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Young Indie Filmmaker Builds Blue-Collar Drama in 'Steel City'

7 Apr, 2008 By: Billy Gil

To hear young filmmaker Brian Jun tell it, his success with bringing his first feature film to screen, Steel City (see review, page 26), is based a lot on luck. However, Jun's modesty belies the hard work that went into Steel City, which is due on DVD May 6 (prebook April 8) from Peace Arch Entertainment.

Jun's entree into professional filmmaking came when he was invited into Fox Searchlab's young talent program after a screening of his short film For Jimmy Brown in 2001. According to Jun, participants in the program were given money to make a short film to show to a panel of executives, who would then select a winner to fund for a feature film.

Unfortunately, Jun said, the program never really went through with its stated promise. After a slump, Jun said he decided he would write and direct a film that would take little money to make.

“Once I made the decision I was going to make a film come hell or high water, people started latching on,” Jun said. “The script got more attention than I thought it ever would. From my experience, you have to create your own opportunity.”

That kind of tough mentality is reflected in Jun's script, about a young man (Tom Guiry) in a solemn Midwestern town who must grow up quickly and take care of himself after his father is incarcerated.

Steel City attracted such talent as John Heard (who starred in Jun's short film for Fox Searchlab, Researching Raymond Burke), Laurie Metcalf, Clayne Crawford, Raymond J. Barry and America Ferrera, who has shot to fame with “Ugly Betty” and films such as Real Women Have Curves and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

The film is filled with gray, meditative images of Jun's native steel-working town of Alton, Ill., where the film was shot. Jun said he wanted the film to reflect any number of similar, blue-collar towns, although he culled from his own upbringing in Alton and nearby Collinsville, Ill., for the script.

“I kind of drew upon my experience working at all these blue-collar jobs growing up,” he said. “That was a lifestyle I could've ended up in had I not explored the arts. I guess I was projecting myself as someone I could have been had I not moved away.”

The DVD includes the short For Jimmy Brown as well as deleted scenes, a photo gallery and a commentary with Jun, Heard, Barry, Crawford and cinematographer Ryan Samul.

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