2018-08-16 / Front Page

Dunes to serve as film backdrop

By Jen Murphy
of the Enterprise staff


SCREENWRITER NATALIE Lomske provides insight into the main character for producer and director Richard Brauer, of Brauer Productions, Inc. The two met Monday to discuss details about the story scheduled to be filmed the last week of September at Sleeping Bear Dunes. SCREENWRITER NATALIE Lomske provides insight into the main character for producer and director Richard Brauer, of Brauer Productions, Inc. The two met Monday to discuss details about the story scheduled to be filmed the last week of September at Sleeping Bear Dunes. Sleeping Bear Dunes often inspires. For a creative mind like that of Glen Arbor’s Natalie Lomski, it’s certainly the case.

In fact, the dunes were the muse behind Lomski’s screenplay, “The Sheets of Sand,” which will be filmed in part here in Leelanau County.

“I’ve been coming to the dunes since I was a child,” she said. “I’m really inspired by the beauty and the nature of the area — I guess I remembered walking along the dunes and how that made me feel, so I started writing a story about these characters that find an inspiration in the dunes to reach for their dreams and their goals from the nature around them.”

Lomski’s 10-minute short film is being produced and directed by Rich Brauer of Brauer Productions in Traverse City.

The roots of the project that sprouted this film were planted three years ago in a screenwriting service workshop, according to Brauer. “I wasn’t involved yet, but I came in during the second year,” he said. “I don’t like contests, especially artistic contests — but I came up with the idea to make it a contest where the winner gets a film produced by me.”

Of three dozen entries submitted, Lomske’s came out on top.

It was a process, though.

Once the top ten screenplays were chosen by a local panel, they were sent to a group of higher-level jurors in Los Angeles, Brauer said. Included were actors, producers and others active in the filmmaking industry.

“I wasn’t involved in the judging process, so I knew nothing about the story until yesterday (Monday),” said Brauer. “It turns out to be a story about a 23-year-old girl in a wheelchair with a debilitating illness that compromises her ability to see herself for who she really is. It’s quite poignant.”

The story required Brauer to think differently.

“I have to get in the head of a 23-year-old woman,” he said. “And my challenge is to get in the head of the writer who created a character who has cerebral palsy. But after yesterday’s meeting, I feel great about it. I completely get it.

“Whenever you direct a film, a switch has to get flipped before you can feel confident and secure about it,” Brauer explained. “And that all happened yesterday.”

Now that Brauer feels confident about his connection to the story and its characters, he’s focusing on selecting cast and crew.

“This is not a student production, really. It is, but it isn’t,” he explained. “We’ll have a ton of interns, so it will have the heart and soul of a student production but the production of a professional film crew.”

It’s the professional crew’s involvement that is exciting for Lomske. She said that “The Sheets of Sand” will be her first screenplay produced by someone who isn’t a student. “I’m excited to see how the final product turns out,” Lomske said. “It’s been a great experience so far.”

She’ll be involved throughout the filmmaking process.

“I’m planning on being on set,” Lomske said. “I’m collaborating with Rich and helping with the main character — Charlotte — who has cerebral palsy. I have friends who have that disability, so I’m helping as a consultant to help them find the character’s essence.”

The film will require a cast and crew of about 30 people, according to Brauer, and the budget is $15,000.

“I feel super good about this investment…. I’m so grateful it’s happening,” he said. “We are hoping it’s a pilot, and if people like it, we can do it again next year.”

“The Sheets of Sand” will be filmed at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore one day during the week of September 25-28.

Chief ranger Phil Akers the Lakeshore has provided a backdrop for several films.

“It’s not uncommon to have about a dozen or so per year,” he said. “We have had 10 projects so far this summer. Sometimes we have tourism shots, sometimes we have large motion pictures, or sometimes commercials.”

Productions are charged an $100 application fee, site fee and cost recovery fee, according to the Lakeshore’s website.

What will park visitors encounter on that day of filming? Besides film gear, they’ll find artists hard at work.

“You’ll see a group of focused artists, each with their own focus, all rallying around a common goal,” he said. “Anyone watching will see us having fun and having a collaborative spirit.”

Other locations in Leelanau County may become part of the film as well.

Casting for supporting actors and extras will be held in the next two weeks. The production company is seeking females in their mid-20’s with an “edgy” look: tattoos, piercings, interesting hair. If you are interested, please contact Brauer Productions, Inc., at 941-0850.

Screening of the film will likely be in winter, said Brauer, at the State Theatre. The screening will feature the 10-minute “The Sheets of Sand” film, along with a 20-minute behind-the-scenes documentary produced by Up North Media.

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