Director B.J. Rayniak (left) and producer Richard Blake discuss a scene shot during a film session at Ryan’s Railroad Station on Pine Street on Jan 22 (Jason Arndt/The Report).

Film duo conducts filming in area

By Jason Arndt

The City of Burlington took center stage on Jan. 22, when two independent filmmakers with local ties collaborated on a feature movie, which the writer calls a cautionary tale.

The feature movie, titled “Blame,” is about five young friends who embark on a ski trip and encounter tragedy.

Tragedy strikes when their vehicle is wrecked in a vicious snowstorm, and without cell phone service, they split up to find help.

“When they come back together, they realize one of the five has died,” said Richard Blake, the film’s writer and producer.

Blake wrote the script about 13 years ago and sold it to a production company.

Since the production company never produced the film, Blake regained the rights to the script, which he decided to film himself alongside producer B.J. Rayniak.

Blake and Rayniak, who also directed the film, selected Burlington because of their connections to the community and the general downtown atmosphere.

On Jan. 22, cast and crew members filmed scenes at Ryan’s Railroad Station, the Chestnut Street loop and the Coffee House at Chestnut and Pine.

“Burlington is a beautiful city with amazing people,” said Blake, a 2001 Westosha Central High School graduate who lives in Los Angeles.

“This little corner here looks like a movie set,” Blake noted during a Tuesday interview at the Coffee House.

Rayniak, who lives in Wheatland and graduated from Wilmot in 2001, said he and Blake also selected the area because business owners have been willing to cooperate.

Previous projects
Blake, who co-founded his production company, Amberock Productions LLC in 2015, attended Columbia College of Chicago with Rayniak and worked with him on a previous full-length feature film.

Rayniak, meanwhile, has his own production company called Rayni Day Productions.

Their recent production, “The Rocket,” was shot on location at Westosha Central High School in Kenosha County and included local people as film extras.

“The Rocket” is a small-town story inspired by true events, about a high school football star who suffers an injury and loses his life plan.

“Restricted from playing any sports and despite being an unlikely runner, the cross country coach brings the young man aboard his high school team out of necessity, and through much struggle, doubt, and determination, he finds a new way to push towards greatness,” the film’s synopsis states.

“The entire story is based on real characters and events that took place in the Midwest in 1999.”

Since “The Rocket,” which was sold to, the duo decided to collaborate on another project on the local level.

“We have a lot of resources around here, and people who want to be involved with films,” Blake said. “After the Rocket, we eventually decided come to Wisconsin.”

As for “Blame,” the two filmmakers spent about a year in pre-production, including planning.

They also were involved with casting, which included hiring Los Angeles-based actors, including Rachel Lynn David. She plays the role of Ella.

David, formerly of Florida, was on the Disney television show, “Game On” in 2013.

Austin Brook, who grew up in the Chicago area, plays Blake. He made his television debut on Dexter.

Other lead actors are Roberto Jay, of Chicago, Delayne Mitchell, Los Angeles, and Lauren Elyse Buckley, Los Angeles.

Further filming
Burlington is not the only area location, as the cast and crew will make a stop in both Wilmot and the City of Kenosha during the 18 days of shooting.

According to Blake, the locations allow area residents an opportunity to become involved in a feature.

“Our main goal is to provide an opportunity for people in this area to work on a feature film,” he said.

The two filmmakers hope to release the feature movie to a distributor by late-2019 or early-2020.

Editor’s note: This article appeared in the Feb. 1 print edition of the Report.


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