There was a very excited audience at Frank Theatres Rivertowne Stadium 12 in Conway, SC December 9, 2017. This wasn’t a typical day for moviegoers in the area. This was opening day for the anticipated short film, Among the Stars. Writer and Director, Jack VanderToll, stood in appreciation as he watched his vision unfold on the big screen with a very receptive and proud crowd.
The film surrounds Robert (played by Ethan Williams), an innocent young man who barely evades a figure who is ruthlessly hunting him. His plight hasn’t gone unnoticed by supernatural beings Michael and Magnus, who are both fighting to either save or doom Robert’s soul. Robert seeks help from his friend Felicia as they are caught in the cross hairs of a timeless battle between good and evil.
The film begins beautifully as Robert and Felicia enjoy a quiet night together but then are abruptly interrupted by a figure who is called upon by Magnus to deliver them to his master. Robert and Felicia aren’t the only ones in danger. Michael has been lured into Magnus’s trap in his effort to save them. The fates of both mortal and supernatural hang in the balance on Earth and among the stars.
Jack VanderToll spoke on what inspired the film, “One of my favorite film themes is the theological struggle between good and evil. I had the idea to anthropomorphize these themes into characters. Good and evil are forever at war… one ultimately tries to save, the other seeks to destroy. Once that structure was found, the story and the conflict quickly materialized.”
Equipped with a Sony NXCAM NEX-FS700 and a Panasonic AG-AF105A, Michelle Elise Harding did a wonderful job as the Director of Photography and Editor of this film. When asked about how long it took to film, Michelle said, “We spent eight days filming over the course of five months due to weather delays and script revisions.” As it is with many films, there can be many setbacks as well as cool accidental visuals that can really add to the film. “The cricket that is seen in the trailer and opening scene of the film was not scripted. It landed on Director Jack VanderToll’s head and wouldn’t fly away, so it was incorporated into the final film.” (Michelle) The actors even did their own stunts choreographed by Christian Brunetti, who also played Magnus.
The goal for the film is to continue having as many new eyes on it as possible riding the festival circuit and hope for positive reception. After having a successful premiere on the coast, the film traveled to the first meeting of the year for Carolina Film Network in January. It was also a great representation of the Myrtle Beach Film Community at this event highlighting collaboration over competition. This was a great start for the film as the reception for the film was more than welcomed with warm eyes, but it also was praised for its attention to biblical reference and originality.
When asked what he wants people to take away from seeing the film, Jack stated, “I am very pleased with the story we were able to tell, and I feel the themes to my film is universal… our search for purpose, friends and heroes. These are journeys everyone in life takes in some form. After someone sees it, if they are able to consider they are never alone as they may think, especially when they look up at a starry, night sky, I’ll mark that as a success.”
Among the Stars is more than just another great South Carolina originated film. It serves as an opportunity for growth in the industry, a production of quality and perseverance, and a dream-come- true for its creators. We at Carolina Film Network recommend following this film on Facebook and Instagram @amongthestarsmovie for more screening information as well as watching its flourishment. Congratulations on a job well done!
By Andrew Gajadhar