‘Heroes Rising’ debuts
Gerold hosts preview screening
By Angie Landsverk
The students involved in last summer’s film workshop got to see the results of their work this past weekend.
The preview screening of “Heroes Rising: A New Hope” took place on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Gerold Opera House in downtown Weyauwega.
“This is a preview. Some of the special effects are not perfect. There are are still tweaks,” Ian Teal said before the film opened with a red 1990 Mazda Miata heading down a country road.
Teal is the executive director of Wega Arts, the nonprofit that worked on the project.
He directed and edited the film.
Kathy Fehl, artistic director of Wega Arts, wrote the story about a group of teenagers who morph into superheroes and take on the opio and heroin epidemic.
“This is our preliminary, first time you’re here screening,” she said.
Fehl said she became aware of the heroin issue in area communities through her involvement in the Waupaca Breakfast Rotary Club.
Wega Arts wanted to teach students narrative film making and include a civic theme in the teaching, she said.
Fehl and Teal worked on the project with Jesse Heffernan.
Heffernan is a certified recovery coach with at least 15 years in long-term recovery from substance abuse.
In early 2016, he facilitated several meetings in Waupaca as people in the community worked to address issues related to heroin.
Amanda Loehrke, who is a senior at Weyauwega-Fremont High School, was part of the film workshop.
She knew there was a heroin problem in the area and said she learned more about that problem doing the film.
Her sister, Sabrina, did the set design for the film.
Loehrke was behind the wheel of that red Mazda Miata in the film’s opening scene.
Seated next to her was Nick Jungers, who is a 2014 graduate of Waupaca High School and a junior at Columbia College, in Chicago.
Soon, Dr. Fred Raschke’s chiropractic office in Weyauwega was on the screen.
Wega Arts used it for the filming of the scene in which the character Jungers played went to see his physician regarding a knee injury.
Singer/songwriter Steve March-Tormé played the role of the physician.
Scenes from W-F High School’s locker room and a space inside Crossroads Care Center of Weyauwega were among those that followed as the story unfolded.
The opera house was full of those who had been involved in the filming of “Heroes Rising: A New Hope” and those there to support them and get the first glimpses of their work.
Tim Dietzen, administrator of Crossroads Care Center of Weyauwega, and Weyauwega Police Chief Gerald Poltrock were among them.
Both of them had lines in the film.
Dietzen, who prepared lunch for the students last summer as they worked on the project and made Saturday evening’s pasta dinner as well, drew a few laughs during the screening.
One of his lines in the film was, “We have muffins and coffee,” which he said several times during the portion of the film involving a community center meeting.
About 15 students were involved in the production of the film.
“It was a great opportunity to find out what I want to do in my life,” said Thomas Lovely, who hopes to study film at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
During the workshop, the students learned about story boards and contributed in many ways, Fehl said.
Craig Anthony Knitt did improv with the students and also the cartoon graphics for the film.
Lucinda Martochko-Rittich did the costumes, and Natalie Keizer did the makeup.
Teal did the location scouting and recalled how hot it was on the Friday last July when they spent the day filming in various locations.
He said it was a long day.
Fehl said footage of U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and former U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble will be added, and Teal told those in attendance to note if any names were missing in the credits.
Teal said their distribution plan is to get the film and the curriculum that goes along with it into high schools so students become aware and proactive.
Their outreach will begin in local school districts and then move to other communities.
Heffernan and Adam Racette, who was the composer, will be involved.
Teal said the film may also be in Appleton’s Wildwood Film Festival this March.
For Heffernan, being part of the project allowed him to talk to the students about his experiences and what is happening in the state.
He said schools have the opportunity to use the film as a tool.
Loehrke said the film has an important message for teens.
She is glad she was part of it.
“It’s weird seeing yourself on the screen when you’ve never done that before,” Loehrke said. “I’ve never done a film. Playing the role of the antagonist was a first-time experience as well.”
She said it was interesting to learn about the different aspects of making a film.
Loehrke’s hope is that as schools begin to show the film, students get the message and “if they’re affected by anything in the movie find someone to talk to about it and get the help they need.”