Personal Filmmaking

It’s the end of another year, and many of us are reflecting on the past twelve months and making plans and resolutions for 2014.

On Friday, December 27, 2013, the Redford Theatre hosted the screening of a film that represented the dreams of its creators, who hope it will get a wider audience in the new year.

The movie Waterwalk starred and was directed by Robert Cicchini, a Hollywood veteran who is also a native of Redford Township. The movie traced the canoe journey of a father and son from St. Ignace, Michigan to St. Louis, Missouri, as they tried to duplicate the 1673 journey of Father Jacques Marquette and fur trader Louis Joliet to find a route to the Pacific Ocean.

The movie was based on a book about this same journey that was actually taken by author Steven Faulkner and his son Justin. The physical effort to re-trace this journey was evident on the screen, as the stars and the production crew worked their way through different challenges, like rising river water and obstructions like fallen trees.

Cicchini remarked, “I don’t think I ever felt danger, but there were a couple of times when I felt the awesomeness of the power of the river and the lake beneath me.

“I can just describe it as awesome, where you realize you’re a guest here and this thing beneath you is huge and powerful and grandiose, and I got that feeling on the Mississippi River especially. Being out in the middle of the Mississippi River in a canoe is something special, really spectacular.”

Cicchini appeared in person at the Redford showing of Waterwalk, along with co-star Chase Maser, producer Roger Rapoport, and cinematographer Bruce Schermer. After the screening of the film, the men fielded comments and questions from the audience about the creation of of Waterwalk.

One audience member enthusiastically exclaimed, “I just wanted to say that this is one of the better movies that I have ever seen ever. I just wish you were up for a Golden Globe. This is what movies are all about. Not computer graphics. Not special effects. Real emotions, real people, and very dramatic acting.”

It was Cicchini’s first movie as a director. It was also the first film produced by Rapoport, who published Faulkner’s book. As the filmmakers spoke, you could feel their personal sense of pride and accomplishment. It had that same positive vibe that I’ve felt at similar events at the Detroit Film Theatre (Cinetopia Selections) and Michigan Theater (Life is for Living).

An audience member asked if there were any problems with financing the movie. Cicchini responded, “This was a hard won, hard fought movie, and all of us really worked hard—physically, emotionally.”

Rapoport added, “We were very fortunate that the movie was financed by a group of 65 individuals who were also from west Michigan and these were the people who we were able to continually draw on, based in our community, to support the film, so we were very, very fortunate.

“But the big story about this filming, which I think is quite remarkable, is we’ve now screened it for about 160 audiences like this one, and that’s very rare for an independent film that doesn’t have a distributor, which we do not. And only then, through the kindness of theater owners, like the Redford.”

Waterwalk is currently available on DVD from the movie’s web site and through video-on-demand outlets. Rapoport, Cicchini, and Maser recently finished another movie (Pilot Error), with plans to screen it at the Redford.

Waterwalk drew a good turnout for a movie that was not on the original printed Redford schedule. Many in the crowd enjoyed the Christmas decorations, including the train set by the stage and the Christmas trees in the front lobby and auditorium. Everyone could relax and enjoy the fun of the season without the pressure of preparing for Christmas Day.

The Redford gets its new year off to a suspenseful start on January 3 and 4, 2014 with the 1943 Alfred Hitchcock thriller Shadow of a Doubt. The new year will also bring many Alfred Hitchcock movies to the Detroit Film Theatre and Michigan Theater.

The January-April 2014 Redford schedule includes John Wayne’s Oscar-winning performance in True Grit on January 31 and February 1; the 1952 musical Singin’ in the Rain on March 28 and 29; and the 1959 epic Ben Hur on April 11 and 12.

Detroit Movie Palaces Home Page

Copyright © 2013 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.

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