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September 26, 2012

Brothers band together to make a movie — part two

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

The Kopera brothers, who hail from Troy, are teaming up again to make movie history with a film about a hapless screenwriting team that has one last chance to make it or break it.

Steve and Mike Kopera had a measure of success with their last film endeavor, “My Friend Peter,” the story of a world in which everyone carries monkey puppets that interact with people. Mike, an actor and producer who now lives in Los Angeles, wrote the screenplay. It was inspired by his own monkey puppet, which he wrapped around the base of a lamp and took to college at Northwestern University, then out to Los Angeles.

Steve, who lives in Ann Arbor, also graduated from Northwestern. He directed “My Friend Peter,” an 11-minute comedy starring Mike. The project competed in the Blue Water Film Festival in Port Huron last fall. Although they didn’t set out to make it a film for children, it won two awards — best actor and best screenplay — in that category.

The brothers, cast and crew will head up to Boyne City next month amid the autumn splendor to shoot “The Cabining,” a comedy/horror film that tells the story of Todd, played by Mike, and Bruce, played by Bo Keister, who get one last shot to write a worthy horror script, thanks to Todd’s wealthy stepdad, who will fund the entire project if and only if they can complete it in one week. So the pair retreats to what they believe is an idyllic writer’s retreat to bang out the script, but one by one, writers are dying off. Bruce convinces Todd to stick it out and mine their circumstances for material, and soon they are fighting for their lives, too.

“It’s in the inspired style of  (the movie) “Shaun of the Dead,” but without zombies,” Steve said.

He explained that the setting was initially summer, rather than fall, but he and Mike had a hard time raising the money to make the film. Mike and Steve’s parents, Troy residents Jack and Jan Kopera, scouted Michigan locations, caterers and craft services for the set.

Steve said the actors, many of whom are from Los Angeles, were looking forward to the cooler Michigan fall weather because it’s been so hot in Los Angeles this summer. The cast includes J.P. Manoux, who appeared in later seasons of the TV show “ER.” He’ll portray Monroe in “The Cabining.”

Keister said acting was his childhood dream.

“I love horror/comedy films, so I jumped at the chance,” he said. “When I read (the character) of Bruce, I knew I had to play him. He’s a fun, likeable guy. Typically, I play bad guys, so this will be a refreshing change of pace.”

He explained that when playing a character like Bruce, there’s a danger of making him over the top and trying to make him too funny. “The character is funny already,” he said. “So my job is to make him real and let him be him.”

With the admittedly low budget, Steve said the full-length feature will likely go straight to DVD or TV distribution.

“It’s unlikely you’ll see it in a theater unless we hit the jackpot,” Steve laughed.

For information about “The Cabining,” visit http://thecabining.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.