MOVIE FILMED IN DOWNTOWN THREE RIVERS, CONSTANTINE IN 2018
Three Rivers Commercial-News | Robert Tomlinson, Staff Writer
THREE RIVERS — As Van Morrison so eloquently put it in 1970, “It’s a marvelous night for a moondance.”
For Constantine native Matt Whitney, writer and director of the musical comedy film “Moondance,” this Friday and Saturday will be some marvelous nights for his film, which will be publicly premiered for the first time at the Riviera Theatre in Three Rivers.
“I used to go to the Riviera and see movies as a little kid, back before they were the Riviera now, with the bar and everything, but when they were just a movie theatre. I remember being 4 or 5 years old and going in there to see movies, and now I have a movie showing there,” Whitney said. “It’s surreal.”
The movie will be shown on a limited run at the Riviera Friday, March 13 at 8:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 14 at 3:30 and 8:30 p.m. Tickets* are $7 for adults and $6 for students, seniors and children, and can be purchased on the Riviera Theatre’s website. The film is not officially rated, but the studio has said it should be treated as a PG-13 rating for some language.
Moondance is a musical film that follows the story of a rogue director that turns a run-of-the-mill Hollywood love story into a big band musical with the help of his crew and the out of the loop actors. Whitney said the premise of the film is “if you made a movie about a group of people making a movie.”
“It’s kind of a film within a film, but a lot different. It’s pretty much the behind -the-scenes of [the movie] as they run around making it, and that movie is a musical,” Whitney said. “It allows for a lot of funny interactions between the cast and [crew]. You kind of get to see a behind-the-curtain look at how movies are made, too.”
The movie is notable locally for having been filmed in multiple locales in southwest Michigan and norther Indiana, including downtown Three Rivers, where filming of a musical sequence occurred on Main Street for two days back in September of 2018. Whitney said it was a great experience to film part of the movie in Three Rivers.
“It was cool. This was the first time, when we shot there, I thought, “This is like a real movie. We closed a main street down for six hours,” Whitney said. “We had people from the city with giant barricades closing this down, and 50 people showed up to be extras, and it was a big deal that day. It was a huge milestone, and so coming back here is really cool.”
Filming on the movie also occurred in Constantine and Kalamazoo, as well as South Bend, Goshen and Angola in Indiana. Whitney said audiences will enjoy seeing those familiar places inside and outside of Three Rivers while they’re watching the movie.
“They’ll recognize all these location they’ve been to, restaurants they’ve been to or downtown they’ve seen,” Whitney said. “It’s cool to see a movie and be like, ‘I know tat place, I’ve been there, I know the person that owns that.’ I think it’ll be neat for people to see a local movie that has a local landmarks and local people.”
A private cast and crew premiere of the movie happened in May of 2019 at the Riviera, and Friday will be the first time the general public will see the movie. Whitney said the reception so far, from those who have seen it outside of the cast and crew for feedback, has been positive.
“What’s been interesting and been a cool, consistent piece of feedback is it’s a musical for people who don’t like musicals. Which is great, because I love musicals, but I know a lot of people don’t. It’s not like a typical big Broadway musical,” Whitney said. “Everyone seems to have enjoyed it. It’s not some highly-intellectual drama, it’s a fun movie. It’s a musical, you’re supposed to have a good time watching it, and so far, everyone that’s seen it has had a good time.”
Whitney said the crew originally wanted to send the movie to different film festivals, but he said once 20 theatres got on board with showing it, they decided against it.
“It’s kind of one or the other thing. Festivals don’t like screening movies that have been in theatres, and if you try to focus on festivals, by the time you’re done, it’s hard to get into theatres because it’s been so long since it came out,” Whitney said. “Festivals are awesome, but with this one we had this opportunity that a lot of independent films don’t get, to be in theatres.”
Overall, Whitney said he’s looking forward to having the movie premiere.
“It should be cool, and I’m excited for people to come out and see it,” Whitney said. “How often do you get to see a movie in the theatre it was filmed in front of?”
*Please note this was a misprint and tickets are $7 when purchased online