If for even a moment someone forgets how awesome the Mitten is, the director of The Sleeping Bear, Richard Cameron White does not let that feeling last long. The film is an epic drama about a twenty-something guy who finds himself in a love triangle. He travels from Detroit to a family cottage in Northern Michigan with his only friend, a pastor’s daughter, and her family. White and his best friend, Ryan Bradley (lead actor), cowrote and coproduced The Sleeping Bear on a micro budget fueled by Northern Michigan hospitality. White explains, “Northern Michigan came together to help make the movie.” Bradley and White spent every last penny on the end goal of learning how to make a movie—the reason they went to film school in the first place.
Northern Michigan was welcoming and excited about all of the work White, Bradley, and their crew were doing. “Northern Michigan is very inspiring in and of itself,” explains White. He and Bradley started writing the film in 2007 while just starting film school in Florida, and by June of 2010 White was in Northern Michigan getting to work. There were less than 40 days of preproduction, 24 days of production, and four months of editing/post-production. They made it happen with self-financing through RCW Pictures (White’s company).
“No single day of production went the way it was supposed to,” White laughs. The film was on such a low budget that the crew was completely at the mercy of Northern Michigan weather conditions, sunlight exposure, and the landscape. These things are good and bad in their own right as all Mitten lovers know. When writing the film, White and Bradley knew they were working with “a million and one beautiful locations,” but the reality was 16-hour days and White even admits he “lost at least 15 pounds because of stress.”
There was a huge amount of work involved working with Northern Michigan terrain; securing a cast and crew willing to donate their time, and finding usable locations—among many other aspects. Smiling, White says, “We knew it was going to be hard, and it was.” However difficult, White, Bradley, and supporters created The Sleeping Bear featuring the beauty of Northern Michigan. Of the region, White says, “It invokes a different part of your brain.” Undoubtedly, the film will feature what an awesome place and community is situated in the Mitten.
On December 29th, 2011, The Sleeping Bear will be screening with a Red Carpet Affair and After Party. This event is a sincere thank you from White and Bradley (and the many others involved) to the Northern Michigan community. White is looking forward to experiencing the film on a big screen and being able to share it with all of the awesome people involved. White explains, “It’s going to be an unique experience.” Proceeds will be going to local charities, some lingering costs associated with production, and submissions to film festivals. They want people to come out and get the Red Carpet treatment, see The Sleeping Bear, and go to ECCO afterwards for a great party.
White has already submitted The Sleeping Bear to a dozen film festivals. He laughs, “It’s like sending your baby to summer camp.” He explains that he is apprehensive about the response, or curious if there will be any response at all. The goal of a film festival is to be noticed by distributors, and for White, this is not a priority. He says, “I just wanted to create a film.” As humble as ever, it’s obvious that a lot of energy, passion, and excitement went into creating The Sleeping Bear.