The Singles Ward, a Mormon comedy and full-length motion picture, will be released this winter.
The movie was "wrapping up" at the end of September in Wallsburg, Utah, just outside of Provo.
The film was written and directed by Kurt Hale and has the ability to become a comedy blockbuster, according to movie critic Matthew Kennedy.
Lending their time and talent as the cast are LaVell Edwards, Steve Young, Gordon Jump, Danny Ainge, Julie Stoffer, Richard Dutcher, Shawn Bradley, Wally Joyner, Thurl Bailey, Marie Osmond and Jason Buck, along with other local members.
"The Singles Ward is a production which focuses on Mormon single life. Its originality and humor is exclusive to the Mormon single experience," Kennedy said. "There is no experience quite like the life of a Mormon single person."
While productions such as God's Army attract a national crowd, The Singles Ward is more directed toward Latter-day Saints who understand the humor of being a single Mormon.
"One problem we have on the set is that we often are forced to call cut just to stop the film crew from laughing," Dave Hunter, executive co-producer, said.
"Movie making is expensive," Hunter said. "But we are breaking new ground in Mormon films... The more support we get from the Mormon community, the more we will have films made that match their standards and likes."
"The support for the film has been really amazing," Hale said. "We have had such a good response."
"As membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to grow, so does the need for communities to offer something special," Kennedy said.
By the way, there's a new movie put out by LaVelle Edwards and Steve Young called "The Singles Ward". It's a full-length motion picture to be released this winter. It is said to be so funny that the film crew often had to stop filming because they were laughing so hard and couldn't stop. It's written and directed by Kurt Hale, grandson of the famous playhouse Hales in SLC. It focuses on Mormon single life and is said to be hilarious. I'm really looking forward to it.
The producers of The Singles Ward have said that one of the songs on the film's soundtrack will be "Come, Come Ye Saints" by the rock band Slender.
Here are some liner notes from Slender's Haunted Radio,the source of this track:
Slender is cooler than your crazy uncle from the Hell's Angels. Led by the rip-roaring vocals of Rod Damnit and the dangerous guitar hooks of Clint Grubb, Slender takes you on a rocket-paced hoe down through a demented fun house with Haunted Radio, their first full length album. The quartet rounds out with the tight rhythm section of bassist Kent Carter and drummer Joe Martinez.
Haunted Radio is a mixture of punk and heavy metal from the eighties, infused with the strongest pop sensibilities since the Pixies. The songs catch you off guard, and while you're sure you've never heard anything like it before, there's something faintly familiar about it all. The album opens with a clean heavy metal riff on "Plumber John", and the fun doesn't end until the last song, the show-stopping cover of the Mormon hymn, "Come, Come Ye Saints". The songs cover themes like inebriated love (".08 Love"), the gentrification of San Francisco, and a plumber's conversion to the Jehovah's Witnesses ("Plumber John"). "Dirtnap Mamma" is leaner and badder than anything Kiss ever dreamed of, and infectious tunes like "Half-assed" and "Pleasanton" remind you of what's been missing from rock for years.
At its heart, Haunted Radio is a cavalcade of catchy riffs and an addictive assortment of diabolically humorous, good old fashioned rock with charmingly, devilish pop sensibilities. It was produced by Dwarves frontman Blag Dahlia and engineered by Brad Cook (Foo Fighters, Vandals, and Gloritone). The result is something undeniably more satisfying than anything new you've heard in a long time.
Ryan Little is also the director (but not D.P.) of a new feature film called "Out of Step," about a young Latter-day Saint dance student in New York City.
The news that Little was the D.P. on "The Singles Ward" comes from the official "Out of Step" web site. In the "Filmmakers" portion of the "Production" section, the brief biography for the film's director reads:
Award-winning director Ryan Little makes his feature film debut with "Out of Step." The Canadian-born filmmaker first captured the public's attention winning accolades from audiences and critics alike for his film The Last Good War. The film received The Jimmy Stewart Crystal Heart Memorial Award at the 1999 Heartland Film Festival and Best Dramatic Film at the 1999 Academy of Television Arts and Science College Awards. In addition to theatrical work Ryan has directed many TV commercials and other short films including the award-winning mockumentary Auteur. He recently completed working as the director of Photography on the hit comedy The Singles Ward, due in theatres January 2002.
If you enjoy "Singles Ward" (and if you don't you must be either dead or Pat Robertson) you'll want to check out The Skinny Lincolns. No less than THREE of the featured actors from "Singles Ward" are Skinny Lincoln cast members: Lincoln Hoppe is a founding Skinny Lincoln. He has been joined by Daryn Tufts (who was with Lincoln in the Garrens way back when) and humor prodigy Kirby Heyborne.
