‘Jupiter Landing’ returns to Salt Lake
An ex-professional football player, his cheating wife, a loner with a masters in business, a journalist, a coke addict and a gothic recluse share a house, and live independently of one another, until they’re handed an eviction notice. The landlord wants to sell the property to a spa business.
"Jupiter Landing," a movie named for the tenants’ towering Victorian home, debuted in 2006 at the Park City Film Music Festival, showcasing talent culled from Salt Lake City and Park City, including the company, Crazy Parkite Productions. At the festival, the film took home the "Gold Medal for Excellence for Emerging Film Composer for a Feature Film" for Parkite Mary Beth Maziarz’s soundtrack.
Tonight, Wednesday, May 16, and tomorrow night, cast and crew will meet at Brewvies, Salt Lake’s drink beer-and-view cinema, for a special screening of the film, the majority of which was shot on location in Salt Lake’s Avenues in 2004.
"It’s a great place to shoot," says the film’s writer and director Stacy Dymalski. "In Los Angeles, it’s crowded and noisy and the Utah film Commission is a gem to work with. We pulled a permit to work downtown and it was very reasonable. Utah Film Commissioners appeared on set and were very supportive and responsitive."
Dymalski decided to make the film on her own with her co-writer, Zack Van Eyck, after the two raised enough money locally. They had entered the script into the selection process for the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriter’s Lab, then pulled it, Dymalski says. They wanted to guarantee this film got made.
"Zack and I had actually optioned several scripts in Hollywood [including ‘Jupiter Landing’], but it was frustrating, because in our case, the movies never got made," she explained. "Producers and directors would buy them and we’d make money that way but then they’d make action-packed movies instead. All our movies were quirky comedies. We decided to move forward."
Early on, the "Jupiter Landing" script received a lot of attention, the original draft written by Eyck for a Canadian screenwriting competition that challenged writers to create a script that could be shot on a budget of $20,000, according to Dymalski. Together, they re-wrote the script four or five times after it won first- place at the competition.
The "Jupiter Landing" screenplay was optioned by Hollywood producer David Winkler, a co-producer for the upcoming film "Rocky Balboa." But when he couldn’t make it, "Winkler actually encouraged us to raise the money ourselves," Dymalski remembers.
Among the Park City dwellers featured in the film is "Jupiter Landing" co-producer Kim Page, a founding member of Park City’s improv comedy group, "Off the Top," has a cameo in the film at the roommate’s garage sale, along with her mother, Donna. She notes other Off the Top members are also in the film, including Nate Sears (Cop #2) and John Spung (Amber and Bert’s Baby.)
The members of the principal cast of the ensemble, four of which are from Utah, with the other two from Los Angeles, are all card-carrying members of the Screen Actor’s Guild.
The movie opens, and most scenes begin with Tod Huntington, who plays Catfish, the woebegone radical who wears a tee-shirt with the words "Anarchy is Freedom" printed in white letters on the back, and enjoys ear-splitting rock-n-roll music. Sometimes he likes to peruse other people’s mailboxes.
Like Dymalski, Huntington has developed a film career in Utah, and calculates he played supporting roles in five films last year, one of which is called "Redemption is Saving Sarah," and is scheduled to be released in theaters this August.
He instantly identified with the tattoo-clad rebel, "Catfish" in "Jupiter Landing, he says, though the 27 temporary tattoos were inked by Harmony Hamill, a graduate of Park City High School.
"I said, if I was going to be in this movie, this is who I want to play," he recalls. "He has an identity of his own, but not a very solid one. He doesn’t have any solid relationships, he just hangs out with these tenants. But he comes to a lot of realizations of who he is and what he is, and the way people see him."
Huntington did not expect to get the part. Jeremy Sisto, a Los Angeles-based actor, and David Stephens, a former acting teacher of Huntington’s, were up for the role. Sisto got the role, but then backed out because of a conflict with another project, Huntington says.
"I was not confident about my chances, but you know, you go out, give it your best, and sometimes things go your way," Huntington explained.
The observation could also be said of the film itself.
In addition to debuting in the Park City festival, "Jupiter Landing" also made its way to a Berlin’s film festival, the "European Film Mart," where it was purchased by a distribution company.
The film is currently on the shelves of Blockbuster stores, and can be rented off online video store Netflix.
Crazy Parkite Productions is working on producing a new film about the rise of auto-mechanic-turned-Utah-Jazz-all-star-basketball-player, Mark Eaton, also a Park City resident.
Dymalski is currently making the final edits to the script.
"I want to do it again. I want to shoot as much as I can in Utah," she says. "It was a great experience."
"Jupiter Landing" will screen at Brewvies May 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m. Brewvies is located off the downtown exit on I-15 at 677 S 200 West. Discount tickets are available online at jupiterlandingthemovie.com if purchased the day of the show by 2 p.m.
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