Local Filmmakers Turn Out For Director Schimmel
February 14, 2018 by Screenmag
Over forty Chicago crew and film makers arrived at Horcher Farm in Wheeling, IL last month, to support Mark Schimmel, Director and William Nielsen, Cinematographer to shoot the short film, KILL THE LIGHT. The all Chicago ensemble of actors included Coby Goss, Cassie Kramer, John Victor Allen, John Gray, Brooklyn Schimmel, Christy Arington and a Spaniel mix dog named, Khalessi.
Two years prior, Schimmel and Nielsen were introduced through Chicago Gaffer, Ron Lehey. Both had a common goal, to escalate their careers. Schimmel, who has spent the past 20 years directing commercials and teaches at Columbia College, is pursuing a career in episodic television. Nielsen who has spent the past 30 years operating camera and served as the cinematographer on shows such as Sex, Drugs and Rock’n Roll (Dennis Leary), Sirens and a handful of Chicago Fire episodes (currently camera operator), wants to expand his creativity and continue on episodic shows as Cinematographer. Last year, Schimmel presented Nielsen with KILL THE LIGHT. After a year of development and research, Schimmel self funded the project. With Nielsen’s strong presence in the Chicago market, Robert Keslow / KESLOW Camera, assembled an ARRI Alexa camera package exclusively for KILL THE LIGHT.
For Schimmel and his modest budget presented a few challenges. “Given that my budget was just paying for out of pocket expenses, it took about a month, to find and book the crew, but everyone from the PA’s to the AD’s to the dog and weapon wranglers brought their A-game to the set”. “The casting, done by O’Connor Casting. David and Joan O’Connor brought an array of Chicago talent, so much, it was a tough choice. The two lead characters, Ray and Cheryl, are played by the established Coby Goss who’s credits include, Widow, Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman, Empire and other popular shows. Cheryl is played by Cassie Kramer whose credits include Chicago PD.” For the locations Schimmel called upon his close friends, the Horcher family to provide over 60 acres of farmland along with Ray’s house and workshop. Schimmel also asked the Mt. Prospect police to lend the production their 1972 Dodge Blues Brother’s police car. Northbrook police also closed a road in Northbrook one Saturday afternoon, providing a safe area to block and shoot the dog scene.
The entire 24-minute film was shot within 3 x 12 hour days averaging 25 set ups per day.
“When producing any kind of film with very little money, your strongest asset is time for prep. I took the right amount of time to develop a strategy that enabled us to shoot as much usable footage in the time allowed per day,” said Schimmel. “We had an impressive and very strong crew on set. By the third day, the crew had grown to 30. I honestly did not anticipate so much support from my friends and William’s friends to volunteer on this shoot. For me, this is Chicago, a major market with a remarkable sense of community”.
KILL THE LIGHT is currently being edited by Schimmel here in the Chicago area assisted by Chip Eberhart and colorist, Tom Rovak. He plans to screen the film for crew and financial contributors in the fall along with submission to festivals. Both he and Nielsen have an impressive list of TV producers and production companies they plan to share the film with. According to Schimmel, “ this film was designed as a calling card for me, William and anyone else on the crew who feels that. “Kill the Light” will help their career.” Schimmel’s goal is to earn a directorial position on one of the network Chicago shows and with “Kill the Light”, he may just succeeded.