Chicago-based Indie MERCURY IN RETROGRADE Announces Cast, August Start Date

Chicago-based Indie MERCURY IN RETROGRADE Announces Cast, August Start Date

Writer/director and Chicago critic Michael Glover Smith’s second feature film has just finalized its ensemble cast, combining talent from Chicago, Los Angeles, and France. “Mercury in Retrograde” is a comedy/drama about three couples from Chicago vacationing for a weekend at a lakeside cabin in Michigan. Over the course of three days, the hidden tensions that exist between various members of the group slowly come to the surface.

Sundance, Steppenwolf, Second City...

The cast includes Steppenwolf ensemble member and recent Clarence Derwent Award winner Alana Arenas; French actress/model and Sundance alum Roxane Mesquida (“Kiss of the Damned”, “Malgré la nuit”, “Kaboom”, “Gossip Girl”); Sundance alum Najarra Townsend (“Contracted”, “Me and You and Everyone We Know”); actor and Program Director of the Harold Ramis Film School at The Second City Jack Newell (“Open Tables”); actor/producer Shane Simmons (“RPG”, “Party Time Party Time”); and Kevin Wehby, who worked with Smith on his first feature “Cool Apocalypse," which releases nationally this fall after a busy festival run through the circuit. Andrew Sensenig ("Upstream Color", "We Are Still Here") will appear in a small but crucial role. Casting Director Clare Cooney brought em all together.

Producing are Shane Simmons (“Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party”), Kevin Wright of Chicago-based production company Pickle and Wink, and Clare Kosinski (“Cool Apocalypse”). Jason Chiu (“Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party”) will shoot. Filming begins August 4th all over Chicagoland, from Ukrainian Village to Rogers Park, Wilmette to South Loop, and in sunny Saugatuck, Michigan.

Simmons was drawn to the heart and intelligence of the script. "When we met, Mike [Glover Smith] talked about how he wanted to explore the ways men and women identify with and discuss their feelings about relationships, and I'm really interested in that. The main concern for me was to make sure we locked in an exceptionally good cast for the core ensemble, and I think we've definitely done that. Mike and my fellow producers, Clare Kosinski and Kevin Wright, all have an incredible work ethic, and with cinematographer Jason Chiu--who I want to work with on everything forever--this is shaping up to be a really solid production."

It started in a hotel bar in Florida...

And for producer Kevin Wright, “Mercury in Retrograde” marks a leap from the ad world back into the independent feature community. "I’d been working in the ad world for a while and wanted to get back into the feature world where I got my start," Wright told SCREEN. "I knew it had to be a project that would wow people and serendipity led me to Michael Smith. I figured this was the God of Film Noir sending me a message... doesn’t every great story start with randomly meeting in a hotel bar in Florida? After I read the script and met Shane, I was in... it was a no brainer that this is the movie I want to start my feature career with."

As this film heads into production next month... as always, I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, you can follow the feature via its Facebook page at

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