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This summer, Evanston will play host to the filming of “The Pages,” an independent film starring Tika Sumpter and Jamie Lee Curtis.
The film is a female-driven political thriller about two women who have a complicated past together as former colleagues. Ms. Sumpter, who plays former top U.S. security adviser Elizabeth Lamm, is haunted by their past actions and Ms. Curtis, who plays high-ranking politician Rachel Burke, is not affected by their past.
“I like that this film is about two women that are very powerful and have very strong views about the importance of their work in the world, but have an opposite view of their past actions,” said Colleen Griffen, producer of the film and co-founder of Corrado Mooncoin, the independent film company producing the film. “It has nothing to do with their hair, or who they are dating or their clothes.”
The movie will be shot throughout Evanston and in downtown Chicago. Some of the filming has already been completed at Northwestern University, and there will be some filming in different Evanston houses and businesses. “The Pages” production team is partnering with the City of Evanston and other local businesses this month while filming. Curts Café, is catering for the cast and crew.
Evanston residents Ms. Griffen and her husband Joe Chappelle, who is also the writer and director of the movie, met as students at Northwestern. Going to school and then living here allowed Mr. Chappelle to “write what he knew in Evanston,”
“We have a unique situation, because we like working with each other, we have a shared aesthetic and we have a lot of trust in each other’s skills,” said Ms. Griffen. “I’m one for thinking big picture and problem solving. Joe has an incredible eye, a fast understanding of cinema language, and knows how to tell a story. I always joke that I am the president of the Joe Chappelle fan club.”
The script is written by Mr. Chappelle, but Ms. Griffen describes their creative partnership as “fluid,” since they continually bounce ideas off one another and trust each other.
This film will have a much larger budget than the movies that Ms. Griffen typically works on. She says she feels a greater sense of responsibility to raise more money and sell the film but looks forward to more artistic autonomy. “We’re in a space that’s very exciting for film right now,” she says. “Tech costs have come down enough that you can compete with a big Hollywood film in terms of the look and the scope of the film. We can do it in a way where Joe can be creative, which is not typical of a film or TV show.”
“The Pages” was inspired by two documentaries by filmmaker Errol Morris: “Unknown Known” and “The Fog of War.” Mr. Chappelle liked the idea of two people looking at the same event in different ways. He took that concept and added two very powerful women going head-to-head, which made it a movie rather than an idea, said Ms. Griffen.
A hot-button issue in film is the lack of representation of people of color in leading roles. For “The Pages” to cast a black female lead shows a step forward. “Joe and I have always had a sense of color- and gender-blind casting,” said Ms. Griffen. “We always knew we wanted two women for this movie, but what we wanted more than anything was a blend. If we had cast a white Elizabeth we would’ve wanted to cast a nonwhite Rachel.”
There is no release date yet, but filming will continue in Evanston through the end of July. “The Pages” is looking for extras of all ages. Anyone interested in being an extra should email@example.com; an auto-reply will include a form to complete. “The Pages” is also looking for a wide variety of vehicles for the film. Anyone with a vehicle to show should email firstname.lastname@example.org with a photo of the vehicle and contact information.
While filming a movie in Evanston can be fun for the community, Ms. Griffen recognizes that challenges can accompany the excitement. She says that if anyone is inconvenienced by the film trucks to reach out to email@example.com.