Dan Steadman has found his niche, teaching acting workshops in Belleville and giving students a chance to star in his Circa87 independent films.
But the Missouri-based writer and director is exploring new territory with his latest film, “The Shoe.” The story is innovative; the filming is experimental; the locations are varied; and the release is unconventional.
A regular thrift-store shopper, Steadman often wonders about the history of items — where they were first purchased, how many people owned them and what happened while they were getting used.
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“The Shoe” revolves around a pair of silver shoes that a woman finds at the Goodwill outlet store in Bridgeton, Missouri.
“We go back eight decades and tell the stories of all the people who have owned the shoes, from 2017 to the 1930s, when they were made,” Steadman said.
Each decade features different characters. There are about 75 actors with speaking parts and another 100 extras from St. Louis and the metro-east.
Filming of “The Shoe” lasted nine months, compared to the usual two weeks for Steadman’s films. He shot scenes from each decade in the style of that decade.
“The 1980s look like VHS,” he said. “The 1970s look like Super 8, and the 1960s look kind of artificial, like a Rock Hudson and Doris Day film.”
Some scenes for “The Shoe” were filmed at St. Paul United Church of Christ in Belleville, where Steadman teaches his acting workshops.
Other locations included Forest Park in St. Louis; a train at St. Louis Union Station; Durso Hills Winery and Bistro in Marquand, Missouri; a Collinsville home; a Sparta bed and breakfast; Southwestern Illinois College; and Main Street in Belleville.
Steadman shot 1940s scenes at the Midcentury Modern Architecture Museum in Belleville, designed in 1952 by Charles King as a home for Terry and Thelma Blazier. The setting is like a golden-age-of-Hollywood party.
“The scenes were a fast-paced farce, inspired by Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, which was a very different genre for us,” Steadman said.
Instead of inviting the public to a big premiere at a local theater, Steadman is hosting 16 premieres for groups of 40 at the Midcentury Modern Architecture Museum, 8501 W. Main St.
“We’re calling it a holiday social,” he said. “We’ll be serving appetizers that correspond with the movie. Sometimes (audiences will) eat what the actors are eating. Sometimes the food will just generally tie in with what’s happening.”
The 1980s look like VHS. The 1970s look like Super 8, and the 1960s look kind of artificial, like a Rock Hudson and Doris Day film.
Dan Steadman on filming styles for “The Shoe”
“The Shoe” runs 78 minutes. It will be shown four times a day on Dec. 9, 10, 16 and 17. Admission is $12. A third of the proceeds will go to the museum, which is being renovated.
Tickets can be purchased at the door, but some shows already are sold out, so people are encouraged to make advance reservations at www.circa87.com.
Steadman is a Michigan native who first came to the St. Louis area four years ago to direct the independent film “Belleville.” He ended up moving from Los Angeles to Farmington, Missouri.
His company is called Circa87. It’s a one-man operation, except Steadman hires a small crew for filming, including a cinematographer from L.A. and a sound man from St. Louis.
Acting workshops are available at St. Paul United Church of Christ and Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St. Louis. For more information, visit the website or Facebook page.
“The Shoe” premieres
- Where: Midcentury Modern Architecture Museum, 8501 W. Main St. in Belleville
- When: 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 9, 10, 16 and 17
- Admission: $12
- Ages: 16 and older
- Other: 1940s or ’50s style dress encouraged but not required; appetizers, red carpet and Q&A with writer-director
- Information: Visit Circa87 website at www.circa87.com or Facebook page