A Roswell-based production company will premier “Camp” March 1 at the Galaxy 8 — a heartwarming film that the local writer hopes will inspire and capture the hearts of movie goers.
The faith-based drama, inspired by true stories, highlights the struggles of abused and neglected children and their counselors who spend time with them at camp.
The first 10 minutes and last shots will feature scenes filmed entirely in town.
Local writer and director Jacob Roebuck and his wife spent time volunteering at such camps — Royal Family Kids camps — in the Los Angeles area. The experiences inspired Roebuck to write the script, folding several stories from many camps the couple visited.
“It was such a special experience we thought we should turn it into a film,” Roebuck said.
Roebuck hopes the result will entertain and inspire audiences with its uplifting interactions, mostly with main characters camp counselor Ken (Michael Mattera) and troubled 10-year-old Eli (Miles Elliot of “The Mentalist”).
Ken, an investment advisor, volunteers to go to camp to impress a client, but ultimately finds his struggle to help the scared, enraged and recently displaced Eli struggle through his childhood fraught dealing with a recently overdosed mother and an abusive father.
“It is our hope this film will inspire people to open their hearts to forgotten children who need adults in their lives,” Roebuck said. Roebuck likens the flick he wrote to the mainstream hit “The Blind Side.”
Ken’s and Eli’s “fish-out-of-water” efforts are interwoven with the help of stunning camp director Tammie (Grace Johnston, “Beaches”) and tough but kind-hearted veteran Samuel (Asante Jones, “Parenthood”).
Eli’s fears — as small as jumping into a pool, and as overpowering as standing up to his abusive father, who unexpectedly visits — are stripped away as Ken and Eli begin to develop their friendship. Ken’s outlook on life dramatically changes as Eli’s hope for life returns during the 1-hour, 50-minute movie.
“Camp” is Roebuck’s second film production. His first, a romantic comedy titled “Coyote County Loser,” won several awards at independent film festivals. He hopes Roebuck Media’s latest movie will be the first of many to be shot in Roswell and southern New Mexico.
“There were enough resources to shoot films and not a lot of overhead,” Roebuck said. “We shot in New Mexico because it was a good place to focus in on filmmaking.”
Roebuck Media will donate 40 percent of the revenue from all showings in Los Angeles to the local Royal Family Kids camp and 10 percent to the national office to start new camps across the nation. Royal Family Kids camp helps abused and neglected kids ages 9 to 12.
The cast also includes Meredith Thomas (Nip/Tuck), Casey Leet, Janet Wood (“Law & Order: LA”), Elissa Kapneck (“Marley & Me”), Michael Otis (“The Young and the Restless”), Michael Kenyon, Josh Berry (“Crash”), and Betsy Roth (“The Trivial Pursuits of Arthur Banks”).
Shooting in Roswell, Roebuck said he found a “deep appreciation for the amount of people who helped make the project,” including many who donated homes for out-of-town actors to stay while in production and food crews.
Roswell crew members included: Donovan Fulkerson, associate producer; Kristin Wolven, first assistant camerawoman; production assistants Kevin Summers, D’Shan Berry and Zane Rader; wardrobe by Anjelica Apodoca, key hair and makeup by Tarra Morgan; and Laura Roebuck and Polly Hartman, who provided craft services and catering.
Roebuck said he expects the movie, which will open in 100 cities nationwide, to bring in $500,000 to $1 million at the box office.
“That will be very good for us,” he said.
“Camp” runs March 1-7 at the Roswell Galaxy 8. Call 623-1010 for movie times. The movie is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some violence, a crude gesture and brief language.