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Local film to premiere at Alamo Drafthouse

By Laetitia Clayton - lclayton@nvdaily.com

Two local, grass-roots filmmakers will premiere one of their movies at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Winchester at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

"Maxwell Stein," a classic-style, black-and-white horror film, was produced by Fourth Planet Films, based in Aldie.

Everyone involved in making the movie is a Virginia resident, says Fourth Planet Films producer and co-owner Jeffrey Jones, including the actors, set builders and makeup artists.

"We're lucky we have a lot of creative people around us," Jones says of himself and co-owner Dale Jackson. "We've got access to a lot of people who want to be in this industry."

For example, the people who built the sets for the movie had never even built one before, Jones says, but "they're such great artists and they build amazing sets."
The filming also took place in Virginia.

"Maxwell Stein was filmed 100 percent in Loudoun County, inside of a warehouse in Chantilly and in and around Aldie and Middleburg," Jones says.

The movie, which was Jackson's idea and written by Jones, is about an aging film director in the 1940s who finds a haunted film camera that helps him complete his final project.

The title role is played by 89-year-old Middleburg resident Jules Watzich, who retired from an engineering career about 10 years ago and discovered a passion for acting.

Making the movie took about two years, Jones says, and cost less than $10,000.

"But it looks like it cost several million," he says. "We can use high definition video instead of film and get really creative with old-style filmmaking."

Jones cites the friendliness and helpful nature of people in Virginia as another reason he and Jackson can make their films for less. For example, they shot a scene at the Aldie Mill, a historic site, Jones says, and they were able to do that for free.

Both Jones and Jackson come from musical backgrounds and met when they worked at a music store in Springfield. Both men had a passion for films, and Jones graduated from the screenwriting program at UCLA.

The company is "a labor of love that Dale and I started five years ago," Jones says, adding that the two of them do all the writing, editing, producing and directing in-house.
"Maxwell Stein" is the second movie the two have made, but it's their first feature-length film.

In 2005, they made a short Civil War film called "Sons of Virginia." It was made for less than $1,000 but won best short film at the Hollywood HD Film Festival, as well as awards for best sound design and best costumes.

That first movie started the tradition of working in Virginia and with Virginia residents, Jones says, though it was out of necessity at first.

"We had no money and we wanted to make the film," he says. "We started working with Virginia people and realized that they're great.

"The real big thing is that we like being hands-on, and people here are so willing to help. We like the whole Virginia thing. We'd like to stay here."

"Maxwell Stein" has been chosen to screen at the Bare Bones Film Festival in Oklahoma next month, Jones says. It has also been submitted to several other film festivals, and Jones says they are waiting to hear if it's been accepted. Meanwhile, plans are in the works to make another movie.

"We have a clear plan in place," Jones says. "I think 'Maxwell Stein' is probably the one that's going to do it for us."

For now, he says they are excited to be showing the movie in Winchester.

"The Alamo has been one of the best things that's happened," he says. "We're so excited that we met Steve [Nerangis]," who owns the cinema in Winchester.

The entire cast and crew will attend Sunday's premiere to meet with people and answer questions. Tickets are $5 and available only at the Alamo box office. Tickets for the general public will be limited to 60. Seating starts at 4:15 p.m., with the show beginning at 5 p.m.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is at 181 Kernstown Blvd. in Winchester. For more information, call 313-4060.


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