The world, as chaotic as it may be, can never seem to get its fill of films that make everyday issues appear miniscule in comparison. This ever-present theme hits home, literally, with new local film, Consumed.
Consumed, a dramatic thriller which was once known as Food, tackles the newly sensitive topic of Genetically Modified Organisms. A mother attempts to reveal the cause of her son’s sickness while intertwining the stories of an organic farmer, the CEO of a biotechnology corporation, two scientists, and a cop throughout her journey. Consumed combines the topics of food and science and their constant correlation through a sociopolitical viewpoint to bring the elements of the story from fiction to what could be fact. Famous names like Danny Glover, Anthony Edwards, and Victor Garber were able to join the cast of the topical film. It is the location of the film, however, that brings the national interest surrounding the premise back home.
Brett Hays, the co-owner of the Shatterglass Studios in Champaign — and soon to be producer of Consumed — received a call from Zoe Lister-Jones, the actress, writer and producer, and Daryl Wein, the director, producer and writer, where the duo talked of filming a movie in the Midwest. Hays says he knew after receiving the job that Champaign-Urbana would be the perfect location to get the film going.
“The script took place in a rural town, a university town that had farms and a university campus,” said Hays. “I said that this was literally ideal for this community. There needed to be an organic farmer and an organic farm, and I told them that that was literally Champaign-Urbana they were describing. Even though the film takes place in Iowa, I told them what they wanted was here.”
The idea, as in the beginning of most tales of success, was not accepted. Hays says, “for most people Illinois is Chicago,” and with Champaign not having a Film Office at the time or “literature supporting the fact that films can be made here,” the concept of filming in such a location was received with hesitancy. With enthusiasm, and personally vouching that Champaign could stand the job, Hays convinced them, beginning what the director would sum up as “literally the best experience they’d ever had while working on a film.”
With a crew now calling Champaign-Urbana home for the duration of filming, businesses and local resources found their home, and funding, in the world of Consumed. Filming Consumed locally brought quite a bit of money into Champaign-Urbana’s economy and showcased the support the community is willing to offer for a form of art that takes more than one person.
“We need location; we need food, housing, props, and clothing,” said Hays. “People who live here for a month and a half need a place to go eat and entertainment and a place to shop. There are so many elements. It’s completely a community thing. There was so much that came from [bringing this film here]. Not only were businesses paid and people made money, but I think people also got an idea about a new industry that can be here.”
Local businesses received a taste of film, and a community joined resources to bring a film to life. Hays says that the success of filming in the area (minus the setback of not being able to move a cow for scenes in the film) will hopefully be “a pilot to what Champaign is able to do.”
“For one, it not only shows audiences that see it, but it really shows location managers, studios and others that the next time they want to make a film about farmland in the US or a college town, consider us because we have the resources and the support to do it,” said Hays. “Someone able to watch [Consumed] can say that this is proof that this can happen.”
The film, which was set to premiere November 17th, sold out in the first three hours, making the need for extra showings a necessity. Hays says with such a large following, the support that all films need to be made is “absolutely here.”
“[The show selling out] shows that not only can we make a film here, but we can support it as well. That says a lot for local filmmakers.”
The world of film may visit Champaign-Urbana during Ebertfest, but Consumed, according to Hays, shows what this location has to offer.
“There was so much that came from [bringing this film here],” said Hays. “We have such a supportive infrastructure for collaborations on film and art. Everything is here, so there’s no reason why there can’t be more.”
Consumed will premiere at the Art Theatre Co-op at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17th, to a sold-out house. Tickets are still available for the later screening at 9:30 p.m. and Wednesday, November 18th at 6 p.m. & 8:30 p.m.