Claremont native returns for debut of feature film

Although no one will ever confuse Claremont for Hollywood, the lines will be blurred as the lights dim at Laemmle’s Claremont 5 next weekend and the narrative feature film Runoff hits the screen for a limited engagement.

Claremont native and independent film producer Kurt Pitzer, along with his writer/director wife Kimberly Levin, will return home for a Q & A with moviegoers on Saturday, July 25 and Sunday, July 26.

“I’m so happy to be able to show this film in my hometown, it’s a dream,” Mr. Pitzer says, recalling the acres of citrus groves he played in as a kid. “A lot of the film resonates with me having grown up in an agricultural setting like Claremont.”

Produced by Mr. Pitzer and written and directed by Ms. Levin, Runoff made its debut at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June 2014 and has exploded to the big screen with select showings in theaters in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Louisville, Lexington and Claremont.

As one of the top scripts in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Nicholl’s Screenwriting Competition in 2009, the storyline garnered the attention of several large movie studios; however, Ms. Levin and Mr. Pitzer chose to maintain creative control of the project.

“We had a lot of interest from bigger studios, but they wanted to change the story,” Mr. Pitzer explains. “They made comparisons to Erin Brockovich, but the story is more complex than that. It’s more than a David and Goliath story and we wanted to tell it our way, make it the way we wanted and set about casting the right actors.”

After raising $200,000 from private sources, the dynamic duo and their team spent the next several years creating a film that tells a story in a refreshing and captivating way.

The storyline focuses on Betty Freeman (Joanne Kelly), a farm wife who must take desperate measures to save her family as her husband Frank (Neal Huff) falls ill and they are threatened to be forced from their land by big business. The film delivers the twists and turns you’d want in a drama/thriller, but it’s the score and cinematography that bring you into the story.

Filmed in just 22 days against the backdrop of working farms in Kentucky, the story is described as a “stirring family drama” that asks, “How far will we go to save our families?”

“The story is loosely based on some work Kim was doing as a young biochemist, testing stream water. She’d discovered there was a tributary to Lake Cumberland that was being contaminated by a nearby underwear factory,” explains Mr. Pitzer. “It didn’t take much for her to find the stuff and she brought it to the attention of lawyers and advocates and the plant eventually closed down.”

Because Runoff is an independent film without studio backing, Mr. Pitzer and Ms. Levin were able to take their time in post-production as evidenced by the incredible sound mixing and attention to detail with each edit.

“When we realized the film didn’t have the sense of heat and feeling in the animal scenes, we borrowed a set of microphones and went back to the location to pick up those sounds,” Mr. Pitzer explains. “The sounds of a creek are different in the day as opposed to night and we wanted to capture that just right.”

Mr. Pitzer and Ms. Levin hope to expand the theatrical window for Runoff in the months ahead and look forward to the digital release in late August.

Runoff opens at Laemmle’s Claremont 5 on Friday, July 24 with show times at 1:20 p.m. and 7:10 p.m. Mr. Pitzer will be at the theater on Saturday, July 25 for a Q & A and again on Sunday, July 26 along with Ms. Levin.

Ticket are $9 for matinee and seniors, and $12 for the evening showing. Laemmle’s Claremont 5 is located at 450 W. Second St. For information about the film, visit www.runoffmovie.com

—Angela Bailey

news@claremont-courier.com

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