Movie producer and actor Ted Trentman of Los Angeles told Central Junior High students to follow their dreams during a schoolwide assembly Monday.
"Don't underestimate the hopes and dreams you have in your heart right now, because they might come true," said Trentman, who attended Henry Raab and Central Junior High schools when he was a child.
Trentman's dream of coming back to his hometown of Belleville and filming a movie has become a reality. The seventh- and eighth-graders at Central got to see some raw footage of the movie "Belleville" Trentman is in town filming. He showed the students two short clips: one of the Belleville Downtown Square and another of him riding a bicycle on a rural road near Freeburg.
Central students hammered Trentman with questions about what life is like in L.A. including if he has any famous friends. Trentman, who also visited Henry Raab Monday, said actor Michael Keaton, who played Batman in the 1989 movie, lives in his building. Another student asked what his favorite movie was -- "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."
One student asked if "Belleville" was going to be on Netflix, an Internet streaming media provider. "Most of you will probably see this movie for free," Trentman said, which garnered a round of applause from the junior high schoolers.
Trentman, who goes by the stage name Ted Trent, is a co-star of the movie "Belleville" along with Tim O'Leary. Trentman is working with filmmaker Dan Ewald, co-writer and director.
Besides Trentman and O'Leary, all the other actors in "Belleville" live in the Belleville area. "We tried to find ways to include everyone who wrote us," Trentman said.
This summer Trentman and Edwald asked area residents to contact them if they were wanted to be in the movie. Trentman said approximately 500 people wrote them.
Trentman, 43, wanted to incorporate landmarks in Belleville and the surrounding area as well. "I want people to see their hometown and landmarks that are important to them," he said.
While in town, he's filmed at the Belleville Square, Bel-Air Bowl, the Lincoln Movie Theatre, all in Belleville, and The Bluegrass Shack in New Athens.
Trentman described "Belleville" as family-friendly, fantasy film about a farmer who lost his wife and remained reclusive until a mysterious stranger appears on his farm. Trentman plays Neila -- alien spelled backward -- who he described as a character similar to Forrest Gump. O'Leary plays the farmer Willie.
The movie is expected to be completed by Jan. 1. Trentman said all the principal photography is done, and the next step is editing.
He anticipates having a special weekend of screenings in conjunction with the City of Belleville Bicentennial Celebration. Trentman said he wants to have a red carpet premiere screening at the Lincoln Theatre.
He also plans to show the movie at independent film festivals. "I want this film to be seen," Trentman said. "I want everyone to learn about Belleville."
Before the schoolwide assembly, Trentman was interviewed by members of the Media Club at Central. Eighth-grader Rocoya Anglin conducted the interview. "I got nervous, but it was good," she said. "It was really cool."
The club's interview with Trentman recorded on an iPad will be shown to the school via Central News.
After growing up in Belleville as child, Trentman moved to O'Fallon and attended O'Fallon Township High School. He earned a degree in communication from Illinois State University.
Trentman encouraged students at Central to get a college degree and find a job that can support their passion. Trentman works as a real estate agent in order to fund his movie making. "I always felt I had to pay my bills and have fun in the movie business," he said. "I created a life where I pay for my own creative endeavors."
For more information about "Belleville," visit www.bellevillethemovie.com. "This is the first movie I've made in Belleville, but hopefully not the last," Trentman said.
Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or firstname.lastname@example.org.