Local film takes fans through Legendary musician’s work

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Summer of Skeeter Bite Shorts

Summer. It’s almost here.

So, what the heck, let’s make some shorts.

While Never Been to Graceland is wrapping up post-production before the big premiere in August, there’s really not much left to do on that end, so I’ve spent the last month and a half wringing my hands out of sheer boredom.

Finally, I couldn’t take any more (and neither could Deana, who has to put up with my fidgeting on a nightly basis) so I have decided that Summer 2017 will be a summer of Skeeter Bite Shorts.

Each month for the next five months (May, June, July, August and September) I want to produce AT LEAST one short film in a different genre or style with a variety of self-imposed restrictions to push my creative boundaries where they have yet to go. I’m going to tackle these with the same level of brashness with which I tackled a short film we did back in high school called “Pocket Lint.” The raw footage to this is still on my hard drive, and was labeled “outofourasses.wmv” because that’s exactly what it was.

We’ll try to do better than that, though. No promises!

-SHORT SHOOTS: Each short is only going to be shot in one day or one night, with the allowance of one possible pick-up day per film if something goes wrong or something gets missed. Scheduling is hell. Actors are often restricted by day jobs or distance, so we’re going to mitigate excuses not to jump in the fray.

-NO STAKES: We might end up filming and completing every single one. We might film half of each of them, all of half of them, or none of any of them. Doesn’t matter. We’re not submitting these to festivals. We’re not looking for reviews. We’re not looking to compete with anyone else or show off some amazing bold new idea that we are deluded in thinking will change the world of cinema. This is pure passion.

-DON’T TRY TOO HARD: I’m gonna do these the way I shot stuff in high school; that is, very quick, very loose. Short turnarounds. Imperfections. These may not be well produced on a technical level when they come out. What we film may not even represent the scripts I write. Doesn’t matter because we’re going to…

-TRY NEW THINGS EVERY TIME (AND PROBABLY FAIL BUT MAYBE SUCCEED): Some of the shorts may not be in the same vein as things I’ve done before. They may not be comedies. They may not be adventures. They may not even be family friendly. Maybe they will. I don’t know yet. I’ll let you know. Look up a couple on the list again. “NO STAKES.” I’m not counting on everyone to see these, or even like them. The only things that will matter is if me and my collaborators…

-HAVE FUN AND LEARN THINGS: We have to. It’s the only way we grow as people and as filmmakers. I’m hoping I make shorts with people I’ve wanted to work with for a while but have never had the right project for. I’m hoping I make new projects with people I’ve become great friends and collaborators with.

I’m excited to try this. Let’s make some stuff.

Fourth Rough Cut of Never Been to Graceland is Complete!

After a late-night editing session, we are one step closer to being finished with the film! We are about one last edit away from a picture lock and we are sitting down this weekend to begin work on the sound mix and music! We cannot wait to share this film with you and August cannot come soon enough! Until then, please enjoy another preview clip, this time featuring David Scott and Harland Allen as Bryan and Larry!

Details for “I Sent My Grandma Into the Past!”

main-logo-draft-2Zoey’s Grandma Margaret is having a hard time figuring out the secret ingredient for her mother’s old cookie recipe. But when she accidentally confuses a magic time machine for a kitchen timer, Grandma finds herself 60 years in the past and has to disguise herself as her own Great Aunt Ima! Now, Zoey and her best friend Spencer have to find a way to get bring Grandma home from the past before her actions start changing the futures of her teenage self, Mags, her friends, and own family – including Zoey!

I Sent My Grandma Into the Past! (and other Chronological Conundrums) is the second fully original play by writer Justin Gausman and like “The Christmas Heist” before it, offers an exciting blend of hilarious hijinks, dramatic moments, fun action and unexpected twists.

Auditions will be held at 7:00pm on Monday, February 13, 2017 at the Mueller Civic Center in Hot Springs, SD. Performances will be March 30, March 31 and April 1, 2017.

