Husband-and-wife duo R. Michael Gull and Jon Anne Willow co-wrote the script for a full-length film called "New Day." The movie, filmed entirely in Milwaukee and Sheboygan, unravels the story of a man who thought he lost his wife on 9 /11 but later realizes -- after he pieced together a new life -- that she might still be alive.
"There are some pretty cool twists in the film, and some great characters. This is not your run-of-the-mill `conspiracy' movie," says Gull, who also acts in the film.
"New Day" premieres on Saturday, Sept. 12 at the Milwaukee Art Museum at 9 p.m. It will be presented in partnership with the Milwaukee Independent Film Society.
Recently, OnMilwaukee.com caught up with Gull, who is 43 and lives in Wauwatosa, to chat about "New Day" and Milwaukee movie making in general.
OnMilwaukee.com: What is your role in the film?
R. Michael Gull: I play Agent Michael Ross, a special agent with the Defense Intelligence Agency. This character is completely evil, which, as an actor, is always a lot of fun to play. He comes into the story when Robert Logan (Nathaniel Ross) and his new wife, Rachel (Carolyn Kanter), both stumble upon information that may prove that Robert's first wife (Debra Lopez), who was killed in one of the planes on 9 / 11, may still be alive. Agent Ross has a vested interest in making sure the truth does not come out.
OMC: Was "New Day" made in Milwaukee?
RMG: "New Day" is absolutely a product of Milwaukee. Jon Anne Willow (Gull's wife) and I wrote the script, and serve as co-producers of the movie. Jason Williams, a resident of New Berlin, is the director and co-producer. All of the crew and 95 percent of the cast are all Milwaukee area folks.
The soundtrack features not only a new song by John Waite, but also songs by some amazing local acts: Lisa Gatewood, Quinn Scharber, 13 Pills, Independent Idols, Jennifer Dekorah Lee, The Off Key, ArteMiss, Fuzee and Fun(d) Short Project.
We shot the film entirely in the Milwaukee and Sheboygan areas and the majority of the post production work has been handled here as well. When we started L'Oiseau Blanc Films, we did it with the intention of making commercially viable feature films that showcase the talent, both in front of and behind the camera, that Wisconsin has to offer. We definitely plan to keep shooting here with local actors and crew.
OMC: How long did it take to shoot this film?
RMG: It's funny, I had no idea how large an undertaking this would be. When we went into pre-production last September, I told Jason Williams I wanted to have a finished product by April of this year. He laughed at me. Then I told him I wanted it finished for a June premiere. He laughed again. Then I shot for July. More laughing. We shot the exteriors in November and then did some more pre-production and started shooting for real in January. We wrapped in April and had a couple of days of pick-up shooting in May. Post-production began immediately after that, with Jason over-seeing it.
OMC: What are your hopes for this film?
RMG: Well, like all filmmakers, we hope first that the vision we had in the beginning translates effectively to the screen. We think we did a pretty good job with that part, but the proof is in the viewing. Once we're convinced we've achieved that, we plan to have the film distributed worldwide. We're talking with a handful of distributors and foreign sales agents, and Jon Anne and I also plan to attend the American Film Market in November to try to sell the movie there. If it looks like it might take a little while to sell the film, we plan to self-distribute while we work on conventional distribution. Of course, I'm also hoping this film will help us get financing for the next one, which Jon Anne and I are writing now and hope to shoot in the spring.
OMC: Have you been in other films? What else do you do? How old are you? What side of town do you live? Did you study acting?
RMG: I'm in the films "Dust" (sci / fi feature film directed by Drew Maxwell), "Perceva" (a short by Tate Bunker), "Victim" (a short that I wrote and starred in. Directed by Jason Williams), "Indefinite" (also directed by Jason Williams), "Ferocious" (a futuristic fantasy feature film directed by Drew Maxwell), and "Haunted" (a horror film). I also had a very small role in a Lifetime movie called "Family Practice," and on the A&E series "The Beast," starring Patrick Swayze.
Before I got serious about acting, I was a touring stand up comic, but haven't really had much time to do that lately. I'm hoping to do some stand up dates this fall and winter.
For most of my adult life, I worked as a private investigator and retail manager. I don't do those things anymore, but I do still have my P.I. license. I'm 43 years old and live in Wauwatosa.
OMC: Is Milwaukee a good place for filmmakers/film making? Why?
RMG: I think Milwaukee could be an outstanding place for filmmakers if there was more of a sense of community among us. It seems there are different "camps" in the film community here. Most of the filmmakers here create more artsy films and the few us us that are interested in making commercial movies are seen as less legitimate. That's a shame, because if there was more of a sense of community about it, we could all be helping each other get ahead in the business.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.