When The Good Catholic debuted at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Feb. 3, 2017, Gordon Stain, associate professor and theatre department chair, had no idea his work on the film would lead to it receiving the Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema.
Strain slipped into a new role during the winter of 2015. He took a temporary hiatus from teaching to serve as the production designer for The Good Catholic.
The feature-length romantic comedy was filmed in Bloomington, Ind., and features veteran actors Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon, The Color Purple) and John C. McGinley (Scrubs, Platoon) as well as Zachary “Zach” Spicer, a Greencastle, Ind., native. The film was produced by Pigasus Pictures, a New York-based film company, co-owned and operated by Spicer and friend John Armstrong. Their friend, Paul Shoulberg, wrote the film, based on the true events of his parents’ love story. His father was a priest when he met and fell in love with his future wife.
Strain met Shoulberg, Spicer and Armstrong while attending Indiana University.
“Paul and I are old friends from graduate school. John and Zach were also at IU at the same time with us. We all played poker together every week,” said Strain.
Another tie the film has to Indiana is David Anspaugh, director of the iconic films “Rudy” (University of Notre Dame football) and “Hoosiers” (Indiana high school basketball). Anspaugh is The Good Catholic’s executive producer.
Strain’s responsibilities as production designer for the film were numerous, including building set pieces, “dressing” film locations and checking for scene continuity between takes. He even prepared the food used during a dinner scene.
“I worked closely with the director and the director of photography to make sure things looked good through the lens,” explained Strain.
Strain’s days were long and varied. He relocated to Bloomington so he could be easily accessible during the filming, which began last January.
He also used the filmmaking opportunity as a way to engage students in learning. He invited broadcast journalism major Ian Mullen, now a 2016 graduate, to be his production design assistant, and he secured a non-speaking acting role for sociology/criminology and theatre major Kiera Shackelford, currently a senior. Strain also enlisted the help of Franklin College General Trades Technician David Piland during the set design and received assistance from Director of Athletics Kerry Prather. All of them will be mentioned in the movie credits.
Strain said he was grateful for the college community’s participation and support. Strain noted that Franklin colleague Nick Crisafulli, assistant professor of theatre, graciously absorbed his classes for a couple of weeks, and Robin Roberts, associate professor of theatre, also offered assistance during his absence.
“Film is so different than theatre. Designing is different. Acting is different. Even the way we schedule our days is different. I remember as a kid thinking that being a movie star would be so cool and easy. It’s not. Nobody on set has it easy, especially when you have a smallish budget.”
For more information about the film and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, go to www.sbiff.org.
(Posted Feb. 15, 2017)