The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    Lights, Camera, Action!

    A young man leaves home to escape from his problems, becomes a referee street performer in a big city and then learns he died in a mysterious murder in his hometown, which he hasn’t returned to in seven years.

    Sound like an interesting plot? The members of Wut Wut Alma Motion Pictures Company think so.

    The company is producing “The Illegal Use of Joe Zopp,” a full-length feature movie that will be filmed in the Eau Claire area in August, Vice President of Media Relations Emery Skolfield said.

    The company plans to use as many local resources as possible to produce the film, he said.

    Story continues below advertisement

    The company was started by seven friends, most who grew up in the Chippewa Falls area. The friends live all over the U.S. and all hold other jobs or attend school, UW-Eau Claire alumnus Sarah Rykal said.

    The idea to create the company came from a conversation between friends about how they weren’t making use of their talents, Rykal said. They pulled together, and Wut Wut Alma Motion Pictures was born.

    Since the friends don’t live near each other, much of their communication is done electronically. Skolfield said the members communicate online and through conference calls.

    “We still manage to discuss everything that is important,” he said.

    The budget for the film is $25,000. Electrical equipment such as microphones and cameras sucked up the company budget, and Rykal said the actors won’t be paid, but they will get national exposure.

    After the film is finished, Wut Wut Alma Motion Pictures Company plans to send it to as many film festivals in Canada and the U.S. as possible.

    Rykal co-wrote the script and is directing the film. She said the film is a hybrid of a comedy and murder mystery.

    The storyline is based around Joe Zopp, a child prodigy who comes up with an invention and makes a lot of money off of it. When he turns 18 years old, he learns his parents squandered his money and left him with nothing.

    He vows to leave town and never return. Zopp moves to a big city and becomes a street performer. Years later, Zopp runs into a former classmate who informs him of the mysterious death of himself in his hometown. He learns that everyone thinks he is dead, including his parents. Zopp then decides to return to his hometown, but doesn’t reveal his actual identity and while in the town, Zopp tries to learn why everyone thinks he is dead.

    Both experiences and professors from Eau Claire drove Rykal’s interest into production, she said.

    Rykal said she had an internship at Wisconsin Public Radio as a technical producer, which allowed her to develop editing and producing skills, and Rykal’s advisor, communication and journalism professor Judy Sims, also helped her reach her goals.

    “She really supported my efforts,” she said. “Dr. Sims was the first professor I had that was interested in supporting my dreams.”

    Junior Jeff Kesterson said Eau Claire has a topical film minor, but no film degree.

    For his film minor, Kesterson met with an advisor and set up 24-credits that relate to film. He said he is taking classes in the art, communication and journalism and English departments.

    Kesterson also is a member of the Tilt Student Filmmaking Society on campus. Kesterson said that organization is a good way to get involved in film on campus.

    Second degree student and second coordinator for Tilt Juli Pitzer said there are numerous opportunities available on and off campus for students to get involved in film.

    She said there are film festivals, like the Progressive Film Festival, the annual ST.I.F.FE awards and the 48-Hour Film Festival.

    She said there is training available at BITS in the Old Library on campus to learn how to edit video as well.

    Pitzer also said there are student positions available to get involved in the campus film series through University Activities Commission, International Film Society and the Progressive
    Media Network.

    “Coming from a small town there isn’t much of a film industry,” she said. “Any experience you can get will help you in your future career.”

    Rykal said the film company wants to use as many local resources as possible for the movie. Casting auditions will be held in both Chippewa Falls and Madison.

    The movie will be shot at locations in both Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls. Rykal said she plans for the finished film to be screened in the Chippewa Falls or Eau Claire area once it
    is finished.

    The film has 15 major and 40 minor characters, Rykal said. The movie also has over 100 different locations for scenes. Rykal said getting permission for each scene is a long process.
    “It’s a pretty big endeavor,” she said.

    Skolfield said there is a lot of detail that goes into planning a movie that many people don’t think of, such as costumes, lighting and set designs.

    The company is looking for both community and student involvement.

    “There are seven of us,” he said. “We’ll need more than that to put together a full-length feature film.”

    Kesterson said he would be interested in being involved with the motion picture.

    “I think this is something that could jump start the film community here,” he said. The company is excited to work with young people.

    “We were all in college,” he said. “We would have loved to have this opportunity.”

    Casting for “The Illegal Use of Joe Zopp” will be held March 17 to 19 in Chippewa Falls.

    Leave a Comment
    More to Discover

    Comments (0)

    The Spectator intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. The Spectator does not allow anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
    All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Activate Search
    Lights, Camera, Action!