INDIANA – When the cast and crew of “A Wish for Giants” heard the words, “that’s a wrap,” it marked the end of another phase in the ongoing saga of a local filmmaker’s venture to bring the concept of his sophomore novel to the big screen.
Now, less than a year later, the feature-length film will make its world premiere Saturday, Feb. 17 at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex at Indiana University of Pennsylvania for all ages to enjoy.
“I think it’s going to be a huge day,” film producer Aaron Dunbar of Kittanning said last week of the premiere, noting that approximately 400 tickets total have already been sold for the event, which will feature three different “A Wish for Giants” showings. “We can seat around 620 people per viewing.”
Based on the 2015 novel of the same name penned by Dunbar, “A Wish for Giants” tells the story of Sophie, a young wish-organization volunteer, who — according to the movie’s tagline — “meets her kindred spirit in Roxie, a girl with a life-threatening medical condition and a unique wish to find Bigfoot.”
Produced by Dunbar and his wife, Mary, the self-funded movie was shot entirely in Armstrong and Indiana counties under the direction of Don Swanson of the Ebensburg-based independent film company Spruce Films. Filming took approximately 10 months to complete and featured more than 30 local talents who volunteered to act as extras and main characters.
“It’s a very solid production that doesn’t seem like an Indie film,” Dunbar explained of the movie, crediting its professionalism to the combined efforts of the cast and crew, production company and his wife who dedicated 10 months of their lives to the project. “I’ve met some incredible people through this journey. They deserve the pat on the back.”
In fact, Dunbar said the production wouldn’t have been possible without the talents of Swanson, local actor Connor McClain — a veteran stage-performer and senior at Indiana Regional High School who portrays resident bad guy Derrick Boehm — and actresses Alexa Mechling — who portrays Roxie Madison, the young girl with an inoperable brain tumor and a unique wish — and Naysa Altmeyer, a Spanish teacher at Saltsburg High School, who portrays Sophie Bracone, the tenacious wish volunteer who sets out to grant Roxie’s wish.
“Although she doesn’t have as much formal experience in acting as several of the other cast members, she does every bit as good a job portraying her character,” Dunbar said of Altmeyer.
According to Dunbar, the Feb. 17 premiere will feature showings of “A Wish for Giants” at 1, 4 and 7 p.m. with cast meet and greets following each viewing.
“The cast will be available for autographs and selfies,” Dunbar explained, noting that “A Wish for Giants” merchandise, including T-shirts, bracelets, posters as well as the book will be available for purchase.
In addition to the movie cast, Dunbar added that UFO and Bigfoot enthusiast and author Stan Gordon — who also made an appearance in the film — will have Bigfoot artifacts and merchandise set up all day for movie-goers to enjoy.
Continuing a partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Dunbar said that similar to the book sales, a portion of each movie premiere ticket that is sold will benefit the local chapter of the wish-granting organization.
“Make-A-Wish has been advertising the premiere,” Dunbar said, explaining that Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia Inc. representatives will also be on hand with mascot Stella the Star and a wishing well for additional donations in tow. “They will definitely be establishing a presence at the premiere. I think it’s really going to be good.”
Looking down the road, Dunbar said that Swanson has already submitted the film to 11 film festivals and plans are in the works to eventually distribute the movie on DVD.
When asked what he’s looking forward to most about the “A Wish for Giants” premiere, Dunbar said that he can’t wait to see how the audience reacts to the film.
“I hope everyone loves it as much as we all do,” he said. “We’re all taken in by it and looking forward to seeing viewers appreciate it like I think they will.”
The world premiere for “A Wish for Giants” will be held at the Toretti Auditorium inside the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex — located at 711 Pratt Drive, Indiana, PA 15705 — on Saturday, Feb. 17 with showings at 1, 4 and 7 p.m.
Tickets are $11 and available at the complex box office Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or for a limited time online at www.awishforgiants.com. Tickets will also be for sale at select area businesses leading up to the premiere. Check out “A Wish for Giants” on Facebook — https://m.facebook.com/awishforgiantsmovie/ — for details on times and locations.