CHARACTER/CAST DETAILS

PRESENT

Zoey – our heroine, a bit of a troublemaker – age 15-25, female
Grandma Margaret – Zoey’s Grandma – age 60-80, female
Betsy (Elder) – Margaret’s friend – age 60-80, female
Spencer – Zoey’s Friend – age 15-25, male
Timothy E. Traveller – Kitchen Timer Salesman – male, age flex

PAST

Mags – the younger Margaret, also a bit of a troublemaker – age 15-25, female
Betsy (Younger) – Mags’ best friend – age 15-25, female
Raymond – Mags’ father – age 40-60, male
Delilah – Mags’ mother – age 40-60, female
Billy – Mags’ little brother – age 7-12, male

Local playwright bringing ‘The Christmas Heist’ to Mueller Center

Note: Originally Appeared in the Hot Springs Star,  December 8, 2015

By John Taylor

HOT SPRINGS – “The Christmas Heist,” an original play written by Hot Spring native Justin Gausman, and produced by the Southern Hills Community Theatre, will be performed at Hot Springs Mueller Center, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 10 to 12.

The play, Gausman says, takes place in a fictional Rocky Mountains community called Pine Springs, just a few days before Christmas in 1987.

That’s when a group of nerdy and outcast teens (Alex, Kenzie, Shawna and Robin) discover that the mayor of Pine Springs is plotting with a shady businessman to close their favorite hangout – a motel called Gus’s – to make way for a new shopping plaza, to be built along a new stretch of highway being constructed through town, they plan a protest.

Meanwhile, a bank robbery in the adjacent county has everyone on edge, looking for suspicious strangers.

Just such a stranger, Ben, strolls into Pine Springs – and Gus’s – when his car breaks down.

The kids protest plans go awry. However, suspecting Ben to be the bank robber, they decide to kidnap him and force him to help them break into city hall and steal back proof of the mayor’s plans.

Things get even more complicated when cheerleader Kelly (Alex has a crush on her) decides she wants to help them. She happens to be the mayor’s step-daughter.

“The Christmas Heist is a play filled to the brim with 1980s throwbacks, holiday spirit, a ton of humor, a little drama and a big heart,” Gausman says. “But it’s not at all autobiographical. It’s completely fiction.”

A couple of years ago, Gausman says, he was inspired by the video game, Grand Theft Auto 5, which had a bank robber character in it. He wondered what would happen if this bank robber got caught in a small town, what sort of trouble there would be. The result of his imaginary exploration is “The Christmas Heist.”

The 1980s throwbacks come from Gausman’s fascination with the 1980s.

“I just have an affinity for 80s culture.” He particularly likes the work of screenwriter, producer and filmmaker John Hughes (Sixteen Candles, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty in Pink) and Chris Columbus (Gremlins, The Goonies) he said.

“I was born the year after the play is set,” he said, noting that his parents were teenagers in the 1980s. His mother is a Hot Springs native, and she met his father at Chadron State College. From these roots, sprang Gausman’s enjoyment of the music and movies of 1980s.

“The Christmas Heist,” Gausman said, is the first full script he has written, and his first fully original script for Southern Hills Community Theatre.

He also wrote a play called “The Christmas Radio,” where the beginning and end of the play were of his creation, but the middle was Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

Gausman has produced two feature-length films in the “Jamie Klotz’s Diary” series and is in pre-production— he’s looking for a location, financial resources, and a crew; but no cast yet – for a film entitled “Never Been to Graceland.”

Schooled in Hot Springs, and active in drama and theatre as a Bison, Gausman didn’t go to college, despite an offer to attend a private film school, due to extenuating circumstances in his private life. After living in Rapid City for a few years, he decided to come back to Hot Springs in 2012 and has been heavily involved in the community ever since with organizations, like Save the VA, the Cultural Development Organization, and others.

He credits Betsy Savage for getting him into community theatre. He recalled community plays when he was a child – Jack in the Beanstalk in particular.

