LOGLINE

An opportunistic asshole* joins the quest of a delusional man who thinks he lives in a fantasy world.

*censors, feel free to change "asshole" to "jerk"

 

SHORT SYNOPSIS

Opportunistic asshole Mark Sanders is forced to join Gleahan of Eastvale, a delusional man who thinks he lives in a fantasy world. Together, they go on a quest to defeat the "Dark Lord" who apparently rules Duluth. But as Mark delves deeper into Gleahan's fantasy, it becomes clear just how real -- and insane -- Gleahan's plight truly is.

Together, Mark and Gleahan dodge faceless goons and escape a mustache-twirling business executive. They ransack a "dragon's hoard" full of drugs and guns. They team up with a surprisingly knowledgeable bartender and face down a "dark princess" who wants to overthrow her father.

Completed in just one year, this off-the-rails low-budget adventure takes the premise of Don Quixote, shoves it into our modern world, and jam-packs it full of tropey goodness.

 

Kent Dean / Mark Sanders

Kent grew up bouncing between Los Angeles, Calif., Portland, Ore., and the Twin Ports. After landing a few roles in Portland in 2013, he was accepted to a 1-year program at the Baron/Brown Acting Studio in Santa Monica, Calif. and moved to LA to continue his craft. In 2015 he returned to the Northland to finish his degree at Lake Superior College.

He has made a name for himself in Duluth, acting in Nick Hansen's Solatium (DSFF Official Selection, 2017) as Father Luke, the Duluth Playhouse's 2018 production of Death of a Salesman as Happy, and now Gleahan and the Knaves of Industry as Mark.

Kent had an extremely busy schedule while shooting Gleahan as he juggled classes at LSC, jobs at the US Postal Service and Buffalo Wild Wings, as well as his other acting commitments.

Kent has the talent and the looks to be the leading man in a huge blockbuster. Please hire him. He deserves it.

He also does parkour. So much parkour.

Don Frederick Millikan III / Gleahan of Eastvale

Don is Gleahan of Eastvale. He and director Samuel T Weston had just become roommates when Sam came rushing home: "Don! I'm going to make a movie, and I want you to play the title character."

During the writing phase, Don would take occasional peeks at the work-in-progress script. The first time he read it, he exclaimed "This is me, distilled!" From there, the character was born.

By day, Don is a well-respected cook at Lyric Kitchen in downtown Duluth. By night, he spends time with his nerdy friends as they play Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering, shoot NERF guns at each other, and basically behave like unabashed adult-children.

Henriette Soderlind / Penelope Johnson

Henri was born in Norway, grew up in Duluth, and has acted in Duluth Playhouse productions such as Cabaret and Cats. One of her many jobs involves dressing up as a princess for events and birthday parties. It was there that local filmmaker Lance T Karasti found her and asked her to act in his second film, Artificial (DSFF Official Selection, 2016).

After seeing Artificial, director Samuel T Weston recognized that Henri had the exact range needed to play the scheming "Dark Princess" Penelope Johnson, who quickly became a fan favorite.

Once Henri was cast in the role, everything else fell into place and Gleahan could get underway.

David Aldridge / Nathaniel Johnson

Samuel T Weston wrote the Gleahan script while working night shift at the Androy Hotel in Superior, Wisc. Dave just so happened to be the front desk manager there at the time, where he and Sam had several conversations about the script's progress.

Dave has acted in numerous local-access TV and theater productions, and moonlights as a clown. Between that and his big, booming voice, he was a perfect fit for the menacing role of Nathaniel Johnson.

Dave is actually in his 30s, so he needed makeup applied for every scene to make him look like the 50-year-old Nathaniel Johnson.

Ramona Marozas / Madison

Mona is a Duluth journalist, so naturally she was the first to hear about Gleahan and the first to audition for the part. Mona's bubbly personality is in stark contrast to Madison's cold exterior, stating on set that "I get to be the bitchy person I sometimes want to be but never am."

She's acted in short films like Adrianna Bail's Perspective, Death Calm Studios' Before I Wake, and Chris Linder's Love, Language, & Transposition, and has modeled for several photoshoots and music videos around the Twin Ports.

Mona is multi-ethnic, and most proud of her Native American background.

Ian Vincent / Derek Olson

Ian is a business professional by day, and a major nerd all the time. It was that perfectly mismatched combination that led to his breakout performance as Derek Olson, the erratic but dressed-to-impress half-brother of Penelope Johnson.

Ian dove straight into the role, adding his own personal flair to the character and fleshing Derek out to become the fan-favorite he is now. His on-set interactions with Henriette Soderlind were so convincing, director Samuel T Weston sometimes forgot the two aren't really siblings.

This was Ian's first film role, and Battlemage Films is eager to work with him again.

 
 

Samuel T Weston / writer & director / sam@battlemagefilms.com

Sam is an autistic fantasy-writer-turned-filmmaker. Raised in the woods and prairies of rural Minnesota and weaned on stories like The Lord of the RingsAvatar: The Last AirbenderFullmetal Alchemist, and Eragon, Sam gained a unique perspective of what goes into making a fantasy story.

