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Queer Cinema Meets Independent Filmmaking in Chicago

January 4, 2012 | By | Add a Comment

Update: The filmmakers of In Bloom have just released their initial teaser trailer! Check it out at the bottom of this article, (originally published July 22, 2011).

Amanda Brinton

Chicago filmmaking has never been so indie.

Ex-film school student Chris Birkmeier is about to embark on the independent filmmaker’s dream journey.  The 21 year-old Michigan-native is putting everything on the line to make his first feature film, In BloomLiberum Pictures is producing this anti-love story of sorts to be shot on a micro-budget with a volunteer crew.  Production for In Bloom begins in August and will last roughly three weeks.

In Bloom tells the story of a young gay couple, Kurt and Paul, as they struggle to maintain their loving relationship amidst the temptation of a hot Chicago summer.  Birkmeier, who is directing In Bloom, also wrote the script while studying film at Columbia College.  The script began as a boy-meets-girl love story, but Birkmeier decided to rewrite it after struggling to feel a connection to the story and characters.  One year and several revisions later, In Bloom became a story of first love and self-discovery.

“As a gay man, I wanted to write a story about a gay relationship.  But I wanted it to be a piece that speaks to everyone—homosexual or heterosexual—a story about love,” Birkmeier stated.  “Queer cinema is still so young and new. I think there’s so much potential for it.” Much of queer cinema and films like Brokeback Mountain portray gay men as not openly gay or confident.  “There are no movies about just living life openly.  About the tough sh*t that everyone goes through.”  In Bloom is a story of gay love, but with all the political baggage aside.

Heavily inspired by the films of the Steven Spielberg, Paul Thomas Anderson and Xavier Dolan, Birkmeier began making short films in grade school. After high school he moved to Chicago where he studied film and video for two and a half years. During his stay at Columbia, Birkmeier met and befriended professor Miguel Silveira, a Brazilian filmmaker who became a great inspiration and source of encouragement for the aspiring director. Birkmeier also established the friendships and connections needed to make a feature film with a volunteer crew. Although a majority of the crew are Columbia students, In Bloom has no official connection to the college.  The independent production will take place all on-location in Chicago with cinematographer Dustin Supencheck shooting on the Canon 5D.  Portland, Oregon electronica band STRFKR recently signed on to score the film.  Birkmeier directed the music video for their song “Quality Time” in March of 2011, available to stream here. Longtime collaborator and co-founder of Liberum Pictures Collin Mauro will edit In Bloom.

Birkmeier decided against seeking support from Columbia for In Bloom.  “If they charge me a dollar to print a page, I doubt they’d give me twenty grand to make a movie.”  Like other independent projects, In Bloom has sought support through online investors as well as family and friends.  The film’s indiegogo.com page has surpassed its $8,000 goal and raised more than $11,000.  Using an online funding platform has been “extremely nerve-wracking” Birkmeier said, with daily check-ins to the film’s page.

After production, a behind-the-scenes video blog will be on Liberum Picture’s website with a trailer to follow.  Birkmeier plans to send In Bloom to several international film festivals, in particular Chicago International. Updates on the production, blog, and trailer to come.

When asked about returning to film school after In Bloom, Birkmeier stated that he will likely instead begin writing the script for his next passion project. He’d like to stay Chicago, which he believes is the next Los Angeles.

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