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The Locals Make a Holiday Movie

Joan Jerkovich - December 18, 2013 12:42 pm

The list of movie credits reads like a who’s who of Salina and Lindsborg, Kansas. Perseverance, teamwork and collaboration is what making a movie is all about, but it all starts with the seeds of a good screenplay and the vision of the movie producers who set the wheels in motion. I am proud to be one of those producers.

Written, directed, and produced by JT O’Neal, “Au Pair, Kansas” was filmed in Lindsborg and Salina for three weeks just before Christmas in December 2008. The movie has just secured a domestic distribution deal, which means, it is now available for purchase in the United States. Just in time for that last minute Christmas gift for your friends and family!

Watch the trailer and see if you recognize any of the extras, (I’m in there!) and please Buy This Movie!

Visit my Facebook Page for a full listing of the cast and crew. You’re sure to see the names of many local people and businesses. Give the post a “Share” to get the word out that “Au Pair, Kansas” is now available for purchase!

Here are some of my favorite memories of the making of this sweet little Holiday film, and thanks for indulging this writer in her walk down memory lane!

Traci Lords, our lead actress, will always be remembered by me as a person who is beautiful inside and out. Besides being talented and gracious to work with, I found her to be an intelligent, savvy businesswoman. On our second day of filming, Traci told me she thought I should take over as the Lead Producer. What a compliment, coming from a seasoned actress who had just finished a film with Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks, and years earlier was in a film with my all-time favorite, Johnny Depp. I like to think we had a mutual respect for each other.

A fond memory I have of Traci is of her, her husband and 18-month-old son living for three weeks at my home during the filming of our movie. On our one day per week off, I had a meeting with a local contractor at my home and we could see Traci playing with her son outside on the driveway. In the middle of our meeting, he just stopped talking, looked outside, and said, “I can’t believe I’m here having a meeting and there is Traci Lords just outside the window!” It was surreal to me as well.

My good luck, I got the job of picking our other lead actor up at the Kansas City airport. Havard Lilleheie is a Norwegian television and film star and I remember most of our three hour conversation on the ride from the Kansas City airport being about politics, specifically how much he and his fellow countrymen didn’t like President George W. Bush and how his wife was about to have a baby. I also remember the day of shooting when the Norwegian television crew showed up to film a news piece about Havard doing this movie in the United States with Traci Lords. We were impressed that they flew a film crew in all the way from Norway! It was then that someone asked Havard if he was like a Tom Cruise in Norway? JT our director knew he was a big star, but the rest of us were just figuring it out.

Spencer Daniels, who played the role of the oldest son told me how he really looked up to Havard as an actor. Spencer was a talent in his own right and I remember feeling star struck around Spencer because he had just finished a role in the movie “Benjamin Button” where he portrayed a 12-year-old Benjamin Button in a scene at the piano with Kate Blanchett! Such a talented young man, we were lucky to have him in our film.

A drag queen in Lindsborg? Oscar Quintero played our drag queen. I remember eating lunch with Oscar at the downtown Lindsborg Mexican Restaurant when he was in full make-up getting ready for his shoot, but didn’t have his big wig and costume on yet. (One had to call his outfits “costumes” as they were so drag-rageous!) It was just Oscar with crazy long eyelashes and garish, drag queen makeup with his natural, short black hair in jeans and a t-shirt. He was quite the novelty in Lindsborg and Traci Lords, who was eating with us, got a chuckle out of all the locals who came in asking Oscar if they could get a picture with him. The funny part of this was that Traci was our star, but Oscar was getting all the attention! Yet, Oscar is a star in his own right and as a top selling Tupperware salesman in Los Angeles hosts his parties in drag, does the weather in LA and was even on “The Real Housewives of Orange County” doing a Tupperware party! LA Drag meets small town Kansas!

Other fond memories I have of shooting the movie are: having my girlfriends come down to be shot as extras for the scene in the coffee shop; how the SAG actors from LA were so afraid of tornados even though we don’t have tornados in December in Kansas; how our German producer Hans-Martin Liebing was able to secure a brand new VW Beetle Convertible used for a scene shot in the bitter cold with sleet falling on the actors who were driving with the top down; of our dearly departed angel investor Ron Stam who, as he was not an actor, probably had the most takes in any scene, but through his generosity made this movie happen (love and miss you Ron!);  of our extraordinary cinematographer Marco Fargnoli, who not only worked so well with the cast and crew but made this film a lasting work of visual art; I also remember how scary those buffalo were and how, as a producer, I was taken aback by how a couple of days of shooting buffalo hiked our insurance costs!

Working on this film, I got to meet so many amazing people that I will never forget.  I made one of my dearest friends in JT O’Neal.  This is his movie, through and through.  We all just helped him with it!  To all the cast, crew, and community members who helped make this film I say, “Thanks For The Memories” and may our memories live on in our heartwarming, touching, funny Holiday film “Au Pair, Kansas” that we made the winter of 2008 in Lindsborg and Salina, Kansas.

“Au Pair, Kansas” has been retitled to “The Soccer Nanny” for foreign distribution.

Joan Jerkovich, BCC Joan Jerkovich, BCC
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