Film: The Fresh Air Will Do You Good
Breathe Deeply The Fresh Air Will Do You Good
By Madelyn Ritrosky and Jared WInslow
Looking for something different and fun? Well, the fresh air will do you good, so says director Jim Dougherty. He knows what he’s talking about. The Fresh Air Will Do You Good, a fun sci-fi yarn he directed, had its premiere recently at the second annual B Movie Celebration in Franklin, Indiana.
Having visited the set of Fresh Air in June when they filmed a scene near Nashville, IN, Jared and I were eager to see the premiere and talk with Jim Dougherty, a filmmaker, actor, and stuntman based in Anderson, Indiana. According to Jim, the 45-min film we saw was 95% finished and we enjoyed it.
Fresh Air will be marketed as a one-hour television program along with Blood Moon, which also premiered at the B Movie Celebration, to outlets like the Sci-Fi Channel. These films will premiere online as well at a new website called Digiflick. According to Jim, it will “stream B cinema on a pay-per-view basis, which will provide opportunities for new filmmakers.” It’s currently a test site, but Fresh Air will be one of the first offerings.
None of the above can be mentioned without noting the participation of Bill Dever, president of Indy Film Co-Op. Dever produced and directed Blood Moon, runs the B Movie Celebration, assisted with production of Fresh Air by 3 O’clock Productions and the Indy Film Co-Op, and is involved in setting up Digiflick.
Fresh Air follows an overnight camping trip that goes awry when two men encounter an alien presence in two forms: a glowing seashell-type object that invisibly ‘infects’ one of the men and another who has already disguised herself as a cop in her pursuit of the other one.
Director Jim Dougherty, who also gets producer and story credits, was already working on the buddy story a year ago when Bill Dever put out the idea of the Indy Film Co-Op producing a series of short films. A poll of the 2300+ membership determined the genre science fiction.
Jim’s daughter, Gemma Gould-Dougherty, who was 12 at the time, came up with the sci-fi twist that turned Jim’s buddy story into a sci-fi adventure, and that led Jim and one of his production partners, writer Jay Hinkelman, to flesh out the new story.
By May they had their shooting script. By June they were shooting four and a half days in which they shot six days’ worth of material. The heavy rains and flooding in Indiana necessitated last-minute reorganizing.
Although he became interested in filmmaking at the age of 12, he was a theater major at Indiana University. His interest in theater was broad and he couldn’t decide among the options, doing a little of everything. Even today, when we asked him his favorite job, he said, “I like all of it! I really enjoy editing but then I really enjoy acting, too.”
When he moved to Chicago after graduation, he shot a friend’s student films. That friend, Kevin Guzowski, and Jim made a film together eighteen years ago, calling themselves 3 O’Clock Productions.
Photo left: Actor Raymond Kester during that car chase scene where he's strapped on with a parachute harness.
Today, 3 O’Clock Productions, LLC, has four partners: Jim Dougherty, Jay Hinkelman, Cameron Bourquein, and Ronn Johnstone. The Fresh Air Will Do You Good is the production company’s first official release. Although they shot a short titled Waffles for Virginia, post-production isn’t quite done. It has a planned release for January 2009.
Jared was especially interested in Jim’s stunt work. While we were on set in June, we watched one of Jim’s apprentices dive into the lake to clear the way for the actor to do it.
Jim has done stunt work on a number of films, including Michael, and he told Jared that “stepping out of the shower everyday can be more dangerous.” Stunt work involves “very safe measures” to protect people, but perhaps his most dangerous stunt was falling 25 feet off a building.
With Fresh Air, Jim coordinated what he called “fun stunts,” including one of the actors hanging off the back of a car as two cars sped down a country highway. He let Jared in on the trick to that one: he said “a parachute harness strapped actor Raymond Kester to the convertible.” You can see the strap, but it looks like it’s the seat belt.
Photo left: (l to r) Actors Raymond Kester, Nicholas Jaqua, and Gigi Erneta
According to Hollywood standards, Fresh Air would be considered a no-budget film. Actual budget? About $8,000. But as Jim explained, “If you can find people with a passion for this, you can put out something good.”
Most of the cast and crew are Indiana-based. The exceptions are Gigi Erneta, a veteran actress based in Texas who got top billing and plays the alien cop, and two crew members who came up from Tennessee. In addition to Erneta and Kester, the other actors in the film are Nicholas Jaqua and Rhonda Tinch-Mize.
As our interview wound down, Jim stressed “how important the Indy Film Co-Op is in developing films for the state and regionally.” Yet membership is national and international in scope; the writer of Blood Moon, for example, is from the UK.
(l to r) Nicholas Jaqua, Rhonda Tinch-Mize, Raymond Kester, Gigi Erneta, Jim Dougherty at the premiere of the film
When Bill Dever walked up, he was effusive in his praises of Jim Dougherty. The Fresh Air Will Do You Good is “a real triumph for Indiana. Jim is able to tell a story in a focused and finite manner. It’s the best film that I’ve seen produced in the Indiana market. It’s an organic, homespun, creative product.”
Other film projects in development at 3 O’Clock Productions are: Family Forge, a feminist Western where the central character is female; an untitled feature based on John Hiatt’s song “Trudy and Dave;” and a 20-minute short called By the Cover.
Look for the homegrown movie fun of The Fresh Air Will Do You Good at the upcoming Digiflick site and just maybe, down the road, bringing a breath of fresh air to a cable television channel.
First photo: Poster of the movie The Fresh Air Will Do You Good
2nd: Jim Dougherty