He got his start making self-published comic books until he realized he couldn't draw. He tried to write fantasy novels until he realized his writing style called for more than mere literature could do.

So he set off to make fantasy films. But making films is far more difficult than "these words shall be willed into existence!" -- No, he would have to work long and hard to achieve his vision.

In 2016 and 2017 Sam wrote and directed two short films, two sketch-comedy videos, and one piece of garbage which shall never escape the pits of hell.

Then, in mid-2017, he set to work on his first feature film. He couldn't craft a real fantasy world; no, that would require too much money and he didn't know the right people. So instead he took all the tropes you would find in a Heroic Fantasy novel and square-pegged them into the world around him: Duluth.

As an Autistic, Sam has had a lot of specific interests at different times in his life. These interests include choral music, photography, graphic design, acting, journalism, politics, linguistics, anthropology, and TVTropes.org. Each of these played a role in crafting Gleahan as quickly and as skillfully as it was.

DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT

People had been telling me for months that I had to do a feature, and I completely agreed with them, but all the features I wanted to do were too expensive to make. That's why Gleahan was such a huge stroke of luck: "Don Quixote for the modern age." It's a simple pitch, but it opened the flood-gates for a story that was easy to make and still fit the Epic Fantasy stories I want to be known for.

The script hits on all the standard Heroic Fantasy tropes, while its cinematic language blends the styles of Anime and the Indie Darling.

The whole production was insanely quick. I wrote the script between June and August of 2017, with a Seed&Spark crowdfunding campaign that ran for a month between September and October. We shot Gleahan on weekends in October, November, January, and February of 2017-18 with a production budget of $4,000 plus a ton of favors from the Duluth film community.

I wanted to just write and direct. I ended up also juggling the hats of producer, cinematographer, casting director, production designer, composer, 1st AD, 2nd AD, 3rd AD, Unit Production Manager, props master, actor, editor, assistant editor, VFX cleanup monkey, and pretty much every role you can think of (except maybe Behind-The-Scenes Photographer. We never did get one of those.) I didn't tackle all these out of some need for creative control -- we just needed someone to fill them, and I knew what I was looking for. Low budgets will do that.

We edited everything together as we filmed it, allowing us to get a picture-lock at the end of March. Sound design, color grading, and music were all done in step with the edit, allowing us to finish the entire movie exactly a year after it was first conceived.

People said I was crazy. And honestly, I probably am. But at this point I just hope that people come out of this movie thinking "Yeah, that was pretty okay."

 

MORE CREW

 
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Prince-Jamal Mack, sr. / Sound Designer

PJ is a sound designer born in Detroit and based in the Twin Cities. He first connected with Sam on the set of Matthew Dressel's short film, "Just Coffee" (2017), where they got to talking about the preparations for Gleahan and how it needed to sound just right. The rest is history.

When PJ isn't doing sound design or working at the Apple Store, he's teaching digital video and media production to middle school kids. He also makes podcasts part-time and often suffers from Shiny New Toy Syndrome.

Laura Cashin / Editor

Laura is professional editor at a TV news station in Duluth. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Superior, Sam first worked with Laura on the set of her student film, "Sweet Pea."

Editing Gleahan was a unique process, since Laura started editing some scenes before the movie was even wrapped. Her biggest contribution was incorporating all the wonderful reaction shots, which gave the film a quirky personality it otherwise wouldn't have.

 
 
 
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Jonathan Thunder / VFX Artist

Jonathan is a painter and professionally-trained visual effects artist based in Duluth. He's showcased his work in several galleries both locally and abroad, and his mind-bending animations have graced the Duluth-Superior Film Fest screens several years in a row.

His visual effects work appeared in the local film Solatium (2017), and after sharing several other samples of his work with Sam, he was brought on to tackle the VFX for Gleahan.

JON JULSRUD / VFX ARTIST

Jon is a visual effects artist who bounces between Los Angeles and Rochester, Minn. His enormous list of credits includes such titles as King Arthur: Legend of the SwordHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Avengers: Infinity War.

Jon has also gotten his toes wet as a producer, putting his weight behind the Minnesota-made feature Seed of Doubt (2019).

 
 
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Jocelyn Heid / Executive Producer

Jocelyn got involved with Gleahan during the crowdfunding phase. When the campaign was nearing its end far behind the funding threshold, Jocelyn swooped in to save the film, making this whole endeavor possible.

A longtime lover of all things film, Jocelyn and her husband Francis own several hundred DVDs and VHS tapes (not including duplicates!) and has made a name for herself as a strong supporter of filmmakers in Duluth.

Matthew Dressel / Executive Producer

Matt is an award-winning screenwriter and founder of the Duluth Film Collective, where Gleahan was nurtured into the final product you see now.

Matt has lived and worked in Los Angeles, getting a front-row view of the Hollywood machine. This combination of industry experience and local perspective was invaluable during the planning, production, and finalization of Gleahan.

 

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