BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Actress Julianne Moore is on the silver screen as a free-spirited divorcee in Gloria Bell, with a nationwide release of March 22. Clarkston native Shea Kammer was on set through the filming.
Kammer, a 1993 Clarkston High School graduate, was line producer on the film.
“I am the producer responsible for all the nuts, bolts and logistics of making the movie,” he explained during a phone interview.
He added while other producers may have six projects going on at the same time, as line producer he has one project and it receives all of his attention 24 hours a day, seven days a week until the filming ends.
“I am on location hiring the crew, doing the schedule, doing the budget, working with the casting,” he said.
Kammer explained Gloria Bell was an interesting project. Moore had seen Gloria, the Chile film written and directed by Sebastian Lelio.
“She saw the original and loved it so much she talked to Sebastian about starring in an American version,” Kammer said. “It’s basically the story of an older, divorced woman living in Los Angeles. She is trying to find herself and trying to find love. She goes out to dance clubs for older people, single bars. It’s a slice of life on what it’s like to be single in your 50s.”
Kammer received a phone call from his agent that there was a producer interested in making the movie and could he put a budget together for them.
“It was about a year from that phone call, we started filming,” he said, explaining sometimes things take a while to get money raised and for everyone’s schedules to work out.
Gloria Bell filmed in the fall of 2017 with five weeks spent in Los Angeles and one week in Las Vegas. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018 before opening in limited release on March 8.
“It did very well,” Kammer said, adding it was exciting the release was expanding to more movie theaters. “It’s been getting a lot of attention on the news and various interviews. I am very proud of how it turned out.”
He added he is happy to see films made about subjects which don’t receive a lot of attention in usual blockbuster and big budget movies.
“It was very attractive to me to work on a film about older people who you don’t get to usually see star in film,” Kammer said. “And to work with Julianne Moore, who is legendary and who I have never been able to work with, was exciting.”
Kammer’s next project coming out at the end of this year is Harriet, a movie about Harriet Tubman, currently in post-production.
“I am very excited about that one,” he said. “I was shocked when I got a phone call about it to realize there really hasn’t been a Harriet Tubman movie yet. There have been some TV projects about her life, but there has never been a definitive feature film. I spent over half the year working on it. They filmed it in Virginia with an amazing cast, award-winning director, costume designers and and cinematographers. It really turned out fantastic. I think people are going to enjoy it.”
He added filming Harriet was interesting because of the conditions they faced while filming.
“They were probably the toughest I have worked in,” Kammer explained. “For starters the story is largely set running through the woods in the middle of the night going through mud, crossing rivers. We had two hurricanes go through the area while we were filming. So there was a lot environmental challenges on the project. Plus, it’s set in the 1850s so lots of wardrobe, horses, trains and period boats had to be figured out. Despite how challenging it was every single day watching the actors bring the script to life, you didn’t mind it was so tough to get made because it was for a good reason and we were making something really special.”
Kammer explained if a film company is looking for a line producer they will contact an agent. But most of the time they find him through word of mouth and connections he has made over the years.
“I do a lot of budgets for projects,” he said. “It’s really the second step after writing the script to get a movie made. It’s amazing, I could do 100 budgets and two of them become movies. There are a lot of great projects. It’s hard to raise enough money to make a feature film.”
Kammer moved to Los Angeles right after college.
“I think in part to escape the snow,” he laughed. “I loved movies my entire life. I remember every Saturday growing up, I would go see a double feature with my dad. We would see everything that came out at Showcase Cinema.”
He added after moving to California he had entry level jobs on movies and each year he advanced further.
“I actually started working in the accounting department, just paying the bills and doing the payroll,” Kammer said. “Through that I found and learned how movies got made and where they spent the money.”
He moved on to production management and then to producing.
His advice for anyone aspiring to work in the film and television industry is to get out there and do it.
“It might seem kind of simple,” Kammer said. “Go work as a PA on a project. Movies get made all across the country. I know in Michigan they still make a few movies per year. Do whatever it takes – go work on a PA on set, go intern, go ask to visit the production office. All it takes is you meet one person out of 200 working on the project and they can lead you to the next project. It’s like following a trail of bread crumbs. Each job, you hope to find a slightly better job. Eventually people will ask you to travel to different places to work for them. It’s not about how much money you are making off the bat, it’s getting the experience. The people who work hard ultimately succeed.”
As for his hometown, he has a dream to come back.
“I absolutely miss Clarkston,” Kammer shared. “My dream is to one day get to go back and film there, which I think would be really cool.”