Dec. 01--Ever since he set foot in Kansas, Florida native and filmmaker Dustin Whitehead knew it was a place he wanted to shoot a film.
"This is like nothing I had ever seen before," Whitehead said of Kansas. "It felt surreal. I grew up in Florida and was used to things a certain way. Kansas is very different and not what I expected. The sunrises and the sunsets are beautiful, which will work really well on film."
Whitehead first visited Kansas on a trip with his wife, Sadie Myers. Now, he is gearing up to shoot "Somewhere in the Midwest" in Salina and Assaria, Sadie's hometown.
"This is a coming-of-age drama about a young man from Kansas who is at odds with his parent's divorce," Whitehead said. "There will be the natural beauty that is inherent in Kansas mixed with the essence of the fantastical and magical."
Filming will take place from Jan. 2 to 12. Actors will be coming from around the world to be part of the independent short film.
"This is a creative project I have wanted to do for a long time," Whitehead said. "The first time I came here, I wanted to make a movie here. The land, the structures and grain elevators. They contribute to the images in the film. The tractors and the machines that exist here -- they are very big and larger than life. It feels fantastical."
Studied the trade
Whitehead studied acting at DePaul University in Chicago before attending New York University's Tisch School of Arts in Singapore. He graduated in 2012.
Whitehead met Myers while at DePaul when she was working as a live-in nanny near a film set. The two met when she stopped by the set.
Whitehead and Myers have a 1-year-old, Amos. Amos will play a small role in the movie.
Whitehead currently does videography for the University of Chicago's business school's projects but hopes to do more filmmaking.
"Somewhere in the Midwest" will be Whitehead's third short film. A short film is any film less than 20 minutes in length.
"It has got a decent budget," Whitehead said. "Most of the actors are people I met in school and they are working for free or low wages because they believe in me and want to come to Kansas to see this thing get made."
He started planning the film six to eight months ago. He said it will take another six to eight months to finish before it is submitted to film festivals. He wants to screen it at the Salina Art Center, as well.
Most of the actors will be professionals from across the world but Whitehead plans to have a few roles for Salinans in the film.
Whitehead said he is working with people in the community to secure locations for filming. He is searching for an old farmhouse to be used as the family home in the film. People can contact him at Whiteheaddustin@gmail.com.
Whitehead is also looking for people interested in helping cater or other film-related needs.
"We are all about getting involved in the community and helping the community be part of this film," Whitehead said.
Whitehead said people probably will see his crews filming. He doesn't mind if they stop by to watch.
"I've been going around, taking pictures and doing locations scouting," Whitehead said. "I've been talking to people about how the landscape looks at different times of the day. It has been a beautiful experience so far."
-- Reporter Chris Hunter can be reached at 822-1422 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c)2013 The Salina Journal (Salina, Kan.)
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