South Sound filmmakers head to Hollywood

By Nikki McCoy on January 8, 2013


"Exploring Extreme Christianity Lands Two Locals a Spot in Hollywood."

Normally, it seems the opposite behavior is what draws headlines and brings people to one of the world's most notorious sin cities.

But, Hollywood is also know as a land of opportunity, and two locals - writer/director Stephen Riehl of Olympia and composer/sound designer Shawn Kelly of Tacoma - will be presenting their newest film, Upon This Rock, at Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood, Calif. for the NewFilmmakers LA showcase Tuesday, Jan. 15.

Upon This Rock is a nod to the duo's in-the-works feature length documentary The Stylite: a matter of faith, and is being shown in hopes to raise money for the continued traveling completing The Stylite will entail.

"The film as I envision it now will require four, two week trips to the Republic of Georgia," says Riehl.

The Republic of Georgia is where Upon This Rock was filmed and where The Stylite's main character resides.

The Stylite tells the story of Father Maxim, a monk in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, who hopes to live atop a 140-foot rock outcrop near the remote village of Katskhi. If he realizes his dream he will be the first stylite there in 600 years.

"About five years ago while reading a book about the history of Christianity I came across stylite asceticism," says Riehl. "For some reason I liked the idea of these hermits in remote areas that tried to disconnect from the world, but their act of such extreme asceticism actually brought pilgrims and the world back to them."

This attraction got Riehl's gears cranking, and he and long-time friend Kelly got to work on the two documentaries.

"My proudest moment in Upon This Rock is probably the time-lapse shot we captured of the sunrise on the pillar," says Riehl, "For three days, Temo Bardzimashvili - our director of photography - and I perched on the cliffs overlooking the pillar for three or four hours trying to capture the perfect sunrise. The last day was absolutely clear and the receding shadow sharp as a razor. I really like the effect and Shawn was able to create the perfect soundscape for the image."

LINK: The Stylite Facebook