Seeing Hoppe, Tufts and Heyborne perform LIVE on stage is like going to a show at a dinner theater where Martin Short performs with Steve Martin, and Chris Kattan is your waiter.
The Skinny Lincolns perform shows every Friday and Saturday (except holidays), at Historic Trolley Square in Salt Lake City. Their website is at skinnylincolns.com.
Here is the listing:
The photographs appear to be production stills.
One photo that stands out is Lincoln Hoppe's: He is wearing glasses, a white shirt, and a large, bowtie. He looks preposterous, which is doubtless the intent. Hoppe plays "DeVerl," described on the casting sheet with the sentence: "This guy has been in the single's ward way too long."
Other pages are online now as well. The Soundtrack page (http://www.singleswardthemovie.com/soundtrack.html) sports a Flash-based song player which lists seven songs, including "God Be With You Till We Meet Again" and "Sunshine in my Soul." Best of all, there is indeed a new version of "Popcorn Popping." It would have been an inexcusable mistake to exclude "Popcorn." Thankfully, it's there, and the remake sounds great!
It is also notable that the soundtrack includes "In Our Lovely Deseret," which is hands down the funniest song in the hymnal, without doing anything to change it. (It's the one that talks about how we eat "eat very little meat" and specifically mentions shunning coffee and tea. I get a kick out of the song every time it is on the program.)
The complete list of songs listed on the "Singles Ward Sound Track" (as of 3 Jan. 2002) is:
A movie trailer is posted at http://www.singleswardthemovie.com/movietrailer.html
The trailer is VERY short. Technically it is a "teaser," not a "trailer" (to use movie marketing lingo). But the important thing is that the short video clip hints at a very funny movie with high production values equal to any Hollywood studio film.
The trailer starts with a black background and a rock music version of the primary song "I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Blocks of text are shown in a semi-handwritten, "comic book style" font:
The first bit of footage from the film shows Steve Young, dressed in a blue button-down shirt with a dark tie, apparently teaching a class. He states matter-of-factly: "If you're twenty-five and not married, you're a menace to society."
This is funny, because he is poking fun at himself for having been a bachelor for so long, during which time he quoted this particular aphorism that he attributed to his direct ancestor Brigham Young.
Then the words "The Singles War" slide onto the screen. The final "n" makes a belated entrance, sliding in place to change "War" into "Ward." (Very clever. I hope that's in the actual film.)
A tagline then appears in a small typeface below the film title: "The road to eternal marriage has never been longer!"
Then, in a large typeface:
The second and final actual clip from the film shows Gordon Jump (perhaps playing a school administrator) talking to a young man (the film's star, Will Swenson). Jump tells him, "Look, pal... If you wanna get married... Try a singles ward."
The "Theater Locations" page is at http://www.singleswardthemovie.com/theaterlocs.html
All of the the theater locations listed are in Utah except for one in Rexburg, Idaho (where BYU-Idaho is located). All of the dates for when the film starts playing in the these theaters are February 1st, 2001. Perhaps the actual opening date of this movie has been pushed back from the previously announced date of January 9, 2001. But the movie trailer includes text that states the film will be in theaters in January.
Also worth noting, the official website for HaleStorm Entertainment is online, although there is not much there yet. The URL is, of course, http://www.halestormentertainment.com
The site features four sections: Current Releases (blank), Coming Attractions, Home Video (blank) and About Halestorm.
Under "Coming Attractions" there is a link to the official "Singles Ward" website. There is also a brief plot description:
After a recent divorce, John must rediscover a world he's tried very hard to forget. Join him and some of his newfound friends as he learns about life in a singles ward, and that you actually can enjoy wholesome activities with a pickle...UPDATE: This plot description was replaced about a week later with the following:
This Mormon-niche film, "The Singles Ward", is a laugh-out-loud comedy of a young man's fall into inactivity, and his singles ward's attempt to return him to the fold. Based on a true story, this film offers a light-hearted, non-offensive look into the culture of Mormonism and the peculiarities of the 'single' Latter-day Saints therein.
The following text was copied from this page (http://www.halestormentertainment.com/about.html):
About HaleStorm Entertainment
HaleStorm Entertainment produces feature-length motion pictures that entertain, enlighten, and demonstrate a focused range of family values.
Family Feud: The 1923 silent comedy "Our Hospitality," one of Buster Keaton's first features, will be screened Thursday and Friday, 7:30 p.m., at the Organ Loft, 3331 S. Edison (half a block east of State Street) in South Salt Lake.
Keaton plays William McKay, last surviving member of a family involved in a blood feud with the rival Canfields. McKay returns to the South from New York to claim his family's estate -- and falls in love with Virginia Canfield (played by Natalie Talmadge, Keaton's first wife).
