August 13, 2014 - An astronomer, an astronaut and a dirt road in Oxford Township.
Preparing to shoot a scene from "Infinite" are (from left) boom operator Chuck Amman, first assistant director Jeff Staebler and first assistant camera Sebastian Boada. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
What do they have in common?
They're all going to be part of a new independent film entitled "Infinite," a scene from which was shot last week along a stretch of Newman Rd., just south of W. Drahner Rd.
"I had heard Oxford was pretty comfortable dealing with films," said Producer Aaron Keteyian, who's working on the film with Director Ryan Stratton. "They've dealt with films before and they were pretty easy going about it."
A house in the Oxford Woods subdivision was used as the crew's base camp for the shoot.
"Infinite," a drama being made by ArkLight Pictures, follows the story of Elizabeth Law (played by Caitlin Collins, 26, of Chicago), an ambitious Princeton graduate student and aspiring astronomer who's turned to booze as a way to cope with the cut-throat competition and immense pressures in the scientific community.
"She becomes very overwhelmed and vulnerable for the first time in her life," said Keteyian, 19, of Royal Oak. "She becomes this very sketchy person. She doesn't really know who she is anymore."
A long day of classes ends with Elizabeth drunk, alone and scanning frequencies on her ham radio.
That's when she happens upon a frequency that puts her in contact with William Cross (played by Franco Pulice, 37, of Plymouth, Michigan), an idealistic astronaut who's thought to be dead, but in reality, is trapped in a space capsule orbiting the Earth.
"He's floated into an area where he's lost (radio contact) with NASA," Keteyian said. "NASA has just called off the search and they are presuming him dead."
Elizabeth agrees to stay on the line with him as they wait for help. During that time, they forge a personal bond and end up sharing their secrets, fears and doubts.
"It's about this relationship that forms between the two of them while they're waiting," Keteyian said.
That's one of two story lines in the film.
The other involves Elizabeth one year after meeting Cross over the radio. She's achieved some success, but then gets fired from her job, which is where Newman Rd. comes in.
"She basically just gets in her car and drives," Keteyian said.
Although the film's plot involves space, it's not a science fiction piece.
"It's a character study," Keteyian said. "It's a story about this woman who overcomes this rough spot in her life. It just happens to be set, partially, in space."
Keteyian and Stratton, 19, of West Bloomfield, developed the story together and Stratton wrote the screenplay.
The team formed ArkLight Pictures, an independent film production company, in 2009. The company's made two other movies – "Blood Angel" (2012) and "Smile" (2013).
When "Infinite" is complete, Keteyian and Stratton plan to submit it to various film festivals.
"We just started compiling a list," Keteyian said. "Our intention is to take it everywhere across the country, possibly out of the country. That's the plan right now."
Keteyian is currently studying cinema art + science producing at Columbia College Chicago, while Stratton has a double-major in screenwriting and music composition at Chapman University in California.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.