Heartland Film Festival

‘Madison’ film team produces
new sports-themed independent film

'Home of the Giants' opens in Indianapolis


(November 2007)
Read previous Don Ward columns!
Don Ward

"Madison” movie buffs may enjoy hearing that the team of filmmakers who spent the summer of 1999 on the Ohio River making the Unlimited hydroplane movie are still busy making new films. In fact, I experienced a “Madison” moment during my visit to this year’s Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis.
Rusty Gorman, a Marion, Ind., native who worked as Second Unit Director on the film “Madison,” held the world premiere of his new movie, “Home of the Giants,” on Saturday, Oct. 20 in Castleton, a northeastern suburb of Indianapolis.
The screening took place at the Clearwater Crossing 12 Cinema, one of several Heartland Film Festival screening sites. The event drew a packed house, mostly of Marion residents and Gorman family members. Gorman wrote and directed the independent film with a budget of just under $5 million.

Rusty Gorman and Danielle Panabaker

Photo provided

Film director Rusty Gorman of
Marion, Ind., and actress Danielle
Panabaker are shown on
location in Greensboro, N.C.

Also in the crowd were “Madison” movie director and co-author Bill Bindley of Indianapolis, First Assistant Director Greg Malone, who served as Associate Producer for “Madison,” and actor Mark Fauser of Marion. Fauser played the goofy Travis in the movie “Madison.” Larry Blanford, an Indiana native who filmed the boat race scenes in “Madison,” also served as Director of Photography for “Home of the Giants.”
What’s more, “Madison” actor Brent Briscoe, a Missouri native who donned a cowboy hat to play Miss Madison crew chief Tony Steinhardt, had a prominent role in Gorman’s film. Briscoe dons a mustache to play a villainous bar owner in “Home of the Giants.” The role is quite a stretch from his hydroplane race team character.
“Home of the Giants” (www.homeofthegiants.com) is a coming-of-age story told through the eyes of Robert “Gar” Gartland, a high school journalist who covers the basketball team as it heads toward a state championship. Gar’s best friend, Matt Dunbar (actor Ryan Merriman), is the team’s star. But when Matt is duped by his drug-dealing brother Keith (actor Kenneth Mitchell) to throw the state championship game so his brother can cash in on a bet, Gar inevi-tably gets caught in the middle.
Gar is played by child star Haley Joel Osment, an Academy Award-nominated actor who flew in from New York to attend the premiere and the Crystal Heart Awards ceremony, held later that evening at Conseco Fieldhouse. After the movie screening at Heartland, Osment and Gorman fielded several questions from the crowd. Osment said he was inspired by his experience of working with Gorman and now wants to be a director. He attends New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he is studying film.
Osment, now 19, has acting in his blood. He is the son of Los Angeles theatrical actor Michael Eugene Osment (who incidentally has a small role as a police officer) and Theresa Osment, a teacher. His sister is actress Emily Osment of the Disney Channel TV series “Hannah Montana.”
He got his start in Hollywood filming a pizza commercial. That led to dozens of other roles in film and television. For instance, at age 6 he played Forrest Gump’s son in “Forrest Gump” with Tom Hanks. At age 10 he starred in the 1999 thriller “Sixth Sense” with actor Bruce Willis. He most recently starred in “Pay It Forward” and “A.I.”
For Gorman, who resides in Chicago, this was his first solo directorship, although he has worked on many other projects. Gorman and Bindley go back to their days as film students at Northwestern University in Chicago. They were in the class of 1984 together. Following graduation, they collaborated on a 24-minute, sports-themed short film, “Sportsman’s Field.” It took top honors at film festivals in Chicago, Houston and Canada.

Haley Joel Osment

Haley Joel Osment

From there, the two pursued separate careers, but their paths crossed again with “Madison,” filmed in 1999 and funded by a group of Chicago investors. They are credited as associate directors in “Miracle Beach,” filmed in 1992.
Gorman also worked on such films as “The Abyss,” “Think Big,” and “Zombie High.” He has also produced other shorts and industrial and promotional films.
The son of a dentist, Gorman and his wife now has three small children and reside in Chicago.
Bindley, meanwhile is developing a gritty high school prison drama for 20th Century Fox and Sacco & Vanzetti. It is the true story of the legendary 1927 murder trial of two Italian immigrants and stars John Turturro.
In his post-screening remarks, Gorman thanked Bindley for allowing him to “sleep on his couch” at Bindley’s Los Angeles apartment during filming of the movie in L.A. Much of the movie was shot in Greensboro, N.C.
Asked why he doesn’t shoot more movies in Indiana, Gorman explained that the state does not offer tax incentives like many other states to help filmmakers cut production costs. He said Louisiana, New Mexico and North Carolina are among a handful of states that offer huge incentives that are not being ignored by today’s filmmakers.
Asked about the toughest part of making a movie, Gorman said it is the short amount of time a crew has to film scenes because the actors are usually on a tight schedule, and anything can – and usually does – happen to create challenges to getting the job done.
Prior to the “Home of the Giants” screening, Gorman said he had fond memories of his time spent in Madison. He said sales of the movie DVD have done well, adding, “It takes a while for momentum to build for an independent film.”
He may not have to wait long for momentum to catch up to “Home of the Giants.” He told the audience that he should know “in a couple of weeks” on a possible film distribution offer by a major company.
“Madison” movie fans know from experience that it can often take months – or even years – before the world takes notice of an independent film that has the potential to be widely accepted by the public. “Madison” wrapped in 1999 and was shown at the January 2001 Sundance Film Festival, receiving rave reviews. But it did not see its limited nationwide film release until April 2005 – a span of five years.
Either way, it’s good to know that the same group of Hoosiers who made “Madison” are seeing their creative spirits shine in other projects that have the promise to make it to the big screen.

• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: Don@RoundAboutMadison.com.


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