Of course, the Canfields can't abide this, but Southern hospitality deems it improper for them to kill him while he is a guest in their home. Keaton gets big laughs in the final chase scene, as he tries to stay in the Canfield house while the Canfields are trying to kill him.
Admission is $5, and reservations are recommended. Call 485-9265.
Meeting 'Singles': Cast and crew of the upcoming movie "Singles Ward" will speak Saturday, 4 p.m., at the Trolley Square Theatres.
The movie, filmed in Salt Lake City and Provo, is a romantic comedy about life in an LDS singles' ward. The movie was directed by Kurt Hale (son of Hale Center Theatres founders Ruth Hale and James Nathan Hale), and written by Hale and comic John E. Moyer.
Admission is $7, or $5 for students (with school ID). The event is sponsored by the Film Society of Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake City finally has its own Film Society
What if you could attend premieres of quality independent films like the ones you have heard about at film festivals like Sundance, Telluride, and Cannes?
What if you could meet and talk to the "next generation" of independent film directors at private events after their premiere screenings, enjoy engaging guest speakers, and see dynamic demonstrations of the latest in filmmaking software and equipment?
You can now enjoy all of this and so much more right here in Salt Lake City!
Introducing the Film Society of Salt Lake City.
"Every major city has a film society." says Wayne L. Lee, Founder of the Film Society. "I felt now is the time for Salt Lake City to embrace the incredible film community that we have here. The main purpose of the Film Society is two-fold: 1) to bring the film community together, and 2) to show quality films to the movie-going public that they may not see any other way. The films we are showcasing in the coming months will electrify this community." The Film Society is created under the direction of Mr. Lee in preparation for the 2002 Salt Lake City Film Festival to be held in August of 2002.
You can help support the Film Society and the local film community by coming out January 12, 2002 and passing this e-mail to your friends. Also, encourage them to join our e-mail list at: email@example.com, to stay up on all the events and other happenings of the Film Society.
In January, the Film Society will begin a new series called "Film Scene in Utah" which will focus on local film makers.
The special guests in this series will be the main cast and crew of the upcoming film Singles Ward, a wonderful romantic comedy that showcases the peculiarities of life in a typical singles ward and puts the adventures of dating under a humorous microscope. You won't want to miss this!
The Film Society is held the second Saturday of each month at 10 a.m. The Film Society is looking at several venues to host its meetings. The Final Three are: Trolley Square Theaters, Crossroads Mall Theaters, and the Broadway Theaters. This decision will be made shortly.
The Film Society is opened to the public.
Cost is $7.00 at the door, $5.00 for students and seniors, and $2.00 off with a copy of this e-mail.
Winter Special: If you bring a canned good item, you will receive an additional dollar off.
The Film Society of Salt Lake City is beginning a bi-monthly series called "Film Scene in Utah." This month's guests are the main cast and crew of the upcoming film "The Singles Ward," a romantic comedy on life in a typical LDS singles ward.
The society plans to give presentations the second Saturday of each month at 4 p.m. in the Trolley Square Live theaters, 600 S. 600 East, all open to the public. Cost is $7 at the door, $5 for students (with I.D.) and seniors. Youth (ages 7-12) are $3; children under 6 are free, accompanied by an adult.
OREM (Jan. 11) -- Laugh-out-loud comedy for and about Latter-day Saints may seem an unusual niche, but it's one filmmakers Dave Hunter and Kurt Hale believe they can fill.
Their first movie, "The Singles Ward," is set to premiere in Salt Lake City on Jan. 30, followed by a general release in 55 theaters in Utah, Idaho and Arizona on Feb. 1. "Singles Ward" is the first of three LDS audience-targeted films the BYU film school graduates plan to produce before jumping into the general feature film market.
Hunter and Hale, who call their fledgling company HaleStorm Entertainment, want to deal in the market they know before spreading their wings to encompass a larger one.
"The Singles Ward" will be followed by "The R.M.," about a returned missionary who returns to find his family has moved and his girl and job have both evaporated. Third will be "Church Ball," whose title is self-explanatory for anyone who's ever witnessed the sometimes less-than-sportsmanlike behavior of church ball teams.
"We know what'll work," says Hunter in explaining why he's doing what he's doing.
Noting that he doesn't care to produce the type of films that win, say, the Sundance Festival, and that it takes around $40 million to produce a general-audience feature, Hunter says, "We attacked this genre from a business plan. We know we can recoup the half-million [dollars] this cost."
