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‘Gemini’ lands in Columbiana for premiere

“Gemini” will have its premiere Saturday at the Columbiana Cultural Collective.

The science fiction/action/comedy film was shot in Columbiana and Leetonia with a predominantly local cast and crew.

Writer-director Nicole Ice grew up in Aurora but moved to Columbiana about a decade ago. There she started IceStrongo Productions, but she also was the mother of two young children, which didn’t leave too much time for independent filmmaking.

“In the past couple years, I’ve reimmersed myself in film, and it’s a lot more fun now,” Ice said.

She previously worked as a producer on “Angel Mine,” which was directed by Josh Menning of Leetonia and based on a novel by Jimmy Taaffe of Struthers.

“When we finished that film, Jimmy said, ‘Hey, I’ve got this other book too,” Ice said.

“Gemini” is the story of twin sisters from the planet of Gliese who were separated at birth. Colly (played by Angela Cole, who also starred in “Angel Mine”) plots a trip to reunite with her sister Josi (Cara DeChurch), who was abandoned on Earth. They find each other, but they’re faced with a dangerous challenge in order to stay together.

Ice liked the book, but she also knew changes would need to be made to make it affordable.

“The book takes place on a different planet, Gliese,” she said. “I called Jimmy (who produced the movie) and said unless the budget is $300,000 more, there’s no way we can make this how it’s written. Instead of most of it being on Gliese, we reversed it so most of it is on Earth. Earth is a little more accessible to us.”

Other changes came about during the casting process. One of the roles they worried about filling was for a grand counselor and war hero on Gliese. Tammy Tsai, who appeared in Menning’s film “Angelic Christmas,” came in to read for a small role, but during auditions Taaffe liked her so much that he suggested changing the counselor from a man to a woman.

While most of the film was cast through those local auditions, Ice brought in Scott Schwartz, best known for playing Flick in “A Christmas Story” to play Fietch, an orb dealer who helps Colly get to Earth.

“We were friends before this,” Ice said. “I told him, ‘I’ve got this film I’m working on. I don’t know if you’re into doing an independent film right now,’ but it worked out really great. He spent about five days here and really enjoyed Columbiana. He lives in L.A., so it was a nice change of pace for him.

She also hired Kevin Kent (who’s worked on such films as “Fast X” and “Bumblebee” and the TV series “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” and “The Old Man”) to serve as stunt coordinator.

“I’ve been very close friends with his brother for about 15 years,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to work with Kevin, but I never had a film where we needed someone to help us with stunts and fight choreography. I reached out to him and he said, ‘Let’s go.’ He was really excited to do it.”

The movie will be shown at 8 p.m. Saturday, but festivities will start around 5 p.m. with red carpet arrivals by the cast and crew and live music by Rat Bath and Varsity Golf. Both bands’ music is featured in the film.

Ice discovered the Milwaukee-based Rat Bath on Tik Tok, and she described the band as country/rock/opera/punk played by five transgender/queer people.

“I loved their stuff so much,” she said. “I reached out not knowing if they would get back to me and said I’d love to use some of your music, and they couldn’t have been nicer. They’re on tour right now and canceled one of their tour stops so they could come here.”

The filmmakers have been scrambling to finish the film in time for the premiere. Ice said Tuesday she expected it to be done that day.

Following the premiere, Ice plans to submit “Gemini” to film festivals and has been in touch with two distributors in hopes of getting the movie seen, if not on Gliese, at least in other cities on this planet.

If you go …

WHAT: Premiere of the movie “Gemini”

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday with the band Rat Bath performing at 6:15 p.m.,

WHERE: Columbiana Cultural Collective, 5 N. Main St., Columbiana

HOW MUCH: Tickets are $15 and are available online at www.columbianaculturalcollective.com.

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