By Maureen Post, Special to   Published Mar 28, 2008 at 5:19 AM
The Milwaukee-made film "Tracks" debuts this Saturday on the East Side. With a low budget of $30,000 and a crew of only 12, screenwriter and director Josh Rosenberg produced this feature-length film boasting a local cast, local crew and local set. 

The movie tells the story of two high school girls, each with a different home life experience, who are drawn together as friends through extreme experience. The film follows their daily transition as they deal with dramatic shifts in their social, personal and family relationships.

"It was a chance for me to capture something that greatly affected me. I think that's a very special gift that filmmakers get to do," says Rosenberg.

The film is easily captivating and thought provoking. It possesses an air of small screen indie work using unconventional camera angles and dramatic visual sequences. Symbolism and interpretation illustrate the state of mind and thought process of two greatly developed characters. While the characters are high school age, the topics and relevancy reache well beyond issues for young adults.

"I think one of the biggest high school issues is alienation," Rosenberg explains. "And I think that is an issue in this film. When you're young and you don't feel like you truly belong it's easy to see why young people make bad decisions. Heck, I'm guilty of it. Luckily enough for most of us we get to learn from our foolish mistakes. Then you get older and you try to make art out of it."

Rosenberg began his film career at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he made two documentaries while earning a degree in journalism. After graduating, he spent over three months working with Milwaukee native filmmaker Niels Mueller in Los Angeles. The result was both the script and the producing support for "Tracks."

Returning to the Milwaukee community, Rosenberg looked to the UWM theater department for actors, support and advice. Although UWM was not directly involved in the filming, a number of faculty including Scott Foley, Raeleen McMillion, James Tasse, and Jenny Wasanek worked with Rosenberg. The main characters are played by two UWM fine arts students, Rebecca Rose Phillips and Amanda J. Hull.

"Tracks" is Rosenberg's directing debut. He wrote the original draft of the script in only three weeks but it took nearly six months to secure funding. The movie was filmed over a 17-day period in the summer of 2007 with scenes in shot in West Allis, Whitefish Bay, Milwaukee and Hartford. Over the past two years, Rosenberg worked tirelessly on perfecting both the script and the edit of this film.

"I really hope it's a film that will mean something different to everyone who sees it. In the end, I didn't want to create a film that just dealt with good and evil. I wanted to show the middle or gray area, because I think that is where most of us live our lives," Rosenberg says.

Over the past several years, Wisconsin and the Midwest have emerged as an alluring alternative for feature film production. The enthusiasm of residents and businesses to welcome film crews as well as tax incentives has brought several directors and crews to the area.

"The people (were the reason we filmed in Wisconsin), Rosenberg explains. "If you saw the 5,000 people who sat in the cold for an extra role in the Johnny Depp film, you can see people in the Wisconsin want to be a part of films. We had one family that offered to grill us up brats and burgers for free one day. Of course we said yes. We're poor independent filmmakers."

"Tracks" shows one day only, this Saturday, March 29 at 12:45 p.m. at the Oriental Theater.