Nov. 04--Production on the golf-themed film "The Squeeze" lines up its last swing as cast and crew prepare to wrap local filming this week.
Beginning just three weeks ago, production should end Wednesday before filmmakers head to Las Vegas for five days to shoot the film's climax.
"The Squeeze" follows Augie (Jeremy Sumpter), a talented young golfer who becomes involved with a gambler named Riverboat (Christopher McDonald), who realizes he can make money off his new protege's talent. Under Riverboat's wing, Augie learns firsthand the high stakes of the gambling world as the pair travel across Texas setting up matches before ending up under the bright lights of Vegas.
For McDonald, the film offered up the chance to tackle a character unlike anything he has played.
"I was particularly interested in playing this gambler, Riverboat, who is very showy because he came from nothing and wants to give the appearance that he is successful," he said. "But he is also very, very dangerous and that is a lovely mix to play in a character because the stakes are quite high."
McDonald, who is perhaps best known for his role as Shooter McGavin in "Happy Gilmore," said both may have a similar subject but stand apart.
"'Happy Gilmore' was a story that just happened to be about golf and a hockey player that couldn't really play except for his phenomenal slapshot," the actor said. "'The Squeeze' is a different kind of golf-centric story where I don't play golf but I know I can do a lot of damage in the gambling world with this young golfer."
Producer George Parra said he threw his support behind the film as soon as he read the script.
"For me, when choosing projects, it is really about the script and if it is any good. This script was very good, so I jumped in headfirst," said Parra, who recently produced the Academy Award-winning "Silver Linings Playbook," "The Way Way Back" and the upcoming "American Hustle."
Terry Jastrow, who has had an illustrious career behind the camera of sporting events such as Super Bowl and several Olympics Games, makes his feature-film directorial debut. Jastrow's experience in sports, Parra said, makes him the perfect director because he also acts as the golf pro.
Jastrow's wife, Academy Award-nominated actress Anne Archer ("Fatal Attraction"), is producing alongside Parra and Michael Doven.
Although Parra said production has run smoothly in Wilmington, it wasn't the first choice to host the film. In late September, the planned shoot in Colorado was scrapped when adequate crew could not be located. When searching for new locations, Parra said he was quick to offer up the Port City as a contender, having produced three films here before.
"Once Terry visited, it was a slam dunk. I really like the people and locations in Wilmington, and the open-arms film community that wants you to come make your movie here," Parra said.
McDonald had also traveled to the Port City before arriving for "The Squeeze." In 1994, he filmed the comedy "The Teacher's Wife" and returned in 1998 for the hacker thriller "Takedown."
"It is a really nice place to return to. I could live here," he said. "It is just a beautiful, beautiful place and the people are always accommodating."
While in town, production has filmed at several golfing establishments around town, including the Cape fear Club and the Wilmington Muicipal Golf Course.
While production still has a few more days (and miles) to go, Parra said that the producing team has already envisioned a post-production strategy.
"The goal is to get 'The Squeeze' into film festivals, get reaction and then open in theaters," he said. "I think audiences will be very motivated to see it because it is a PG-13 film that the whole family can enjoy."
Hunter Ingram: 343-2327
On Twitter: @WilmonFilm
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