more than his onscreen persona. He has become Todds diehard writing partner on his next two projects, and also wrote songs for the movie soundtrack. But the most unpredictable thing about Peter is what hell say next. Hes a promising young actor to look out for.
BRAD KNULL Kevin - Actor/Producer
Brad is first and foremost a film producer, logging years behind the camera all over the country and overseas. But inside his chest also beats the heart of an actor. A smaller sized production like Chillicothe gave Brad the chance to become his film alter ego, Kevin Carmichael. So many of Brad's real-life events fueled his scenes, he felt like he had already lived the part. "The way I meet my wife in the film is the way it really happened for me," Brad admits. "That's what makes Chillicothe greatso much of it came from real life."
The small crew kept Brad busy as actor and producer. And if that weren't enough, he took time off from part of the shoot to produce on a second film shooting in Oklahoma. Brad currently lives in Los Angeles, making strides as an independent producer.
KATIE HOOTEN Judy - Actor
Wade's sister Judy is a voice of reason in an apathetic world. Katie Hooten gives her character a memorable sharpness, providing Chillicothe with a strong female perspective. Katie has trained all her life for this role. In addition to majoring in theater studies, she is also the real-life sister of Todd and Cory Edwards. "Yep, another Edwards," she admits. "We got a regular Baldwin family thing going here."
Katie grew up writing and performing live theater, improv and comedy, as well as helping her brothers make super 8 film adventures, so she jumped at the chance to be a part of indie filmmaking. "Everyone's tireless efforts were very contagious," she said. "We were all on such little sleep and comfort; but everyone had so much invested, we inspired each other to keep going."
While managing a university performing arts center, Katie's future is developing behind the camera as well as in front of it. She recently wrote and produced Remnant, a short film about a small town on the eve of the millennium.
JENNY LABOW Robin - Actor
Robin has always haunted Wade. She was the love of his life, his best friend, and now, in her absence, the very heart of his pain and cynicism. In Chillicothe's final moments, the two must face each other as old friends to find reflection and closure. The unforgettable face of Robin is really Jenny Labow's. Jenny launched into a career of entertainment at a very young age in Toronto, Canada. She eventually moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, obtaining regional stardom as the lead singer of the band Glass House. Jenny quickly became a favorite at Oklahoma's legendary Eskimo Joe's restaurant and even sang for the likes of Bill Paxton and Jan DeBont at the Twister wrap party. In 1997, Director Todd Edwards heard her independent solo album, "Flourish," and asked her to lend songs to Chillicothe's soundtrack. After the two became good friends, Edwards asked her to audition for the role of Robin. Jenny is currently recording with top Los Angeles music producers and pursuing major record labels. An exceptional singer and lyricist, Jenny Labow is an exciting new talent.
CHILLICOTHE SCREENING HISTORY