KING’S HIGHWAY is a new romantic comedy from

GEOFF STULTS (October Road, 7th Heaven, The Break Up) stars as Todd King, a young man whose life isn’t going quite the way he hoped it would. He hates his job, his girlfriend, and who he’s become. Just when things couldn’t get worse, Todd learns that his one true love, Mary (LORI HEURING, 8MM 2, The In Crowd, Mulholland Dr.), is getting married in two days. With little money, the help of a crazed barfly (JOHN DiRESTA, Miss Congeniality), and the boot mobile, Todd sets off on a journey that takes him across California, through his past and into his heart as he travels down El Camino Real. . . the King’s Highway.

The film also stars RYAN ALOSIO (The Hi-Line ), HOLLY FIELDS (Wishmaster 2 ) and CHARLIE FINN (Super Troopers, The Dukes of Hazzard ) . Featuring the music of MOTHER SUPERIOR, ANDREW BIRD, ELLIS PAUL and EDIE CAREY.

KING’S HIGHWAY is Executive Produced by TONY GARDNER; Edited & Photographed by VILLAMOR M. CRUZ; Produced by
RYAN JOHNSON; and Written & Directed by SCOTT MALCHUS.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

About "King's Highway"

In 2000, writer/director Scott Malchus submitted a screenplay entitled Southern Cross to the first Project Greenlight contest. Chosen as one of the top 250 out of 7000 entries, Malchus’ script made it through the first round. This achievement gave him the confidence to send the script to his friend, independent producer Ryan Johnson. The minute he finished reading the screenplay, Johnson picked up the phone. “People need to see this movie”, he said. “Even if we have to go out and get a camera ourselves, we have to make this movie”. And that’s exactly what they did.

Johnson and Malchus scrounged together what resources they had and as many favors as possible. Due to their full-time “day” jobs, they would be limited to just 9 days to shoot the majority of the movie, a daunting task for any production, much less a travelogue movie involving driving shots, Vespa scooters and a bizarre vehicle called the Bootmobile. With a budget of only $5000, filming began in May of 2001 on the renamed project, King’s Highway.

“We had a marvelous crew… of about six. Everyone did multiple jobs,” says Malchus. “More importantly, we had a cast that believed in the script, who worked for deferred pay and were brave enough to trust a novice director.

That cast included Lori Heuring, an actress with big budget (Mulholland Drive) and low budget (Gas Station Jesus) experience; veteran character actor John DiResta, who has acted alongside Sandra Bullock (Miss Congeniality) and Matthew McConaughey (How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days); and the talented Ryan Alosio (DarkWolf). For the crucial lead role of Todd King, the filmmakers chose then newcomer Geoff Stults, who had auditioned for a minor role in the movie. As soon as Malchus saw him perform, “I knew Geoff was our guy.”

Stults threw himself into the performance, jumping on trolley cars, diving off of runaway scooters; he even got mugged during a weekend shoot in San Francisco (but that’s another story). Stults became one of the core creative forces behind the film. Also contributing greatly to the finished film was Director of Photography and Editor, Villamor Cruz.

Malchus and Cruz worked extensively during preproduction, storyboarding and discussing how to make King’s Highway look like they had a bigger budget. “We shot on Mini Dv, which was very liberating,” says Cruz. “The format allowed us to shoot multiple takes without worrying about film stock. Yet, we still took our time lighting each scene and gave each sequence its own feel and look.

By October 2001, after a couple of pickup weekends, filming of King’s Highway was finally complete. The filmmakers had worked around busy actor schedules, equipment failures and the obstacle of everyone holding down 40 hour-a-week
jobs… typical setbacks for any independent film production. But nothing could have prepared them for what happened next.

In November of 2001, Malchus and his wife, Julie, welcomed their second child, Jacob, into the world. Celebration gave way to concern as their son struggled to gain weight in the first month of his life. Just before Christmas, Jacob Malchus was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, the genetic disease that attacks its victim’s lungs and digestive organs, shortening their lifespan. This devastating news shook the production just as the editing stage was to begin. Suddenly, making a movie wasn’t so important.

“Take care of your family,” Johnson told Malchus. “The movie will wait.”

“That was important to hear,” Malchus says. “When you’re involved with a production this small, the people you work with become a surrogate family. As difficult as it was for me and my family, I know that Ryan and Villamor were really shook up.”

While Malchus attended to his family’s needs, Cruz began piecing together the movie based on the storyboards and his discussions with the director. Five months elapsed before the two men would begin editing together what would become the final film.

“I owe so much to Villamor,” says Malchus. “A director in his own right, he gave me the freedom I needed to find my voice on set. Then, as my family faced a crisis, he took it upon himself to use the storyboards and continue working. Through his dedication, we had a rough cut to work with.”

2002 was spent editing the movie, mixing the sound, and compiling a song list of over 40 selections that would serve as the score to the movie. Finally, by March of 2003, King’s Highway was complete.

“It was a long road,” says Johnson. “In the two years since we began the movie so much has changed in everyone’s lives. But it was worth it. We have a great looking movie that is quirky, funny and truly heartfelt.”

With just 9 days to shoot and $5000, that the filmmakers completed a feature film and persevered despite all of the outside circumstances is a credit to them and their desire to create something personal and independent.

King’s Highway is a film that is ultimately about family and holding out hope,” Malchus says. “As a parent of a child with special needs, I know that these themes are important to get out there, especially in today’s troubled world. These are not just independent themes… they’re universal.”

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