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Royal Oak brothers take to big screen in indie film

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published March 3, 2020

 Brothers Jack Urich, 22, left, and Sam Urich, 26, right, both of Royal Oak, play twin brothers in a fictional punk rock band in the indie film “Dinner in America,” which recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The brothers are also in a real-life alternative rock band called Wølfdarling.

Brothers Jack Urich, 22, left, and Sam Urich, 26, right, both of Royal Oak, play twin brothers in a fictional punk rock band in the indie film “Dinner in America,” which recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The brothers are also in a real-life alternative rock band called Wølfdarling.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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ROYAL OAK — “Dinner in America,” an independent film shot in metro Detroit that follows an aggro punk rocker played by Kyle Gallner, recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

Director Adam Carter Rehmeier sourced much of the cast and crew locally, and when a local talent agency cast its net for the roles of twin brothers in a punk rock band, Sam Urich, 26, and Jack Urich, 22, of Royal Oak, fit the bill perfectly.

Sam and Jack are brothers who could pass for twins, despite a four-year age difference. They also play in a real-life alternative rock band called Wølfdarling. Singer-songwriter Sam plays lead guitar and Jack plays bass guitar.

They auditioned for the roles in the summer of 2018 and spent some long nights on set filming in the fall of 2018. The film’s locations include a house in Southfield, a diner by Northwestern Highway and Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Farmington Hills.

In the movie, Sam and Jack play the protagonist’s antagonistic bandmates. They exchange very strong language and butt heads with Gallner’s character over the direction of the band.

“The movie is an indie film very much like ‘Napoleon Dynamite,’ but very unique in its own kind of caliber, except this film is a lot more raunchy. It’s a dark comedy with lots of swearing and lots of aggression,” Sam said. “It’s the exact opposite of how we are in real life and our band.”

He said he and Jack were thrilled for the opportunity to act in the film. While Sam played a role in the 2010 film “Alleged” and has done commercials and voiceover work, “Dinner in America” was Jack’s first professional experience.

“It was honestly one of the harder things I’ve done in my life, just going through the takes over and over again,” Jack said. “But it couldn’t have been better working with my brother on the film.”

Sam said that while he and Jack got pretty tired after a while, the experience was a lot of fun. He said they enjoyed the camaraderie on set, and that the film was a “super passion project.”

“We were getting paid peanuts and we didn’t give a damn because this was just about making a killer product,” Sam said. “It’s our drum kit (in the film). They used our guitars in the concert scene, our amps. It took a village. We had the equipment, so we just gave it to them. It was really, really great.”

While filmmakers cut some of their scenes that portrayed their comedic side, Sam and Jack said they were grateful for the experience all the same.

“If you don’t dive in with a script like this, a story like this, if you don’t have people who are ready to jump in 110%, it falls apart because the characters are really specific — not over the top, but hyper aggressive,” Gallner said during a question-and-answer session after a screening of “Dinner in America” at the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor Feb. 27.

Rehmeier said the Detroit area was ideal for the film’s setting because, from a production standpoint, “it was super easy for us for a lot of it to plug and play.” He said the art department barely had to dress or change sets.

“Detroit had the look we were looking for — kind of washed-out middle class. A lot of buildings hadn’t been updated since the ’90s,” he said. “We didn’t specifically do blighted-out areas, but we picked things with a color palette that we wanted.”

A Nebraska native, Rehmeier said he wanted the narrative to revolve around four Midwestern dinners and incorporate ideas about food and eating in America. The film, he said, was his first time using a theme, in this case, “dinner.”

He said the most personal parts of the film for him were the parts that relate to music. The fictional punk rock band, Psyops, is modeled off of Windsor-based band Disco Assault, and Disco Assault drummer Matthew Menard played himself in the movie.

Disco Assault guitarist Matt Bishop said he responded to a post seeking talent on a punk/hardcore forum on Facebook and heard back about six months later. He said Disco Assault’s description as a “Reagan-era punk/hardcore band” drew filmmakers’ attention.

The movie’s soundtrack includes three of Disco Assault’s tracks with Gallner’s vocals, as well as an original song called “Dinner in America,” which features vocals and lyrics by co-star Emily Skeggs.

Sam said the Urich brothers’ primary passion is music. Wølfdarling’s next performance is May 30 at The Loving Touch in Ferndale, and they are working on an EP called “tumulus [love actualized, life destroyed].”

Sam, a creative writing major at the University of Michigan, plans to study abroad in Sweden this summer. He aspires to relocate the band to Sweden and break into the music scene there, rather than Detroit or Los Angeles.

For more information about “Dinner in America,” visit www.sundance.org/projects/dinner-in-america. For more information about Wølfdarling, visit www.facebook.com/wolfdarlingmusic.

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