Michael Glover Smith’s Feature RELATIVE Shoots This Month; Twin Peaks, Steppenwolf Legends Lead Cast

Award-winning writer/director Michael Glover Smith (Mercury in Retrograde, Rendezvous in Chicago) will begin principal photography on his fourth feature film, Relative, this month, and his full cast and crew are set and ready to roll.

Wendy Robie of Twin Peaks fame leads the cast of Relative

Originally set to shoot in May 2020 but postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the comedy/drama will tell the story of a weekend family get-together revolving around a college graduation party. Smith told SCREEN he considers it his “most ambitious” film yet, something evidenced by the large ensemble cast: Wendy Robie (Twin Peaks) and Steppenwolf ensemble member Francis Guinan will star as a married couple living in a historic Rogers Park home.

Their adult children will be played by Clare Cooney (Widows), also co-producer and casting director, Emily Lape (Mercy’s Girl), Keith Gallagher (Chicago Med) and Cameron Roberts (The Walking Dead). Melissa DuPrey (Grey’s Anatomy), Heather Chrisler (Chicago PD), Elizabeth Stam (Bleed American), H.B. Ward (Chicago Fire), Cheryl Hamada (About Schmidt), Penelope Walker (Olympia) and Gregory Fields (A House Divided) round out the cast. Aaron Wertheimer (Skippers) is producing and Olivia Aquilina (Pick Up) will shoot.

Ensemble cast for Relative includes Clare Cooney, who collaborated with Smith on Rendezvous in Chicago

Smith, who cites influences as diverse as Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married and the family dramas of Yasujiro Ozu, says he has continually refined the script over the past year: “The screenplay was originally 120 pages long but, after having to live with it for longer than I’ve ever lived with any script, I’ve gotten it down to 94 pages. The pandemic really forced me to be laser-focused about exactly what it was that I wanted to say. Relative has a big cast and it addresses big themes but, within the structure that I’ve devised, I think it’s going to be a very tight film.” Smith seems particularly excited to explore family dynamics, and “how one can simultaneously be incredibly close to the members of one’s immediate family in some respects while remaining incredibly distant from them in others.”

Post-production is scheduled through fall with Eric Marsh (Orders) set to edit, Cait Rappel (Veiled Tractate) composing the underscore and music supervising, and Chicago’s NoiseFloor handling post-sound.

Relative will begin filming June 19, with an expected wrap date of June 29th. The team will be making its way through the city, as well as near-Chicago suburbs Skokie and Wilmette. Notable filming locations range from an epic 1895 Victorian house in Rogers Park to the popular craft beer bistro Hopleaf in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood.

A festival debut of Relative will likely occur in 2022.

In the meantime, you can enjoy Glover Smith’s latest festival-winning offering, Rendezvous in Chicago, on Amazon Prime, courtesy of the film’s distribution partner, Cow Lamp Films. The feature will receive its television premiere via PBS Wisconsin’s Director’s Cut on Friday, July 9. And it’s worth mentioning that Chicago Sun-Times critic Richard Roeper recommends you take the time to watch Rendezvous, deeming it “exhilaratingly entertaining” in his rave review of the film. Here’s a quick preview:

Check back here at SCREEN for updates as Michael Glover Smith and his team forge ahead into production on Relative this month.

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