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Matthews-Mint Hill - Carolina Weekly Newspapers

Matthews-Mint Hill - Carolina Weekly Newspapers

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT A

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT A guide to events, organizations and people in the community On ‘Trial’ in Ballantyne Upcoming movie, rich with local ties, films in Charlotte by Sean O’Connell sean@matthewsminthillweekly.com Mark Freiburger (left) on the set of “The Trial,” a legal thriller that filmed scenes at The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge. Freiburger, a Providence High School graduate, serves as coproducer and co-screenwriter of the film, which is based on a Robert Whitlow novel. (Above) The crew behind the “The Trial” recently took over the pool area at the hotel. Director Gary Wheeler, right, discusses a scene with his crew and sets up a shot on the balcony overlooking the pool deck at the south Charlotte resort. Sean O’Connell/MMHW photos The outdoor pool at The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge was ritzy even before film director Gary Wheeler brought his crew to town to film scenes for “The Trial,” an upcoming feature-length adaptation of a Robert Whitlow novel. But the south Charlotte hot spot appeared extra cool last week when surrounded by cameras, lighting technicians, boom microphones, producers, assistant directors and bona fide Hollywood stars. Co-written and co-produced by Charlottean Mark Freiburger, “The Trial” stars Matthew Modine, Robert Forster, Rance Howard and Bob Gunton. It centers on a suicidal, small-town attorney (played by Modine) whose life takes a drastic turn when he begins working on a capital punishment case. In researching the case, the lawyer realizes that the man he’s defending, who’s been accused of murdering his girlfriend, is innocent. “Ultimately the movie becomes about trying to save a young man’s life in order (for the lawyer) to save his own life, as well,” Freiburger said. “It’s kind of a classic legal thriller.” Wheeler, a Huntersville native who also helmed an adaptation of Whitlow’s “The List,” spent two weeks in Monroe shooting trial scenes at the Old Courthouse on North Main Street. The production spent two additional days in Ballantyne filming at the hotel’s pool and on its golf course. “The Trial” should be in the can by spring. Freiburger said he’s currently in discussion with 20th Century Fox, which distributed “The List,” and hopes this film follows a similar release strategy: a 15-city theatrical run before a strong DVD push. He’d also like to tap into the existing infrastructure of supportive church communities that, in the past, have shown the desire to rent theaters and screen positive, faith-based films. Wheeler and Freiburger plan to move from “The Trial” to “Jimmy,” another film adapted from a Whitlow novel. They are co-writing the piece for Freiburger to direct. “In a nutshell, it is about a mentally challenged boy who interacts with angels,” he said. Freiburger, a Providence High School graduate who also attended North Carolina School of the Arts, wouldn’t commit to filming “Jimmy” in Charlotte. But maintaining a local tie is very important to the Los Angeles-based filmmaker. He has a production office in SouthPark. And his debut film, “Dog Days of Summer,” was filmed in the Carolinas. “We’re all from here,” he said. “The Whitlows live here. Gary Wheeler lives here. We prefer to film these movies in Charlotte.” q Page 18 • Nov. 20-26, 2009 • Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly DECEMBER 1-6 • OVENS AUDITORIUM 704.372.1000 • BlumenthalCenter.org Group Sales: 704.379.1380 KIDS’ NIGHT ON BROADWAY Child FREE with paying adult - Tuesday, Dec. 1! Visit BlumenthalCenter.org/KNOB or call 704.372.1000 and request the Kids’ Night special. www.matthewsminthillweekly.com

Great Family Fun For The Holidays! Dec. 4-29 A fun-filled, holiday romp based on two of Laura Numeroff’s wildly popular books! Dec. 11-23 A music-filled holiday favorite from our own Tarradiddle Players! 704-973-2828 (10-5, M-F) ctcharlotte.org Pick a Package and Save! Great productions coming this spring! Order three or more shows at the same time and save $2.00 off each ticket! Spread the News ... Winter Classes Begin in February! Enrichment classes at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte inspire creativity and confidence in a fun, nurturing environment. Exceptional teachers and small class sizes make for wonderful learning experiences. We are now registering for our Winter Education Classes for ages 3-18 at ImaginOn and satellites. Visit our website for all the details! www.matthewsminthillweekly.com Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly • Nov. 20-26, 2009 • Page 19

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