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Wednesday, May 6, 2009 01:01 am

Indy film planned for Springfield

Auditions to be held this month

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Screenwriter and director Kimberly D. Conner.
KIMBERLY D. CONNER

Kimberly D. Conner isn’t a newcomer to the world of movies. She’s placed as a finalist in several film writing contests, including Los Angeles and Atlanta but the short film she’s planning to shoot in Springfield represents her directorial debut.

With This Life Ain’t Pretty, based on the real life of a woman who contracted HIV from her husband, Conner explores the issue of HIV/AIDS in hopes of addressing many commonly held misbeliefs about the diseases.

“There are a lot of people out there who are thinking it won’t happen to them, and with this film we want to show that is not correct,” says Conner, a Champaign native who’s lived in Springfield for five years. “It doesn’t matter what you look like, what kind of car you drive, where you live, how much money you have in your bank account — none of that matters.”

This Life Ain’t Pretty opens with the funeral of main character Brittney Nicole Lawrence, a 28-year-old mother of one, then goes back to take us through Lawrence’s rocky marriage and eventual separation from her cheating husband Darrell Stephens, from whom she contracts HIV.

Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, Conner characterizes the film as socially conscious and uplifting.

“I’m gonna put some positive images out there. I think we see enough negative images out there,” she says, referring to the sometimes degrading portrayal of African Americans in feature films.

Total runtime for the film, for which Conner also wrote the screenplay, will be about 25 minutes and will be shot at several locations around the capital city, including a church and a hospital.

Despite the small scale of the $10,000 production, Conner has announced a casting call for 250 extras as well as actors in their 20s and 30s to play Brittney’s friends and relatives.

In addition to the heroine and her estranged husband, actors are needed for Brittney’s mother, grandmother, aunt and young son, as well as four female friends, three male associates, a neighborhood preacher, two “Men in Black” characters, a cabbie, a receptionist, and a husky male nursing home attendant with a heart of gold.

Her company, Predestined Arts & Entertainment Co., will hold auditions on Saturday, May 23, and Saturday, May 30, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 1205 South Grand Ave. East, Suite B. To schedule an audition call 621-7037 or e-mail Conner at kim@predestinedartsandentertainment.com and provide a head shot and bio if you have one. Shooting is expected to take place over three Saturdays in July.

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