Movie producer Naveen Chathappuram wants to solidify Chicago as a movie-making locale.
At the same time, “Ca$h,” Chathappuram’s first major motion picture shot in Chicago intended for wide distribution, is putting the producer’s company, Immortal Thoughts Productions, on the map.
Chathappuram, who was raised in Downers Grove and attended Columbia College, always thought Chicago, with all its dichotomies, was overlooked by Hollywood. He opened the Immortal Thoughts office in Northfield and set his sights on producing movies in the Windy City.
“My aim was to shoot in Chicago. It just went with my vision,” he said. “To me, L.A. has gotten old, it’s gotten boring to me.”
“Ca$h” addresses the old dilemma of greed vs. morality, but it’s not stale. The issue is being scrutinized today more than ever.
In this psychological thriller, some good fortune lands in the lap of a Chicago couple down on their luck, Sam and Leslie Phelan, played by Chris Hemsworth and Victoria Profeta. But, when the sinister Pyke Kubic, played by Sean Bean, shows up, the couple’s fortune could be more trouble than it’s worth. The couple is dragged by Kubic through one hair-raising situation after another on the streets of Chicago.
Immortal Thoughts has produced a couple films called “Beyond the Sun,” a low budget effort in 2001, and “Nothing But Life,” featuring some Bollywood stars and released in India in 2005. “Ca$h” was written and directed by Stephen Milburn Anderson, who also directed “South Central,” “Hearts of Stone,” and “Dead Men Can’t Dance” among other films.
Anderson wrote the script, originally called, “The Root of All Evil,” in 1993, because he was fascinated by the influence of money at that time. Fast forward 16 years, when swindlers like Bernie Madoff, sub prime mortgages and exorbitant bonuses for executives of failing companies dominate the news. Money still seems to be the root of all evil.
“It’s come to be incredibly apropos,” Anderson said of the story.
“I can’t believe how relevant it is to these times,” Chathappuram added.
Chathappuram said if a script doesn’t grab him in the first five pages, he sets it down.
But, “Ca$h” was different.
“I read the whole script,” he said. “It was very captivating.”
Anderson originally set the film in Los Angeles, but changed his mind after visiting Chicago at the request of Chathappuram, who said Chicago was the better city in which to shoot. He agreed that Chicago, a city he’d never been to before, was better suited to “Ca$h.”
He said the Phelans are more Chicagoan than they are Angelino — they’re rooted, hard-working and down to earth.
“In L.A., people are there for a job,” he said. “But in Chicago, people are there because they like to live there.”
Anderson, who lives in New Mexico, said another of his scripts, which is about to start shooting, is also set in the Windy City.
“I fell in love with Chicago,” he said.
Producer and director are confident “Ca$h” will get picked up because it addresses many of today’s financial concerns such as foreclosure, debt, unemployment and desperation in an action-packed way. They’re anticipating a fall release in wide distribution.
Media 8 Entertainment, which produced and distributed the Academy Award-winning “Monster,” is serving as the sales agent for “Ca$h,” which was shown at the March du Film at the Cannes Film Festival last week with hopes of finding a distributor for the film.
Plus, the rising star power of Hemsworth, who appears at the beginning of the new “Star Trek” blockbuster as James T. Kirk’s father and the always threatening Bean, whose works include “Lord of the Rings,” “National Treasure” and “The Hitcher,” are strong selling points.
“That,” Chathappuram said, “is going to add to the glow of our film.”