NOVI (WWJ) -Michigan’s film industry receives another name on its growing list of approved films for its Film and Digital Media Incentive.
First-time feature film director and producer Michael Angelo Zervos wants to bring a unique and “Un-Hollywood” tale to silver screen entitled “Papou,” a Greek word meaning grandfather. Zervos will direct international film actor Yorgo Voyagis (Zorba the Greek, Without Borders), child actor Evan Kole (Golden Shoes, Avengers), and Emmy-Nominated comedian Basile (Jimmy the Greek).
The story centers around the titular grandfather named Archie (Voyagis) and his remarkable bond with his equally remarkable grandson, Demetri (Kole). When Archie is diagnosed with cancer, the oblivious but highly imaginative Demetri becomes determined to find a way for the two of them to live forever.
“It isn’t a story that one would expect to see picked up by some enormous studio because it doesn’t contain over-the-top violence or meaningless sex” Zervos said in a release. “I knew that when I wrote the script and that it simply wouldn’t be made if I didn’t helm the project myself.”
Papou is a story that is told through the perspective of a child and deals with universal themes of life and death. Zervos hopes that families will be able to watch the film and discuss their own views on these issues.
“I am a firm believer that films, if they are going to be treated as art, must be bold, intelligent, but also emotionally driven. As an audience member, if I forget a film by the following day, it wasn’t worth watching. I’m hoping that the story we tell is the kind that people will remember for a long time,” Zervos said.
Film industry veterans Michael Sinanis and Christos Moisides quickly joined the project as co-producers, giving the rookie director guidance through the often difficult waters of crafting a feature film independently.
“It’s a deep, heartfelt, and personal story that will resonate with audiences of all types” Sinanis explained when asked why he took the role. “I can tell that [Zervos] is serious about this project because he knows exactly how he wants this story told and he’s committed to doing it right. Everything is in his head ready to be shot.”
In addition to his all local crew, Zervos has hired a diverse cast comprised of mostly local talent.
“I’m using talent from six to sixty so I’ve had to recruit from both grade schools and senior citizen homes” Zervos said. “The talent is all here if you dig enough. Some of the actors have never been on camera before but I knew just as soon as met them that they have potential to carry significant roles. Others that I’ve hired are seasoned experts at the craft and will bring the kiss of life to what only exists currently on paper.”
Zervos even completed his film’s financing in a dramatic way fitting for film itself. When planning for a recent fundraiser at a local restaurant, Zervos and his co-producers estimated a mere one hundred would show up to support the project. Instead, over 250 people crowded the modest establishment and helped him raise the final $7,000 of his $200,000 feature.
“Once again, the people of Michigan proved supportive of the arts and of an industry they have grown quite fond of” Zervos said.
Principle photography is set to start in July and be wrapped by the end of the summer. Zervos plans on entering Papou into the festival circuit followed limited theatrical release in 2014.