Movie stars are spotted dining at a cafe on Main Street in Wheaton. Extras line the sidewalk near an Elmhurst theater on York Road. A production designer dresses a popular Naperville restaurant for a scene. And local actors collaborate with a director at a high school campus in Glen Ellyn. Sights like these could be common to the area next summer when current Wheaton resident Kevin Cooper brings his production to DuPage.
Cooper spent the better part of his adult life making movies in Hollywood. He worked as an executive with Michael Bay on the film Armageddon, and while with Fox had worked on movies such as The Thin Red Line, Fight Club and Men Of Honor. Cooper later produced Secondhand Lions starring Michael Caine and Robert Duvall. “In Los Angeles I worked on all types of films and at all levels of production from development up through producing,” Cooper said. “It’s been an amazing ride so far.”
Next up for this seasoned filmmaker is a family-friendly dog movie he is directing called Shakey. This low-budget independent film is slated to begin production next summer here in DuPage and stars Steve Lemme, a member of the cult favorite comedy group Broken Lizard, which produced Super Troopers, Beerfest and the new film The Slammin’ Salmon, opening in theaters Friday, December 11th and starring Chicago-native Michael Clarke Duncan.
Hollywood screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, writers of the recent Friday The 13th and also DreamWorks’ Shark Tale, penned Shakey based on Cooper’s own life experience. “I’ve always been inspired by living in the Midwest and love the people,” Cooper said. “This will be the first film I make here, and I’m glad it’s this family movie Shakey.”
The project’s local producer is Brian Tedeschi. “It’s fun to be making an entertaining family film right here in DuPage County,” Tedeschi said. “Shakey is a very exciting project to bring to this community.”
Mr. Cooper’s independent film company Amarok Productions is headquartered in Los Angeles and operated by associate Taejung Lee, who also has a connection to the Land Of Lincoln. “I grew up in Korea and attended college in Illinois,” Lee said. “Shakey is a favorite of mine and it’s great to see he’s in good hands.”
It is Mr. Cooper’s goal after completing this film to move his base of operations to his own town of Wheaton, Illinois.