Movie will be filmed in downtown Elgin starting June 5
It took years for Mark Stewart Iverson to write a script and raise funds for his first feature-length movie, and when it came time to film it, he chose downtown Elgin.
Iverson, of Elk Grove Village, will make his solo directorial debut in the upcoming "For Prophet," which he describes as a comedy/drama, or "dramedy," telling the story of Damon Pender, a small-town business owner who tries to save the local homeless shelter from closing while in a tug-of-war between an angel and a demon.
The film will be shot almost entirely in downtown Elgin, with a few scenes in Wheaton. Filming will take place June 5-26, with exterior shooting June 8-9 and June 19-20. A protest staged across from the Elgin Tower Building will be filmed June 20.
Iverson said he fell in love with downtown Elgin while scouting locations across the suburbs.
"There's that history and there's some grittiness too," he said. "It's not revamped and repolished and repackaged (like other suburban downtowns). There's weight to everything. Even if there is something newer, it's next to something older."
While faith is an element of "For Prophet," it is not a traditional faith-based movie, Iverson said.
"I think there is a giant market for people who want to see a character-driven movie and also have faith, but don't need to see a message-driven movie," he said.
The film will have a cast and crew of more than 50 people mostly from Illinois, with some actors from out of state, production manager Timothy Voelker said. First United Methodist Church will lend office space and Dream Hall will provide catering, he said.
Elgin is "a very supportive artistic community," said Voelker, who lived in Elgin until this month, when he moved to Chicago.
"From its architecture down to Jerry the barber (Jerry Newman at Central Barber Shop), there's so much history there and the town has just seen so much over time. ... It's a small spot to navigate in the grand scheme, but it definitely feels big and it has a heart. That's the thing that shone through when we considered other locations."
Iverson said he and lead producer Enrico Natale, a Chicago native now based in Los Angeles, have been trying to make a movie together for years.
Natale has produced more than a dozen feature films, including "The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain" and "Amelia 2.0." Iverson co-wrote and codirected the Hulu web series "Dorm Life."
Iverson said he's worked with the homeless in the past, both on his own in Los Angeles and through the efforts of Our Savior's United Methodist Church in Schaumburg. It was only after he started scouting Elgin that he learned about the city's efforts to address the presence of homeless people downtown, he said.
"I have this story to tell and I have been working on it for years and years, and I do think it can help to put into people's heads it is good to fight for the homeless."