But aside from pragmatic economics, he believes the subject matter will draw LDS audiences. The script is "a laugh-out-loud comedy" by John Moyer, a stand-up comedian in Los Angeles who happens to be LDS. The story line about a single guy who gets married, then divorced, and finds himself back in the weirdness of a singles ward is basically "modeled out of Moyer's life," according to Hunter. Hale co-wrote the script as well as directed filming.
Will Swenson -- who plays Jonathan, the lead character -- shuttled between a Broadway gig in New York and the film's shooting in Utah the entire month of September. His love interest, Cammie, is played by Connie Young, who lives in Salt Lake City.
Filming was done at easy-to-recognize locations throughout Utah County, as well as a handful in Salt Lake City, plus the LDS chapel in Wallsburg, near Heber. Hunter calls the 30-day shoot "the funnest month of my entire life."
Five months of pre-production work preceded it. Filming was followed by three grueling months of editing in preparation for getting the prints back and readying the premiere showing for Jan. 30.
More than 100 cast members appear in the movie, and there are several cameo appearances by well-known BYU sports figures, including Steve Young, Shawn Bradley, Wally Joyner, Danny Ainge and Lavell Edwards. Television actor Gordon Jump and former BYU student-turned-MTV "star" Julie Stoffer also appear briefly.
Hunter marvels that "all of our cameos were willing to come in and make fun of themselves." For example, LDS film producer-director-actor Richard Dutcher makes an appearance with comments disparaging his own movie, "God's Army."
Utah County bands, including Clover and Ponchillo, recorded covers of LDS hymns and Primary songs for a soundtrack, and Cody Hale composed an original score to fill it out. Guapo Records has released the album, which is available in local music outlets.
Hunter sees "Singles Ward" and the two LDS-oriented comedies to follow as progress toward making bigger, general-release feature films.
"I know it sounds corny," he says, "but we really want to get in and make great films for the world to see. These are our stepping stones."
-- See more about "Singles Ward" and HaleStorm Entertainment on at www.singleswardthemovie.com. The soundtrack may also be ordered online.
The price is $15.95.
The LDS film genre may disappear if local and national audiences do not increase their support for this year's movie releases such as "Out of Step," "Singles Ward" and "Charly.".
Ryan Little, director of photography in Spanish Fork and a BYU graduate, said the problem with making a multimillion dollar film for the LDS audience difficult due to the uncertainty about a financial return.
"That's why these films are low-budget," he said.
Little said making low-budget films is hard.
"You have creative restrictions because you can't always film where you want. You can't always have big price actors in the movie. That doesn't mean the actors aren't good. It just means you can't have star power attached to your product," Little said.
However, "The Other Side of Heaven" starred rising actress Anne Hathaway.
"People argue 'The Other Side of Heaven' is a beautiful film with actors people recognize. But the film cost $7 million to make," Little said.
By comparison, Managing Director of Zion Films, Emily Pearson, said "God's Army" cost $300,000 to make, and "Brigham City" $900,000.
Little said those in the LDS film industry know if they invest more money they won't see their financial return, and then they won't be able to continue making these films.
"The rule of thumb is that you have to make three times what it costs you to make the film to get your financial return back," Little said. With "The Other Side of Heaven," a return of $21 million would be necessary.
Mary Jane Jones, the media relations representative of Excel Entertainment Group, said "The Other Side of Heaven" has earned more than $800,000. However, the producers are not nervous about recouping costs.
"It's just begun to play. We plan to open in every state, and internationally," Jones said.
Little said the LDS market is not big enough because people do not go see the films, or they wait until it goes to dollar theaters.
"If the Mormon audience really wants to see high quality end products, they have to vote with their dollar. They have to support these films," he said.
Little encourages people to participate by going to Web sites and telling producers what they want, like or don't like in these types of films.
Little, who recently directed the upcoming film, "Out of Step," likes the feedback, but still finds it difficult to make these types of films.
"I tried really hard to make a film that was intended for the LDS audience and still tell an interesting story with conflict in it," he said, "but do it in such a way that if you weren't LDS, you could still relate and enjoy the story. I wanted to bridge the two markets."
"Out of Step" is about a girl who is from Utah, who kind of lives a sheltered Mormon life, and wants to be a professional dancer, Little said. She goes to New York and learns very quickly what it is like to be a minority, from a religious standpoint.
Alison Akin Clark, a BYU graduate, plays the main character, he said.
Her character has to decide on her own who she wants to be and what her values are going to be, Little said.
"It's kind of a coming-of-age film."
The film also stars Michael Buster from "God's Army" and Jeremy Elliott from "Testaments," and has music composed by Merrill Jenson.
Little called this year a make-or-break year in determining if the LDS film genre will continue. The success of this year's releases could directly affect other planned projects, he said.
"Out of Step" will release the trailer Thursday morning at Jordan Commons. The event is free and open to the public.
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