Filmmaker and native son Brian Jun confirmed the reason for major celebrity sightings around town occurred because he just wrapped his second locally shot film at Lockhaven Country Club and fourth feature-length film, with the first being “Steel City,” shot in Alton.
Eight years since shooting the gritty “Steel City,” Jun, 32, of Los Angeles, brought heavy hitters to town with the cast in his latest film, “She Loves Me Not,” a trilogy shot primarily in only two River Bend locations. In between shoots from Aug. 13 through 29, first at the Olin Mansion and then at Lockhaven Country Club, some of movies’ and television’s heavy hitters took to exploring Alton.
Jun’s star cast who came to work in Alton-Godfrey included iconic actress Karen Black, who has built an enormous cult following over the course of her career; indie darling Joey Lauren Adams, who starred in the 1990s’ “Mallrats” and “Chasing Amy,” but also in mainstream films such as 1999’s “Big Daddy,” opposite Adam Sandler; leading man Cary Elwes, who starred in 1987’s “The Princess Bride” and 1989’s “Glory”; and mega-hit and multiple award-winning television series “House” actress Lisa Edelstein.
Black, of “Easy Rider” and “Trilogy of Terror” movie fame, popped into the Second Reading Book Shop, 16 E. Broadway in Alton, and discussed film and literature with store owner John Dunphy.
“I congratulated her for being in (legendary director Alfred) Hitchcock’s last film, ‘Family Plot,’ from 1976,” Dunphy recalled Friday about his experience meeting one of the actresses he most admires. “She was quite impressed I had such knowledge of her films.”
“Easy Rider” became Black’s breakout role with Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson in 1969.
“She told me the cast was really apprehensive about it; they didn’t know if it would be a success or failure, because it was so avant-garde,” Dunphy, 58, said. “Her background was in theater.”
Black, who was born in a Chicago suburb, also co-starred opposite Nicholson in 1970’s “Five Easy Pieces.”
But she thrilled audiences and fans later in her horror movies, “Trilogy of Terror,” which first aired as an ABC Movie of the Week in 1974, and then in 1976’s feature film, “Burnt Offerings,” when she really began to build her cult fan base. Dan Curtis of “Dark Shadows” fame directed both of these films.
Black purchased books from Dunphy at two different times while she remained in his shop for at least an hour. After talking about the late actor Raymond Burr, who played Perry Mason on television, Dunphy found Perry Mason books by Erle Stanley Gardner for Black, which she bought. She also took home mystery and children’s books.
“Her literary tastes are as diverse and unique as the films of this wonderful actress,” Dunphy noted. “She is a very gracious and intelligent person; it’s genuinely a joy to be around her.”
Adams and Edelstein also wandered into Spirits Lounge in Downtown Alton over the weekend, where they spent money on drinks, patrons said.
“I’ve been fortunate to work with great actors in my relatively young career,” Jun said to The Telegraph last Thursday, a day after shooting wrapped.
“She Loves Me Not” is a trilogy that features the same character, played by Elwes, pursuing a woman in each vignette, which are all different film genres - drama, thriller and romantic comedy.
“The point of the story is there’s not really a leading lady; in each vignette he’s chasing a woman he can’t actually get,” explained Jun, who grew up in Godfrey, where his family lives and owns Jun Construction. “Each one gets the better of him.”
Jun graduated from Metro East Lutheran High School in Edwardsville in 1997 and from Webster University in 2001. He shot “Steel City” in 2004, and it became a critical success. Since then, he also made “The Cover-up” for television and “Joint Body.”
But with “She Loves Me Not,” Jun veered from his usual style of filmmaking.
“It’s a little bit different, as in I approached it with multiple directors, multiple stories, but it’s an anthology,” he explained.
He feels optimistic for the success of “She Loves Me Not,” but he’s gone an unpredictable path since “Steel City,” he said.
“The life of an indie filmmaker is bittersweet,” he noted. “After ‘Steel City,’ with the success and critical acclaim it had, I think things got more difficult. I was very young when that happened, and I guess I had beginner’s luck. It has the highest visibility of my films.”
Jun produced “She Loves Me Not” and hired the cast, as well as co-wrote the script with Jack Sanderson, who has lived in L.A. for the past 20 years but also shot on location for the film. Jun chose Alton-Godfrey to shoot because he wants to support and promote Midwest filmmaking, but also because he has a group of people here who are loyal to him and vice versa. He also appreciates the historic nature of Alton, he said.
“I think this is the last Alton film for awhile, because I need to explore, but this community has been very, very good to me,” he said. “But someday, I’ll make a big movie here, and it’ll be good for the people of Alton. Everyone who comes here and has never been here loves it and is sad to leave.”
Since Jun’s career started, he has grown to strive for more universal themes and ideas in his filmmaking. “Steel City” dealt with incarceration and redemption.
“I’ve always been fascinated with incarceration and recidivism; even ‘Joint Body’ deals with these issues,” he said. “I want to challenge myself and grow as a filmmaker. If you can’t continue to learn and grow and challenge yourself, why do something?”
Posted on Sunday, 2 September
Tagged as: Brian Jun Jack Sanderson She Loves Me Not cary elwes lisa edelstein movie Joey Lauren Adams Karen Black