Making a movie in Naperville, Paul Sorvino ‘enjoying it here a lot’
BY ERIKA WURST Sun-Times Media June 13, 2013 8:20PM
Production stills from the movie Precious Mettle being filmed in the Naperville area. Photo Credit: Jonathan Gibby / Amarok Productions
Updated: July 15, 2013 7:41PM
If you want to work in movies, you go where the movies are. For Paul Sorvino (of “Goodfellas” fame), that philosophy landed him smack dab in the middle of Naperville last week.
“In this business, if you want to keep working, you go where the work is,” said Sorvino as he sat in the backyard of a beautiful home on North Center Street . “Sometimes that means working on a big picture. Sometimes that means working on a small picture. For me, I don’t really care. It is more about the material.”
Sorvino will be in town until June 24 for the filming of Amarok Productions’ feature film “Precious Mettle.” Crews will be setting up shop at several locations throughout Naperville and Aurora this month.
Sorvino plays a retired cop on a quest to rid his long-lost daughter of her heroin addiction, all while solving the murder of his best friend. The story, according to local director-writer Edmond Coisson, is about redemption. It’s about taking second chances and refusing to believe it’s too late to become who you want to be.
“It always starts with the script,” he said. “Is the material good? That is always the No. 1 [priority].”
The film’s producer, DeAnna Cooper, knows this logic well. Cooper and husband Kevin left California five years ago to bring their Hollywood experience at Fox Studios and New Line Cinema to the Midwest.
“We want to take people from this community and help them grow with our company,” Cooper said of Amarok’s mission.
That’s not to say Cooper didn’t bring a little Hollywood home with her.
Coisson never imagined a guy like Sorvino would be playing the lead when he began the casting process.
With a budget of $50,000 (which has since gone up significantly), Coisson was looking at lower-scale actors for the role. The director sifted through tons of actors before Cooper dropped Sorvino’s name.
“There is no way he is interested,” Coisson said. “You have got to be kidding me.”
She wasn’t. Sorvino had read the script and asked Coisson to give him a call.
To Coisson, this was the equivalent of “calling the pope.”
“He is one of my favorite actors,” he said. “Within 30 minutes, we were talking like we were old buddies from 20 years ago. By bringing him on board, the movie has more power than I ever envisioned.”
A native of Italy, Coisson began writing the script 15 years ago, first as a short film called “72 H.” He used his experience living in Amsterdam and dealing with the drug epidemic around him as a starting point for the script.
Years later, he decided to turn that script into a feature film, creating a larger world around the two main characters, Frank (Sorvino) and his long-lost daughter, Judy, played by Fiona Dourif (“True Blood,” “Curse of Chucky”), daughter of actor Brad Dourif.
“It was a chunk of clay that was already molded that I crafted into a beautiful statue,” he said of the film’s progress.
A chance meeting with executive producer Leonard Brink 15 months ago helped expedite the process. Cooper jumped on board, and the rest is history in the making.
It’s a history that locals can also revel in.
The filming was kept local because “I wanted to give to the community what the community has given to me,” said Coisson, a founder of the Naperville Independent Film Festival.
Shoots will take place at the North Center Street home, where Sorvino’s character lives, as well as three residences in Aurora.
Three scenes also will be shot at Peanuts Bar and Grill in downtown Naperville, which will be transformed into several different locations throughout a single day of shooting.
The local digs are a far cry from Sorvino’s favorite set to date, which was in Costa Del Sol in Spain during the filming of “A Touch of Class” (1973).
But he is enjoying the Midwest while he’s here.
“It was a marvelous time,” he said of playing tennis at a local country club. “I’m enjoying it here a lot.”
For more information, visit preciousmettlethemovie.com.
Erika Wurst, Sun-Times Media