Family means the world to Daniel Galeski Jr., which is evidenced by the film he is producing with his brother, Wyandotte police Detective .
The film, POOKERLAND, is named after a nickname Daniel created for his daughter, Randi Hutchison, who happens to be the female lead in the film. Another one of his daughters, Tori Galeski, also will star in the film.
In keeping with the family-affair theme, the Galeski brothers recently began production with another team of brothers, Brion and Eric Andrew Dodson of Captiv8 Productions, to create POOKERLAND.
Daniel Galeski said the movie is a metaphor for his own life experience with time passing and his fight for rights as a noncustodial parent.
He said the process of shooting scenes for the movie will be emotional for him.
“It’s been painful already,” Daniel said. “I get choked up.”
Along with the pain comes emotional cleansing, he said.
“The movie is about redemption,” he said.
The title of the film is also a homegrown story. Growing up, Daniel’s nickname was “Pookie Bear.” When Randi was born, he passed down an altered version of the nickname, calling her “Pooker."
“When she was playing and she was in her own little world, we would call it ‘Pookerland,'" Daniel said.
This is the second film that Hutchison, a graduate, has been cast in by her uncle and father, who co-founded Ring of Fire Entertainment. It's not a career she has actively pursued, she said, but is enjoying it.
“It’s cool because it’s spontaneous,” she said. “Every project they ask me to be in, I’m just glad to be there and be a part of it.”
For Hutchison, her favorite part of her acting experience has been becoming a character.
“You’re broadening your skills when you’re learning to be someone else,” she said.
POOKERLAND is a fictional story about Robert “Montie” Montgomery, a man released from prison after spending 25 years behind bars for second-degree murder. After his release, he returns to his Downriver home to discover his only living relative is a 15-year-old granddaughter he never knew existed and who is living in foster care. The movie expects to send a strong message of hope and redemption.
The film will feature local actors and also include an appearance by and his wife, Megan.
Scott Galeski said he was pleasantly surprised to get a positive response from Ryder's management after he pitched the idea for the movie.
“They said they would be willing to donate their services,” Scott said. “It’s spectacular. It puts a lump in your throat.”
Mitch said he isn’t trying to start a second career in acting.
“I’m not doing it for exposure,” he said. “I’m doing it to lend my name to show support for a Michigan-made project.”
Tim King of Waterford plays the role of Montie Montgomery, the male lead in the film. He has appeared in the three other films the Galeski brothers have produced. By day, King works in concrete and also is the lead singer of the band Heresy. Up until now, King said, he has played tough, gruff characters in the films. His new character is a grandfather and offers a departure from his other roles.
“It is a night and day difference," he said. "I don’t swear once, and I’m compassionate."
King said he doesn’t mind the change and wishes he was a grandfather in real life.
“I like mixing it up,” he said. “It will test my skills.”
While being an actor in addition to his day job is a lot of work for King, he said, he finds it interesting. He also said he enjoys the time he spends in Wyandotte.
“I love it down here,” he said. “It’s all old. I’m into mid-century stuff. I love the era.”
Louisa Concessi of Grosse Ile will play the love interest of Montie Montgomery. Concessi grew up Downriver and is excited to be part of the film. She has appeared in other Ring of Fire Entertainment films, Protangeline and the soon-to-be-released The Tank II. Concessi, an attorney, said it is nice to have acting as an outlet.
“It’s great to see Scott’s creativity coming to life,” she said. “He’s very gifted.”
Besides using local actors, the production will use tracks from local rap artist Joe Crowley Jr. who uses the stage name “Dagda." This is Crowley’s first experience contributing his music to a movie.
Scenes for the movie will be shot in Wyandotte. One scene will use a Wyandotte home to depict an orphanage. Other scenes will be shot at Bishop Park and various Wyandotte businesses. Daniel says they also will use “guerrilla style” filming where they run through the streets.
Brion Dodson of the production team Captiv8 was laid off from U.S. Steel Great Lakes Works a couple of years ago and took the opportunity to pursue his dream of producing films. He said it is important to him to shoot locally and bring business to the area.
“I love Wyandotte,” he said. “Everything is right here–the water, the parks.”
Scenes for the film also will be shot at an abandoned prison in Gettysburg, PA.
Ring of Fire Entertainment has produced two films, The Tank and Protangeline, which have been shown throughout the country and won multiple awards. The Galeski brothers also produced two short movies, Detention and Recreation, which have elf themes. Their most recently produced movie, The Tank II, is slated to be released in November. POOKERLAND does not yet have an estimated release date.