“The Storyteller” It’s a Wrap!

Writer / Kara Kavensky
Photography provided by Nancy Crump & Alexandra Reibel

After college, Joe Crump worked in Los Angeles as a grip. “A grip works with everything that has to do with lighting that isn’t plugged in,” says Joe. He manipulated the lighting by hanging screens and rigging the lights in creative ways to achieve a desired effect. Grips also move the camera during the shot to maintain the lighting effect. While working in LA, Joe met Nancy. To provide a higher standard of living for his family, Joe got into real estate. The couple eventually moved to Indianapolis where Joe grew up.

With his sister, Kristina Wagner, playing Felicia on “General Hospital” for over two decades, he was never far removed from the industry he loved. But it was not until Kristina reached out a few years ago to share her thesis on German internment in the U.S. during WWII that he decided it was time to wade back into the waters of production. A few years ago, Joe and Kristina converted her thesis into the documentary, “Children of Internment,” which won several awards at film festivals both in the U.S. and Europe and was picked up by PBS.

With “The Storyteller,” Joe and Nancy have taken a deeper dive, and this time, it’s a narrative film.

“What if you had an immortal child who stays in the foster care system since she never ages?” asks Joe. “This is a story based on the premise, ‘We are what we believe.’”

To create the screenplay, Joe, who served as producer and director, collaborated with producer Rachel Noll of Los Angeles. The script, on its own merit, won the Silver Prize in the Family Film category of The 2015 PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. The number of scripts submitted: 8,800.

With the validation of a great script, Nancy, Joe and Rachel set out to cast their film. Kristina signed on, as did two of her fellow “General Hospital” actors, Brooklyn Rae Silzer and Constance Towers, and additional talent including Samantha Colburn and Broadway stars Eden Espinosa and James Snyder. The crew has many notables, several of whom are Emmy Award winners, such as “General Hospital” makeup artist Linda Rondinella.

“Having watched ‘General Hospital’ for so long, I knew Brooklyn would be ideal for the film and was so thrilled when she accepted the part,” shares Nancy.

Nancy’s combined experiences in management, as a script reader, as an industry make-up artist and at an independent film company were very helpful in her role co-producing this film. She wrote the lyrics to their original songs, and composers put them to music. Composers Michael Reola of TLA 18 Music and his team have collectively won five Emmys. Nancy and Joe’s daughter, Katie, is studying film at IU and worked hard on the film. She had three jobs: 2nd Assistant Camera, DIT (Digital Imaging Tech in charge of all the video files) and Joe’s Co-Editor.

Once all of the players were set, the schedule was finalized, and the production was underway.

“We had three days of pre-production scouting and then 18 days of actual production. The planning that went into the logistics of the project was like a military campaign,” shares Sound Mixer Bud Osborne. “We had long days, several nighttime segments, artificial rain and shooting in the woods with no power. We became a family for those 18 days and had a great time.”

With a tight three-week filming schedule, the scenes were meticulously planned with regard to progression of the film. The costumer designer kept track of the costumes for each scene, thoroughly understanding the progression of characters and where the scene fell sequentially within the film. Due to efficiency, oftentimes opening and closing scenes were filmed in the same day with significant adjustments needed accordingly.

“Joe really wanted the wardrobe to be a part of the story and show the transitions and growth each character made, which was a really unique and rewarding experience for me,” shares Costume Designer Cara Indiano. “It was a bit of a tight rope walk, and I really had to think about each individual piece. I can’t thank Joe, Nancy and Rachel enough for giving me the opportunity to be a part of it and for trusting me with such an important part of their really incredible film.” 

“Everyone who worked on this film stepped up and did a great job with every single one of them doing their part, which is critical for it all to come together,” adds Nancy.

“The actors gave us unbelievable performances,” says Joe. He is wrapping up postproduction on the film which utilized locations around Fishers and Noblesville and featured a cast rich in talent and experience.

“One of our stars, the incredible Constance Towers starred with John Wayne and William Holden in ‘The Horse Soldiers’ back in the golden era of Hollywood. She is truly Hollywood royalty and as nice a person as you’ll ever meet. I had the honor of spending some time with her between takes, talking about that movie and what it was like to work with Wayne and Holden,” says Bud. “We talked at length about some of the other amazing films she and her husband John Gavin, another Hollywood great, had been a part of. For a movie buff like myself, it was heaven, and I won’t soon forget it. I think everyone has mileposts in their life, events that stay with you that you can look back on with pride. The production of ‘The Storyteller’ will be one of mine.”

The movie covers many different themes, including foster care, complex interpersonal relationships and beliefs.

One of the teenage actors in the film is Cassidy Mack. She was involved in one of the first readings for the movie in LA and was the first one cast. It was later discovered that she was a former foster kid and adopted. She has started a nonprofit called Love Gives Chances to help foster kids who have outgrown the system but who could still benefit from a loving family.

“In a world of negativity and violence, we’ve created a film depicting a compassionate connection for others,” shares Joe. “We do address foster care and mortality. There are moral issues as well, but in a sense, we are the rebels in the film industry. It’s funny to think a movie about healing, love, compassion and helping one another is rebellious, but it is.”

They accomplished this with a great script, which attracted an incredible cast and crew. They may call themselves rebels, but they are artists, and their medium is love.

Follow “The Storyteller” on Facebook for updates when they will premiere their film!

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