Dirty Laundry movie poster
Dirty Laundry movie poster

Local Filmmakers Use Indy-Based Laundromat for New Project

When you think filmmaking, you might not think Indy, but writer and director Rocky Walls is one of many local filmmakers working in our area. Walls and his cofounder, Zach Downs, have been leading their team at 12 Stars Media, creating documentary films for years, but now they have taken on the creative ambition of producing a fictional, narrative film.

The journey began with a spark of inspiration, born from a stressful circumstance of having $20,000 in gear stolen while on a client project in San Francisco. On the journey home, Walls began writing as a means of distracting himself from the unfortunate cards they had been dealt. What began as a single blank page quickly became the structure of what would become his first narrative film.

After about a week of writing, drawing on personal experiences from his own life, Walls had the first draft of his independent feature film, titled “Dirty Laundry.”

“I’ve always wanted to film something inside a laundromat, and there was an image that I started to build everything around,” says Walls, writer and director of the film.

With a story in place, it was time to find the perfect location that had the right blend of aesthetics and practicality. What ended up emerging at the top of the list was Tony Ray Laundromat, a humble yet character-filled local laundromat located at 56th and Keystone.

Tony Ray's Laundromat
Laundromat to film set (photo by Michael Durr)

After a subtle mission of snagging iPhone photos and discussing the location with his team, it was time to approach the owner and pitch their idea.

“The film is a coming-of-age story about truth and friendship, set in the ‘90s with a little magic and shenanigans mixed in,” Walls says. “Visually it’s an extremely tight and intimate story that is almost exclusively captured within the walls of the laundromat.”

The initial meeting with the owner of laundromat went well, but it wasn’t until Walls came back with a production schedule when the owner saw that this guy was serious.

Interior of laundromat

The owner was incredibly accommodating; his only request was that the building be used when not in operation, which meant call times started at 9 p.m. and production through the night. In the film, the laundromat, with its vintage coin machines, becomes a character in its own right, as a mysterious stranger leaves magic coins that put the main characters under a truth-telling spell. Over the course of 10 production days throughout the month of December, the team, comprised of primarily local crew and cast, started bringing the vision into reality.

“It was awesome,” Walls says. “I could not have asked for a better location, cast and crew. Maybe we just had an incredible stroke of beginner’s luck, or maybe we just have a lot more movie magic in Indiana than so many people realize.”

The cast, including lead actors Mitchell Wray (as Kyle Mitchell) and Charlie Schultz (as Eric Hernandez), was assembled from another series of circumstances that seemed to fall in place as things progressed. Friend-of-a-friend scenarios and a random walk-in to the Talent Fusion offices in Indy led to one fortunate encounter after another. Miraculously, within a couple of months a full cast and crew had assembled.

Behind the scenes on set, the relatively small crew worked tirelessly, juggling multiple roles and responsibilities to ensure that every frame was perfect. From lighting a scene to the on-screen talent delivery and all the pieces in between, Walls and his crew ended with a final film coming in at just over 70 minutes.

Walls believes that here in Indiana, we are rarely more than a phone call or an email away from talking to anyone, and this is a unique opportunity for filmmakers to connect and network with individuals in a number of different ways when working on films here in Indianapolis.

“Dirty Laundry” is sure to be a shining example of creative collaboration, born right here in our great city. We also have a physical location, the laundromat, that now stands as a symbol of our community’s artistic spirit – a reminder that magic can be found in the most unexpected places.

The plan right now is for “Dirty Laundry” to have its world premiere this fall here in Indy.  The filmmakers also have an Instagram account @dirtylaundry.2024.

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