Community Filmmaking

A movie begins with one person. A writer alone in a room. The spark of an idea. A notebook, a laptop. Finally, a script.

I’m used to going it alone a lot of the time. I’ve always been a lone wolf type. As a little girl I liked drawing by myself, quietly. Now I write for hours alone, a cup of coffee by my side at a café or diner. Or painting to “Prairie Home Companion” on a Saturday evening.

Rebecca Livengood

Don’t get me wrong – I love people. I’ve loved acting in plays, collaborating on a show with a group of artists. Getting abnormally close with people while making art is, in all honesty, my thing. That’s what happens with theatre. You’re onstage crying your eyes out with your new friend, your fellow actor, or waiting in the wings doing little dances together.

But being a director is something completely different from writing or acting. And, boy, am I learning that as I wind up to direct my first feature film in less than a month in Door County.

June Falling Down is my dream project, about to come to life in May. A full-length movie that I wrote and will also act in. It’s about a young woman, named June who comes home to Wisconsin for her best friend’s wedding and the one-year anniversary of her father’s death.

I can’t begin to explain how humbling it has been to watch this project grow. From a short story in a college fiction class to an endless Word document crammed with notes and pieces of dialogue to a fully realized script. Then it became “What if we actually could make this movie ourselves?” Casual conversations became “Well, why not?” We speculated and threw out ideas…and soon it became, “We have to make this movie.” We told more and more people about it and got responses like, “You know, I’ve always wanted to act.”

We gathered a cast of Door County performers, including Nick Hoover, Claire Morkin, Justin Pahnturat, Joanna Becker, Evan Board, and Steven Koehler. We spoke to local businesses about filming – like Jacksonport Town Hall Bakery, Nelson’s Hardware, Northern Grill Pizza, and the AC Tap. We’ve received a huge response from people who want to be extras.

Suddenly “my” project becomes “ours.” In all honesty, it’s been overwhelming. It’s so much bigger than me now. June Falling Down is becoming a machine. I feel like the man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz, pulling levers and switches to keep this thing in motion.

But I’m not alone now. People have contacted me from all corners of Door County (and Wisconsin) to let me know they want to help out with the project. Friends and strangers alike have offered to help cook for our cast and crew. And of course, my family will be a part of it – especially since we’re filming at our family place in Baileys Harbor. We’re a homegrown movie.

I live in Los Angeles now. Well, just outside it in South Pasadena, where I’m writing to you tonight, in anticipation of our shoot in just several weeks. I could never in a million years make this movie here or anywhere nearby. Beyond the obvious lack of beauty, we could never afford it, nor could we afford the jaded attitude around filmmaking in this town.

And, as a first-time filmmaker and just as a Midwesterner and a lover of Door County, I know that community is everything.

On my bedroom wall right now I have an ever-evolving schedule of the film. We’re making arrangements with local bands to play the wedding reception in the movie! Every day in my email inbox I receive kind words from Door County friends and people I have yet to meet.

This movie is not just me, my script. June Falling Down is made up of a group of kindhearted people working together. This is community filmmaking.

If you would like to help out with June Falling Down, please contact me at [email protected]. And please consider donating to our Indiegogo Campaign (go to and search for “June Falling Down”). Every donation helps us make this movie!