Newell, Lee Helming Features

Newell, Lee Helming Features

NEWELL SPRINGS HOPE: The dramatic feature HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL is currently filming in Chicago and the north and western suburbs. When 18-year-old Hope Gracin suddenly finds herself in remission from end-stage cancer, she must learn to live without an expiration date. Up-and-comer Mia Rose Frampton (daughter of music legend Peter Frampton) leads this cast, while the production team includes line producer Matt Corrado, production designer Matt Hyland, 2nd AD Tim Farrell and DP Pete Biagi. HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL is being directed by Chicago's Jack Newell, whose latest feature, OPEN TABLES, is currently on the festival circuit, and who was recently named director of Second City's new Harold Ramis Film School. Follow HOPE here; as the film forges ahead to completion, I'll keep you posted!

KICKSTARTER GOES BANANAS: Currently in post and eyeing a 2017 release, BANANA SEASON tells the story of an unlikely friendship between two very different characters. Sun is a Korean-American cage fighter who, despite his talent, never wins because he doesn't want to harm his opponents and Peter, a little person who believes he can fly like the bird his body resembles. The film follows their unexpectedly parallel journeys. Sun is played by James Kyson of NBC HEROES fame and Peter by Pancho Moler, who co-stars as a psychotic killer in the upcoming Rob Zombie film, 31. The team just wrapped up a very successful Kickstarter campaign to raise money for post, winning Indiewire's Project of the Week along the way, topping $20,000 in donations from 170 supporters. BANANA SEASON shot entirely in Chicago this past fall, by award-winning filmmakers Sanghoon Lee (writer/director) and James Choi (producer). Follow this film on facebook here.

BIG FESTIVAL WIN FOR HALFWAY: Fresh off its world premiere at the Dallas International Film Festival, the Wisconsin-made small town drama HALFWAY landed the award for Best Feature at the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival this past weekend. A recently released convict finds himself trapped between his urban criminal past and his new life on probation as the only black man in a conservative white Wisconsin farming town. Quinton Aaron, who co-starred alongside Sandra Bullock in the Oscar winner THE BLIND SIDE, stars in and executive produced the film. Click here to follow the film on its festival run.

SPEAKING OF FESTIVAL WINS: Chicago-based actor, writer and co-director Cara Greene Epstein walked away with the Best Actress Award at the Myrtle Beach International Film Festival this past weekend for her Minnesota-made feature DRAGONFLY. DRAGONFLY is a film about a struggling artist who returns home to care for her mother, uncovering family baggage and a childhood mystery she’s determined to solve. More from the film at

CHAT ONLINE: Wanna support local filmmakers? Buy their movies. Director Boris Wexler's feature CHAT is now on VOD through Gravitas Ventures. CHAT is a raw, harrowing look inside a deranged mind. Cast includes Rush Pearson, Marielle de Rocca-Serra, Roderick Peeples, Joe Mikieta, Patrick Zielinski and Caitlin Collins. Click here to buy and view CHAT instantly!

Mike McNamara is the Co-Founder of The Midwest Independent Film Festival, Mike pays his rent as an actor in Chicago in theatre, commercials, television and film. More from Mac at