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Wednesday, January 7,2009

Ready for the world

Ready for the world Writer, director’s feature debut a tale of life back on the outside

by Eric Gallippo
Michael McCallum knows independent movies take time. The Lansing filmmaker, writer and actor has slugged away for fours years before making a 25-minute short with some friends, shooting on weekends and planning the shots as they come.

So when it came time to shoot his first full-length feature as writer and director, McCallum came prepared. After years of drafting and whittling down his script and sketching more than 500 storyboards, drafted late into the night at Moriarity’s Pub, McCallum and his cast and crew of mostly friends and family spent nine days in spring 2006 shooting “Fairview Street,” a black and white “modern noire” that takes place in Lansing.

Now he’s looking forward to sharing his work with his hometown with a series of screenings at Lansing’s Celebration! Cinema. “I want people to be entertained,” McCallum said. “I just want the community to get behind what I’m doing. It’s like a band, they have to build a fan base.”

“Fairview Street” tells the story of ex-convict James “Jim” Winton (McCallum), recently released from prison for good behavior after serving four years for armed robbery. While Winton wants to distance himself from the life that put him behind bars and try to make things right with his wife and father, it isn’t long before his old “friend,” a reckless, wannabe gangster named Bobby (Jerrod Root) comes calling and hijacks him from the straight and narrow. To make matters worse, a vengeful detective (Jeff Bone) is hard up to put Winton back behind bars (for what reason, we’re not quite sure) and uses a string of murders since Winton’s release to try to finger him. While others lose faith in him, good cop Mitch (Shane Hagedorn) believes in Winton, and he tries to convince his partner to go on more than his gut.

It’s a compelling story of second chances and how hard they are to come by, with some stand-out acting by McCallum, Hagedorn and Bone. Playing a strong supporting role with local viewers will be Lansing, which gets heavy nods, from Delta Township to downtown to the east side, as Jim wanders in front landmark buildings, like the old Knapp’s Department Store, or walks in for a haircut at Ruby’s Paradise Salon, aided by Anthony Griffin’s artful cinematography.

As we wait for the tragedy of errors to unfold, McCallum keeps the story moving, and viewers hanging in their seat, by stepping around some of the obvious snares that could befall Jim. While a couple of scenes border on too long or melodramatic, the film never loses focus, and even though it’s all but obvious this can’t end well, when it doesn’t, it’s still moving.

Part of the film’s emotional weight comes from a very well chosen soundtrack featuring mostly local artists, including Cash O’Riley, Jen Sygit and Eight Ball Grifter. CD soundtracks and DVDs of the film will be available to purchase at the screening.

Last Sunday, McCallum hosted a media preview of the film, but he’s looking forward to the real premiere this weekend.

“I’m just ready,” he said. “It’s nice to hear people’s opinions, good and bad, but I’m just at a point where I just really don’t give a fuck. Not to be mean or negative, but if I’m happy with it, I’ve won over the harshest critic to win over.”

‘Fairview Street’
7 p.m. Jan. 11-15
Celebration! Cinema, 200 E. Edgewood Blvd., Lansing
$8.50/$6.50
(517) 393-SHOW
www.celebrationcinema.com
www.fairviewstreet.com

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