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by Rich Tupica

in Downtown Lansing, one of McCallum’s hangouts, the local 33-year-old director/actor/ producer spoke ardently to REVUE, seeming fully inspired and ready to tackle his fourth locally produced feature film Buffalo, which will star his father William C. McCallum in the leading roll. McCallum must be a regular. A wall at


Decker’s Coffee is plastered with old newspa- per clippings – snippets of press he received for feature films he’s directed and starred in: Fairview St., Handlebar and Lucky. His debut black-and-white crime drama

Fairview St. premiered to a sellout crowd in January 2009 at Lansing’s Celebration! Cinema. It went on to receive critical acclaim at 27 film festivals across the globe. “The three features we’ve played at

Celebration! have had tremendous turn outs from the local community,” McCallum said. “Fairview St., in the week it played, out sold Gran Torino and Valkyrie. Tom Cruise and Clint Eastwood kicked my ass all over the world, but in Lansing, Mich. we out sold them. That’s because it’s right here, it was made here – I’m from here.” Aside from features, McCallum keeps

busy picking up acting jobs, shooting and act- ing in short films. One of those shorts, Waiter from Hell, will be featured in the 2011 East Lansing Film Festival’s “HomeGrown Shorts” block of films. And when he’s not creating films,

McCallum earns a paycheck waiting tables. Still he manages to produce feature films. “I work a day job, I pour all of my money

into it,” he said. “A lot of favors are called in. We do two fundraisers for each feature, that helps pay for things along the way. It’s a group effort. I’m constantly broke all of the time, but I’m happy.” What keeps him going is his passion for

telling a distinctive story, and working with the tight-knit team he’s assembled at Rebel Pictures, which includes Marianne J. Bacon (producer/production supervisor), Stuart Poltrock (sound editor), Jonathan Worful (editor/producer) and UnSafe Film Office owner A.E. Griffin (director of photography/ producer).


Local film maker Michael McCallum, best known for his debut feature Fairview St., is working on his upcoming film Buffalo. PHOTO: JENA McSHANE

FTER MORE THAN A DE- CADE OF MAKING INDIE films, Rebel Pictures owner Michael McCallum doesn’t seem to be jaded in the slightest. Sitting outside Decker’s Coffee

REBEL WITH A CAMERA “I wanted to name it something ‘Pictures’

– that’s kind of a retro thing,” McCallum ex- plained about his company, which he founded in 1999. “A lot of directors and film makers used to refer to their movies as ‘pictures.’ I didn’t want to use the word ‘productions.’ Rebel, for me, is everyone from Jesus to James Dean. It’s everybody that’s doing what they want to do and going against the grain.” And his idols are not hot mainstream

directors. He namedrops classic directors Elia Kazan, Orson Welles and Jules Dassin as a few of his favorites. McCallum said his films often pay homage to those old styles, and frequently include a hefty amount of cigarette puffing. “I’m an old movie buff. I want it, tone-

wise, to be modern, but to have a little tip of the cap to noir from the mid ‘40s into the ‘50s,” he said. “A lot of those characters smoked a lot. If you watch The Big Sleep, or Key Largo, there’s a lot of smoking in those. I

wanted to have little winks and nods to some of those films. “There are so many homages, especially in

Fairview St., that most people would never real- ize,” he added. “Whereas old movie buffs will like them and say, ‘Oh, I saw a bit of A Place in the Sun there, or I saw a bit of Detour there.” While he has a passion for noir, McCallum

said he’s careful not to lock himself into one category. “I don’t like to hang my hat on one style

or one genre – we don’t stick to one type of film. I do love telling stories about relation- ships though. I feel it’s a story that has no beginning, middle or end. The possibilities are endless.” His next film Buffalo, which still has a

couple years of work ahead of it, is a drama that tells of a cab driver recently diagnosed with a terminal disease. He then decides he’ll take a road trip to upstate New York to attend

net. n


his ex-wife’s funeral and reconnect with his estranged son. It’s currently in pre-production. As for what sets Rebel Pictures apart from

other film companies, McCallum said his crew is more about passion than cashing in. “We’re not doing gigs just to get paid. All

the projects we do are passion projects, things we want to spend time on,” he said. “A lot of companies just focus on trying to make money, and that’s fine, but that’s not what Rebel is all about. Money is nice, but we’re really focused on telling the stories we want to tell – unique stories that aren’t things anybody else wants to do or say.” For more information, visit: rebelpictures.



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