Gausman says that he likes to write movie or play-length scripts as opposed to books or short stories because he enjoys the format, and readership of books and novels is way down.

“I’ve written some novellas in the past, but people don’t read these,” he says. “I don’t have the patience to go all the way with a book or do short stories. I found my niche in screenplays and scripts. A movie or a play takes about a hour and a half to two hours to enjoy.”

“I like the visual medium, and the reaction, the immediacy of it,” he said. “When a crowd laughs at your joke, or is silent during a dramatic moment… you can’t get that in a book or a movie.”

The Mueller Center doors and box office, to purchase tickets at the door, will open at 6:30 p.m., and “The Christmas Heist” begins at 7 p.m. each night. Tickets are $8 for adults; $6 for seniors (age 60-plus) and children under 12; and children under 6 get in free.

Southern Hills Community Theatre, a 501c3, is a fully-volunteer non-profit community theatre dedicated to presenting quality, live,family-friendly performances. For more information about the play and the group visit the website, http://www.shct.org.

Jamie Klotz’s Diary 2 Locally produced sequel film set for May premiere

Sisters Aryona (left) and Aspen Watts (right) potray Jamie Klotz at different points in her life in the sequel to the 2013 adventure comedy.
Sisters Aryona (left) and Aspen Watts (right) potray Jamie Klotz at different points in her life in the sequel to the 2013 adventure comedy.

HOT SPRINGS, SD – The public is invited to attend the premiere of the independent, locally-produced feature film “The Extraordinary Secret of Jamie Klotz’s Diary” also known simply as Jamie Klotz’s Diary 2, on May 29, 2015 at 7:00 pm at the Mueller Civic Center at 801 S 6th St. in Hot Springs.

Jamie Klotz’s Diary 2 is a sequel to the original Jamie Klotz’s Diary movie that premiered in 2013, was written and directed by Hot Springs filmmaker Justin Gausman, and was filmed in and around the Hot Springs area with a cast of Black Hills-area actors, including leads Aspen Watts, Daniel Crossman, both of Rapid City, and Sam Martin, of Chadron, Ne.

In the film, the titular character returns home from her first year at college to discover that someone has not only stolen her diary (again) but also gone back in time and changed her life – meaning her lifelong friends are now strangers… and vice-versa. Jamie goes on an adventure through her own life, past, present and future, to save the friendships she holds dear.

“Thematically,” Gausman says, “if the first Jamie Klotz’s Diary could

"PJ" gives one of Jamie Klotz's famous monologues while the elder Jamie looks on, puzzled.
“PJ” gives one of Jamie Klotz’s famous monologues while the elder Jamie looks on, puzzled.

be summed up in one word as ‘fun,’ then the second film is definitely about ‘friendship.’ This one is just as much fun as the first one but there’s a slightly darker tone underneath about growing up and going away from your hometown and your childhood friends, coming back and seeing how things change. That’s something I think a lot of people can relate to, but of course it’s sort of taken to the extreme in this with the time travel adventure element.”

For anyone who may have missed the first movie, don’t worry. The first film, The Incredible Search for Jamie Klotz’s Diary, will be screening Saturday, May 16, 2015 at the Chop House Cinema in Lead, SD, as part of a “Local Filmmakers Night” event there and a matinee presentation of the first film will also be held at 4:30pm on May 29 at the Mueller Center in Hot Springs, prior to the premiere.

Admission to both the matinee and premiere is free, but donations will be accepted to help “kick start” the next film project by Gausman, Never Been to Graceland, a dramatic short film about fans of Elvis Presley traveling through South Dakota & Nebraska to find a mythical long-lost Presley film. The evening program will include a Q&A with the cast and crew and a brief presentation on Gausman’s future projects and recent collaborations.

Support is provided in part by the Hot Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Hot Springs.

The cast also includes Okoye Zimiga, Isaiah Crossman, Garett Jack, Jassmine Epps, Dustin Aaberg and Aryona Watts. The film is appropriate for ages 10+.