IF YOU GO
What: A free screening of “Here’s the Kicker,” written and starring Austintown native Ian Michaels
Where: Lemon Grove Café, 122 W. Federal St., Youngstown
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
110 W. Federal St., Youngstown
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Austintown native Ian Michaels will give a test screening of his movie “Here’s the Kicker” at the Lemon Grove on Saturday.
Michaels, a 1996 graduate of Fitch High School, wrote, produced and acts in the film. He has been showing it in various cities to gauge audience reaction. “We’re trying to determine who our audience is,” he said.
Those who attend the free Lemon Grove screening can fill out a survey about the film, and Michaels will be on hand to answer questions.
Michaels has been living in Los Angeles for nine years. He has worked as a writer’s assistant for “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and in the content division of “Big Brother” for CBS.
An aspiring actor, Michaels is also a writer who has sold several of his scripts, including “Creep Van,” which is in post-production.
“Here’s the Kicker” is about an out-of-work field-goal kicker who has to decide between his girlfriend and his dream of being a pro football player. “It’s a road-trip comedy,” said Michaels, calling from California. “They are going from Los Angeles to Victory, Texas, to open a beauty salon. He gets a call, an offer to get back into football. It’s a tough decision in terms of either her dreams in Texas or his in LA.”
The test screenings have elicited good responses, including, “a lot of laugh-out-louds,” said Michaels.
“Here’s the Kicker” is directed by Chris Harris (“Into the Arms of Strangers”) and is rated R for language and nudity. Michaels and Sarah Smick are the co-leads. The cast also includes Dan Lauria (“The Wonder Years”). Michaels is trying to get the film entered in several major film festivals. He has already submitted it to Sundance, Tribeca, Cannes and others.
Music from Youngstown-based rock band The Zou will be used in the film.
After graduating from Fitch, Michaels attended Youngs-town State for one year, then Loyola-Chicago before moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.
“I got into an acting school out here, where I was encouraged to start writing for films,” he said. “I didn’t want to admit it was a strong suit for me, but it seemed like it was.”
He has started a production company to make “Here’s the Kicker,” and is already planning a second film project.
“There’s a large part of me that is an actor, but I want to be a complete filmmaker,” he said. “My goal is to produce more films that I’ve written.”