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Screenings & Festivals

The Story Behind the Making of the Film

It all began with a quiet breakfast meeting that Director Amy S. Weber had with a local aspiring filmmaker. A simple moment between two filmmakers with similar passions, discussing the industry and sharing their dreams for the future.  But it was something that her breakfast companion said that resonated and wedged itself into Amy’s thoughts. “Make your film,” he said. Amy began to think of it as a mantra. Make your film, make your film, make your film… but what film?  She’d had plenty of ideas for screenplays in the past, even one written. But she was still searching for that ONE IDEA.

Then came the idea.  That same day, as she drove down I-96 toward her parent’s home for a family dinner with her spouse and 2 small daughters, a rugged, tough guy riding past them on his motorcycle caught her attention. Amy wondered what his story was all about. She thought of her own 2-year-old daughter in the backseat, and suddenly it struck her. What if that big, burly biker had a 2-year-old girl strapped to the back of that bike? What would his story be then?  At that moment, the story began to come to life as she continued to drive, sharing with her family each scene in detail, from beginning to end.  By the time she arrived at her parent’s home, the story was conceived.

Amy placed a call to Tracey D. Sims, her frequent collaborator and co-writer. Amy began to animatedly reel off her story to Tracey, and only after a few minutes, Tracey was hooked and ready to begin.  It was the first of many long phone calls, emails and drafts that would eventually lead them to the poignant, moving tale of a little girl named Annabelle and her estranged father, Bear.

More than 27 drafts of the script were written over the following eight months. When the final touches were delicately placed into the final draft, Amy, and the amazing staff at her company, Radish Creative Group, Inc., forged ahead, making her filmmaking dream into a reality. But she didn’t run to Hollywood for financing or try to sell the script. She decided to make the film the way SHE wanted to: with a group of talented, like-minded people who wanted to work hard and tell a good story. She turned to those she trusted the most, the talented players whom she repeatedly works with on most of her commercial productions, including her extraordinary Director of Photography, Peter Sensor.  Amy was now well on her way.  What she didn’t yet realize was that the journey she was igniting would soon take on a life of its own.

With the enactment of the Michigan Film Production Credit in 2008, the Detroit area suddenly became a hotbed of filmmaking. The state was filled with gifted, eager people from all walks of life who after watching Amy on a Fox 2 News report announcing her plans for the film to be 100% Michigan-made, came out of the woodwork, ready to be a part of something big. Open casting and crewing auditions unearthed hundreds of amazing people who came to assist her, not only with the look and feel, but also the soul of the film itself.

Shot over a very tight 15-day period, in more than eight different cities across the state, the film’s cast and crew became a true family. From the innovative Art and Wardrobe departments, working with a micro budget, to the incredibly talented cast of local actors who brought the story to life, the heart of Annabelle & Bear is a true testament to Michigan and to the extraordinary people who call Michigan home.

From the donated locations, catering, supporting and craft services to the hundred-plus crew members that worked tirelessly for free, to the hundreds of musicians who participated in a competition for the incredible movie soundtrack, the community rallied around Annabelle & Bear. It seemed to be what Michigan was waiting for.

Annabelle & Bear is a story with heart and spirit that is much more than merely a film. It was an opportunity to unite people in experiencing filmmaking firsthand, to give actors  a nurturing environment to blossom and to give aspiring talent the chance to be discovered.  It has been hailed as a beacon of hope for a struggling state that is plagued by negativity.

For Amy Weber, it was a chance to live a dream, to see her small seed of an idea become larger than life. What began as a simple daydream became an extraordinary journey that brought a community together and inspired so many to live their dreams and to believe in themselves, even in the most difficult of times.