Actor Kunal Sharma was handcuffed to the door of a bombed-out commuter train, sharing a frenzied exchange on camera with a fellow passenger played by Nicole Gale Anderson.
The crew took the scene over and over and over, but it didn’t look right. The director and the writer huddled. They spoke in low voices for several minutes before agreeing on a rewrite.
That little moment was one of thousands of revisions, major and minor, that reared up during the production of “Redline,” a 2013 film made almost entirely by student interns at John Paul the Great Catholic University in San Diego. Among those students was a quartet of Roseburg High School alums: brothers Kory and Kevin Kast, Andrew Leedom and Nate Sjogren.
The Kast brothers were also charged with filming a documentary about the movie’s production, from pre-production meetings to the wrap party. They vividly recall the scene involving the handcuffed actor.
“There were definitely moments like that where things got tense,” said Kory Kast.
John Paul the Great is an art and business school of about 200 students. Its mission is to “impact culture for Christ,” according to Kevin Kast. “Redline,” which opened Tuesday, is the brainchild of faculty members Robert Kirbyson and Dominic Iocca, who decided that working on a real Hollywood movie was the best preparation their film students could get while in college.
But to furnish that experience, the school had to provide its own Hollywood film.
John Paul the Great started a production company, Yellow Line Productions, which oversaw day-to-day filmmaking operations. About half the student body worked on what was to be a conventional action thriller.
By all appearances, “Redline” certainly is conventional: a straight-to-video B movie about the survivors of a blown-up train (the Hollywood “red” line). One of those emerging from the disaster is not who he or she seems. The film’s tagline, “Next Stop: Terror,” is about as clichéd as it gets. But Kory Kast said the film is deceptively deep. Several characters are forced to — and audiences are meant to — confront their own prejudices.
“This is the type of movie I would definitely see,” Kory Kast said. “It’s a thriller that really tries to challenge us.”
The film opened this week. It’s currently in Redbox stations across the country, and will soon be available on Amazon.com. It’s still being shopped around at film festivals and could yet be picked up for a theatrical run.
The script was written by John Paul student Tara Stone, with oversight by Kirbyson, who shares the writing credit with her on the Internet Movie Database and who served as the film’s director.
The cast of “Redline” is made up of midlevel Hollywood character actors. Many have done bit work on nightly network dramas and the Disney Channel. The movie’s biggest stars are arguably Nicole Gale Anderson of “Hannah Montana” and John Billingsly, who played Dr. Phlox on nearly 100 episodes of “Star Trek: Enterprise.”
Several other film industry professionals were involved, including the sound designer, the hair and makeup specialists and the stunt coordinator. But the production used only as many real pros as it absolutely needed, Kevin Kast said. And on the film’s end credits, no distinction is made between the crew’s pros and those who juggled boom mics with term papers.
By using so much unpaid labor Yellow Line was able to get the most out of the film’s $150,000 budget. And the use of so many volunteers led to a collegial and ego-free vibe on the set, Kevin Kast said.
“I heard several actors say it was the best set they ever worked on,” he said. “It was a movie set where everyone was respectful and joyful.”
The four Roseburg grads were friends who made films together in high school. They took cinema studies courses with then-RHS instructor Mary McClintock and learned to use the editing software Final Cut Pro, which the Kast brothers said came in handy in college.
Leedom and Sjogren graduated Roseburg in 2007 with Kevin Kast, but stayed behind the first year after high school and attended Umpqua Community College. Kevin Kast was the first of the Roseburg four to attend John Paul the Great. He said he spent about a year trying to persuade the others to attend.
Kevin Kast and Leedom worked as set designers on “Redline,” ensuring that it looked like a real train had crashed on the school’s sound stage. They arranged dirt and blown-out glass so it was consistent between scenes, and made sure the cuts on actor’s faces stayed in the same places.
Sjogren designed titles and opening text for the film. He lives in Escondido, Calif., was recently married and works as a motion graphics artist at Drive Studio, which has done recent logo work for Fox Sports Networks.
Kory Kast, whose IMDb credit is “second assistant camera operator,” worked as a camera operator on “Redline” and on his brother’s documentary about the film’s production. He lives in Eugene and studies film at the University of Oregon.
Leedom lives in San Diego and works in video production involving local sports teams.
Kevin Kast recently moved to Los Angeles, where he is looking for work in the movie business.
The 100-plus hours of footage he and his brother gathered during the production of “Redline” is with editors at Yellow Line Production who are cobbling it into a full-length film.
On a set where everyone was more or less a production assistant and job descriptions were fluid, Kevin Kast said he got to work tasks he’d never done before. He even served as a body double for actor Joseph Williamson.
“There’s a moment where he throws this bag and you can’t see his face,” Kast said. “And that’s me.”
• You can reach reporter Garrett Andrews at 541-957-4218 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.