By Sam Elliott
Who needs Hollywood?
Director Joe Crump has brought the movie-making machine of Tinseltown to his native Fishers to create “The Storyteller,” a film written by Crump with his co-writer Rachel Noll.
“Joe and I had written another script together where if you were going to produce that movie, it would probably be $20 to $50 million,” Noll said. “After we wrote that, we had talked about wanting to do another project with a lower budget we could actually shoot. Joe wanted to shoot something in Indiana where his family is and connections are, so we started thinking of a smaller story that could be filmed in Indiana.”
Joe and Noll began their writing process in February of 2015, before conducting pre-production tasks including casting, rehearsals and recording music.
“Most films you’d probably get about three or four months of development — we had nine months, so we had much more time,” Noll said. “In some ways it was good; in some ways it kind of gives you time to think and rethink about things.”
That extra time stemmed from needing to shoot portions of the film in a school setting. So Joe and his wife Nancy Crump, an executive producer on the film, approached the high school from which their daughter graduated.
“We planned on shooting it in the summertime because we knew HSE High School would be open,” Joe said.
“And our lead actress is a 10-year-old girl, so we knew she’d need to be out of school,” Noll added.
Filming in Fishers began June 27 and wrapped July 17.
“It has its pros and cons,” Joe said of shooting in Fishers as opposed to Hollywood or other cities with more film history. “On one hand, we don’t have to have permits here. In LA, you have to get permits everywhere and it’s so much more expensive. Here, everybody’s cooperative. We went down to Handel’s and asked if we could shoot out front of the ice cream store and they said, ‘Sure, come, we’d love to have you.’ Greek’s Pizza and the nursing home said the same thing. If you try to do that in California, they’d charge you a lot of money to use those locations. We also brought in a lot of college and high school students who have been helping us as production assistants from IU and Ball State. It’s been nice to be able to work with people from the community and bring in people from outside. For some of the more key positions, we brought in some more experienced people.”
The movie’s cast includes actors with Broadway and television experience, including a mini “General Hospital” reunion with three actresses from the ABC soap opera — Brooklyn Rae Silzer, Kristina Wagner and Constance Towers — all in the film. Nancy said when a script is as good as “The Storyteller,” actors used to traveling to locations for shoots will say, “Why not Indiana?”
“When you put it out there and people start reading the script, they decide right then and there if they want to be a part of the project. If they do, they’ll try to find a way to make it work even though they’re not being paid a lot to do it,” Joe said.
The film’s story follows a young girl from the foster system named Abby, portrayed by Brooklyn Rae Silzer, who as the tagline states, “brings wonder and healing to a broken family.”
“It’s a positive message,” Nancy said. “It shows that your family is where you find it and we can come together and help each other to heal. Life can be hard and we can help each other to get through it. I think that’s really important.”
Making a Movie
As Joe Crump has been directing “The Storyteller” in his native Fishers, he’s been documenting how-to tips of movie-making process on his production company website, 20QuestionsFilm.com.
“You don’t need $10 million to make a movie,” Joe’s wife and executive producer Nancy Crump said. “You have to really prepare, you have to be smart about how you manage your time, money and resources. It can be done, but you have to start with a good script. Rachel and Joe wrote a beautiful script and that’s where it all comes from. If you don’t have a good script, everything falls apart. You have people come on board — talented people like the actors and crew people we have who are so talented — because they look at the script and say, ‘This is great.’”
Noll and the rest of the production cast and crew from Los Angeles have enjoyed Fishers’ hospitality. Now upon returning home to California they have post-production work to come and are aiming for an October release.