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Risking it all for film

KIMBERLY NICOLETTI
summit daily news
Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk
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BRECKENRIDGE ” Steve Mudd’s film portrays a marriage full of deception, but his own romantic relationship is anything but.

Mudd’s wife, Andrea, agreed to risk the couple’s life savings to produce Mudd’s screenplay, “Seclusion,” in Breckenridge. He is shooting the film on a $100,000 budget and plans to complete the film by October and enter major film festivals, such as Sundance. His worst-case scenario: distribute the DVD version through Amazon.com to help recoup the money.

“The goal is for someone to write a check,” he said. “The chances are slim, but it happens every year.”

Meanwhile, the Mudds are housing, feeding and financing a crew of more than 20 professionals hailing from Los Angeles, Chicago, Florida and the Front Range. They began shooting the feature-length mystery June 5 and will be in Breckenridge through Sunday.

So far, it’s had its challenges. Andrea Mudd totaled their car near the Eisenhower Tunnel on her way to meet Brooks Furniture, which is loaning the furniture for the shoot. She closed her piano studio for the month to cook for the crew.

“I’m sort of a late supporter of the whole thing; it was his deal. Last December, when he told me he was taking the month off, there was hesitation,” she said. “But it’s amazing to see the footage ” it’s incredible. From the very first time we dated 13 years, ago, he’s wanted to make a movie. It’s a lot of work, but it’s so worth it because he’s so happy.”

Armed with a bachelor’s degree in English, a two-day film class and bragging rights of finishing in the top 250 of more than 7,000 entries in Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Project Greenlight contest, Steve Mudd committed to his dream of making movies on his 29th birthday.

Though it may sound like a pipe dream, Mudd is ensuring the quality of his film. He has surrounded himself with people smarter than himself, he says. Plus, he has experience writing other screenplays for companies.

So far, shooting “Seclusion” ” which tells the story of a congressman’s adulterous trip to a secluded mountain cabin in which his mistress suspiciously disappears and his wife unexpectedly arrives ” has met only a few other challenges: a neighbor playing piano during an outdoor shoot and a couple-hour power outage. Ironically, Steve Mudd is a manager for Xcel Energy.

So far, the crew is on schedule ” no small feat when 12 hours of daily work produces about six minutes of film.

Scenes begin with block rehearsals. Once they set up the camera and Steve Mudd says “Action,” half a dozen people cram around the camera monitor watching the actors. In between shoots, the crew attends to makeup and other details. The atmosphere is laid-back but professional. Crumpled yellow sheets of paper, empty water bottles and Diet Coke cans crowd tables and countertops outside of the scenes.

While actors Chris Gann (“XXX” and “The Pacifier”); Christopher Stapleton (lead role in three independent films and appeared on such television shows as “The X-Files”); Missy Crider (“Lonesome Dove”); and Front Range local actors, Jefferson Arca and Catherine Sheehan shoot scenes upstairs, editors work with footage in the “green room” below.

Summit County businesses have supported the project by providing food, housing and furnishings for the crew.

And as far as the script, the crew agrees it’s intriguing.

“All of the characters have a secret, have a past,” he said. “We’ve tried to add the layers so it’s more than a B movie up in a cabin.”

But perhaps the most intriguing story is the Mudds’ commitment to a dream.

“You know where it says, ‘Thank you for paying your bill on time’ on your Xcel bill? I wrote that. I just didn’t want that to be my greatest accomplishment,” he said. “I told myself I’d do a movie by the time I was 30.”

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.


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