AL HAMNIK: Gavit grad Wolters shooting for a walk on the red carpet

2014-01-07T18:45:00Z 2014-01-12T16:06:24Z AL HAMNIK: Gavit grad Wolters shooting for a walk on the red carpetAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
January 07, 2014 6:45 pm  • 

James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese didn't rent a tux after their first movie and limo over to the Academy Awards.

It took years to leave their mark on the industry.

Who knows? Maybe one day writer/director/producer/actor Justin Wolters will set up shop in Hollywood, turning out movies you'll line up to see at AMC Showplace 16 and 12.

Give him time, though. He just turned 28.

Justin's latest endeavor is "Pinned," a comedy about high school wrestling with a strong Hammond Gavit connection and dealing with the antics of two best friends, the stress of making weight, childhood rivalries, and the travails of girl trouble.

"Pinned" took six months to film, two years to edit, and had a budget of $500. I kid you not.

Wolters will have a free showing of his movie at 7 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Portage 16 IMAX.

The dedication to his craft is a movie script in itself.

As for your main characters, 2004 Gavit grad Wolters plays Justin; 2010 Highland grad Andrew Biesen plays Billy and 2004 Griffith grad Thomas Knoezer is Nicky.

The other cast members and entire work crew are Northwest Indiana residents.

Justin had hoped to do much of the filming at Gavit but said the school board wanted almost $3,000 a day, so many of the scenes were shot at the Purdue University Calumet fieldhouse and in one classroom that was transformed into a nurse's office, a coaches' office and, of course, a classroom.

Showing great ingenuity and commitment, Justin also shot scenes at his parents' home, the homes of friends, and -- get this -- at the Best Western in Schererville.

"Anybody who sees the trailer won't believe it's a $500 budget," he said, quite proudly.

Matt Damon makes a reported $24 million per picture. Nobody associated with "Pinned" made a dime. All worked for free and for the valuable exposure on IMDB.com (Internet Movie Data Base).

"They were all pretty cool," Justin said of not being paid. "At this level, most people do it for IMDB credit."

Justin Wolters wrestled from sixth grade through high school at Gavit, but none of his cast had even stepped on a mat. So he brought in real wrestlers to teach them.

"We had 'em running, lifting, grappling, taking shots," he said. "There were some bruises but no one got hurt."

Marketing the film is being done through social media and the generosity of the Portage 16 IMAX.

"Facebook makes it pretty easy for you to get their feedback on what they like," Justin said. "People from Gavit, of course, are extremely excited seeing their school's lettermen's jackets.

"The best response has been from college-age kids."

Distribution will be through either Netflix or iTunes.

Making a full-length film was not a knee-jerk response for Justin, like forming a garage rock band.

He's been acting since third grade and has done commercials for the USA Network and various online dating web sites.

Justin also was an extra in The Express (Dennis Quaid, Rob Brown); The Dark Knight (Christian Bale, Heath Ledger); The Break Up (Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Aniston) and The Lake House (Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reeves).

"Honestly, I've had a helluva lot of jobs but my hardest day of filming -- creating magic, something out of nothing -- is the most fun I've had on a job," Justin said.

He hopes his movie pins you to your seat with laughter.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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