OC filmmakers take "The First Step" in SETX production
Last updated 1/31/2023 at 6:21pm
When John R. Frederick Jr., of Mauriceville, learned about the Christian film production, "The First Step," being planned for Southeast Texas by Jerry Loncon and Studio 220 Films, he jumped in with both feet. He not only auditioned, but also offered to help in any way possible with the production.
"I'm actually in a film coming up as a character but also Jerry blessed me with the capacity to be a producer," said Frederick in a podcast of "The Barefoot Director" recently.
"First of all, I did not bless John," said Loncon. "I think it's more of a curse that I gave him a producer role because that means that I have to do less than I was doing, which is fantastic because my brain is about to explode all the time." He said Frederick has been a huge help and he wouldn't have been able to get the film done without him.
Loncon gave a brief synopsis of the film.
"It is basically a drama about a man who suffered a tragedy, loses faith in God, loses faith in his friends and gets on a dark trail of revenge." Loncon said "The First Step" proves that Christians are real people. "Things happen to us as well. We don't live in a fairy tale world." He said they don't have magic genies everywhere.
"Things happen to us and we have to face those realities," said Loncon.
"It's a film that's getting a lot of buzz online."
The film started shooting mid-January with locations in Port Neches Park, Beaumont Emergency and La Suprema restaurant in Nederland.
The director of photography (DP) on the film is Travis Myers of Orange.
"Travis is probably what I consider the best director of photography anywhere south of Austin," said Loncon. "To get him working on this film was a huge win for us and of course John is the one who got him. I honestly didn't know who he was before we started, but now I won't let anyone else work on the film except Travis."
"I've worked with Travis on a couple of films already," said Frederick. He said that's what put him in the mindset of if they really wanted it to look good, they needed to get Myers.
"You gotta have Travis," is what Frederick told Loncon. The production was on such a low budget that Frederick was ready to put his money where his mouth was and cover the cost. He became executive producer on the film.
Loncon said he hadn't planned on releasing shots of the film early on, but he was so excited about the quality of the film and the performances of the actors he couldn't help it.
"I wasn't supposed to release, but I did anyways. I'm so excited. They're incredible," he said.
Myers said, "When I was first asked by John to be a part of this, I thought like wow they're asking for a lot of people, good luck on getting as many people as they need to make this happen." After reading the script, he knew the amount of crew needed was probably unobtainable with the tiny budget.
"Then it happened." He was referring to the cast and crew that grew to over 80 people that are mostly volunteers, with the majority of them being on a film set for the very first time.
"I was like holy crap; this is really working. That's kind of a miracle!" Myers said. He hoped that he would be able to add his little flavor to it, while interpreting Loncon's vision.
"Everybody else is bringing it so I'm excited to be a part of it," said Myers.
Myers is always extremely humble about his work, though he recently won awards for editing and 'color treatment in a film' for "Shhh" which was shot in Orange County in 2019. Myers was both DP and editor for that film. The award for color is a testament to Myers talent, because there was no color correction done on that film, it was as Myers shot it as the cinematographer.
The film is currently on a short shooting hiatus due to scheduling of some of the cast and crew but should resume mid-February and finish principal photography by the end of March with expected completion sometime next year.
Loncon is excited from the footage and stills already captured by Myers.
There is currently a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.com to raise funds for postproduction if you would like to help see the production to completion.
"When it's all stitched together," said Loncon, "it's gonna be fabulous."