Behind the Scenes of Chicagoland Comedy Feature ‘Not If I See You First’

A fresh new comedy will be heading to your local theatres and film festivals in the new year. The microbudget comedy feature film Not If I See You First wrapped earlier this month and is now leaping into post production. Writer-director Aaron Wertheimer and his team were kind enough to share some exclusive behind-the-scenes photos and lighthearted conversations with SCREEN.

The comedy filmed in Skokie, and also in Evanston, Winnetka, and Lincolnwood, and went off without a hitch. Says Producer Andre Fonseca: “The cast and crew were amazing, knocking everything out of the park on schedule. The biggest challenge was getting Kenny and Aaron to continue drinking Wild Cherry Pepsi without creating a Super Size Mesituation in the process (spoiler alert: they powered through).”

Bringing his feature to North Shore was a must for writer-director Wertheimer. “Having grown up here, it’s long been a dream of mine to make a film with Skokie as the backdrop,” Aaron shared with SCREEN. “It’s got the classic suburban elements, but at the same time, its close proximity to Chicago gives it a bit of an edge. While films such as Risky Business and Sixteen Candles have a few scenes in Skokie, and it is famously mentioned by Keyser Söze in The Usual Suspects, I can’t think of a narrative film that has been primarily set here. Hopefully we will do right by Skokie and its surrounding areas.”

Let’s take a look at some photos from set, courtesy of photographer Kyle Bice and the production team…

Friendship at the Heart of This Illinois Indie

In Not If I See You First, Kenny is in town for work when he meets Aaron, who convinces him to extend his stay to see the sights. But when Kenny’s car accidentally explodes and Aaron gets amnesia, will their fledgling friendship lose its way?

“It is about the ups and downs of friendship, which is a running theme throughout all my films for some reason,” Wertheimer shared in an exclusive interview with SCREEN. “I’m very excited to shoot in and around my hometown of Skokie, as I feel it has an extremely normal yet subtly unusual quality that will be a fitting backdrop for this wacky adventure. The film has a range of influences, including intense dramas like Beverly Hills, 90210 and Top Gun, indie classics like Hal Hartley’s Simple Men and Tom McCarthy’s The Station Agent, and the last half-hour of Rocky V.”

Time for Some Shout Outs

Wertheimer’s film stars Kenny Zimlinghaus, in a dual role, playing the lead role of Kenny as well as Kenny’s disgruntled twin brother, Mike. Supporting cast for Not If I See You First will include Wertheimer himself, Joey Wertheimer, Leslie Crum, and Liz Stam, who starred in Michael Glover Smith’s 2022 Chicago feature Relative, which Wertheimer produced.

The aforementioned Andre Fonseca is producing, and Josh Rosen, Jordan Bass, and Yoel Goldberg are executive producing. The director of photography is Pouya Shahbazi. Anthony Mascorro will be composing the score. 

Click here for more of SCREEN’s coverage of this Illinois indie.

More Comedic Commentary from Set…

As you would expect in the heart of Chicago summertime, one of the biggest challenges facing the team was that Midwest heat and humidity. Assistant Director Hugo Palacios found himself keeping a tight watch on weather reports, and heralding the hydration throughout the shoot. Lead actor Kenny Zimlinghaus joked, “Despite any of nature’s challenges, the shoot came to life and took a pathway of its own. It’s incredible what focusing on hydration can do to an onscreen comedic performance.”

Other than that, filming was smooth for Aaron and his talented team. “Going into the shoot, I was a little worried that local officials or cops might give us trouble at some of our exterior locations,” Aaron shared with SCREEN. “But no one said anything, other than a neighbor asking us not to film her house, which we weren’t planning on doing anyways.”

Lead actress Joey Wertheimer summed up the shoot beautifully, adding, “Filming was so much fun. It felt like summer camp. We became so comfortable around each other, and I never wanted it to end.”

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