Rock and ‘roll’
Actress Randi Hutchison (left) and Detroit rock musician Mitch Ryder chat during a photo shoot for Wyandotte director Scott Galeski’s first feature film, “Pookerland,” at Barry and Company Designs, 724 Oak in Wyandotte Wednesday. The movie began filming in Wyandotte this month.
By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – Many who’ve seen local director Scott Galeski’s short films recognize familiar landmarks and Downriver actors.
But for his first feature-length film, he wanted a face – and a name – everyone would notice.
Detroit rock legend Mitch Ryder is set to appear as himself in Galeski’s film “Pookerland,” which began filming in Wyandotte three weeks ago. The film follows ex-con Robert “Montie” Montgomery (played by Detroit resident Timothy A. King), who is released after 25 years in prison to find his only living relative is a 15-year-old granddaughter he has never met.
Galeski, a Wyandotte police detective who has written and directed a handful of award-winning short films, said he reached out to Ryder because he was looking for a Detroit icon. Ryder, who has appeared as himself in several films and documentaries, donated his time for the project.
“I’ve learned more in 15 minutes talking to him than I have in four years doing this,” Galeski said.
Ryder, best known for hits like “Devil With a Blue Dress On,” with rock band Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, said he signed on to the project to help support local film ventures in Michigan after Gov. Rick Snyder slashed generous film incentives in February.
“I think it’s important,” Ryder said. “At one time we had something really interesting and it got taken away. It makes it more important and more valuable and gives people hope.”
Galeski has written and directed short films “The Tank,” and its sequel “The Tank II,” with his brother, Daniel, who provided the soundtracks. His short “Protangeline” debuted last fall at Trenton Village Theatre.
After wetting his feet with short films, he said a feature film was the next logical step, though dealing with the logistics of a longer film has been a challenge.
“We took a big bite, and we’re chewing it,” he said.
Shooting began in the Wyandotte jail three weeks ago and is to continue at locations throughout Downriver, Detroit and Pennsylvania for a tentative November 2012 release. He said he prides himself on casting “real people,” many of them Downriver and Detroit natives who have appeared in most of Galeski’s films.
“We pride ourselves on using real people,” Galeski said. “It’s raw, to the point, in your face, and it’s done us justice.”
One of those real people, Galeski’s niece, 19-year-old Randi Hutchison is taking on her first major role as “Patricia,” the main character’s granddaughter.
The 2010 graduate of Roosevelt High School said she is excited to take on her first big role. She never planned on acting, but developed a love for it after appearing as an elf in another of her uncle’s short films.
“They asked me to come back, and here I am now,” she said. “It’s a big leap from the last project, but I’m excited.”
It’s a big leap for Galeski too, who has sacrificed most of his free time to the film, the idea for which he’s had “on the back burner,” for years.
“I just want to make something unique and send a message,” he said. “We’re all about showcasing Detroit and Downriver.”