LANSING — Aesthetically unchanged since the 1960s, with crisp wooden-paneling and rocket ship-styled ball returns, Lan-Oak Lanes provided the perfect retro look for former Munster resident Kendall Goldberg’s short film “When Jeff Tried to Save the World.”
In the vein of films such as “Way Way Back” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World,” and with a cast including Jim O’Heir (“Parks and Recreation”), Jon Heder (“Napoleon Dynamite") and Jeremy Shada (“Adventure Time”), Goldberg’s choice to film at home might sound surprising.
“We were planning on shooting in Los Angeles, but I scouted about 30 bowling alleys out there and none of them had the right look,” said Goldberg, a 21-year-old film student at California’s Chapman University. “It looked too new, so we came here and found this. Coincidentally, Jim O’Heir grew up bowling here and this is where his family is from, so it was kind of cool. We really like the place and the owner has been super nice.”
Written as a feature film with friend and fellow 21-year-old Munster resident Rachel Borgo, Goldberg is shooting it as a short to serve as a proof of concept that can be submitted to festivals and shown to investors to gather funding to shoot the full-length feature next summer. The premise involves manager, Jeff (JonHeder), of Winky’s World of Gaming and Bowling, being hit with the unexpected news of the bowling alley’s closing, so he does everything in his power to try and save it from going out of business.
“I think the cast really believes in the project and they like the script, so they wanted to help out with the short,” Goldberg said. “This was originally who we had cast and had in mind for the feature. ... A lot of the pieces are coming together and doing the short is a nice step forward for us.”
Located at 2524 Ridge Road in Lansing, Lan-Oak Lanes serves as the set for 90 percent of the short and, if they can return after becoming fully-funded, 80 percent of the feature. With Heder in the lead and O’Heir, Shada, Candi Milo (“Dexter’s Laboratory”) and Danny Goldring (“The Dark Knight”) playing supporting roles, the short was filmed from Thursday through Sunday of last week.
Built by Dale Genovese’s grandfather in 1953, the bowling alley is now run by him, his father and his brother.
“It’s old school. Aside from expanding from 8 to 16 lanes sometime in the ‘60s, we haven’t made any major changes except for automatic scoring and a little bit of cosmic bowling stuff that we put in,” Genovese said.
“She was originally trying to get it on the west coast, but all the bowling centers over there are huge and they’re brand new, and nobody would ever think of shutting down to let them shoot a movie,” he continued. “She’s a great gal and I’ve met her family and, you know, I’ve got three daughters that are trying to make it too, so if I can help out, why not?”