On Friday, March 16, a movie called Among Us aired at the West Liberty New Strand Theatre. The film was written and directed by local citizen Jon Van Sickle, and it was produced by and starred Jon’s brother, Micah, both from Louisa Muscatine.
Among Us is a science fiction film that follows the main character Austin as he discovers people in his town are starting to disappear. He realizes that it will come down to him and his friends to stop them.
Jon was inspired to write this play after reading a biography of Steven Spielberg, a famous director.
“By the time Spielberg was my age, he had already filmed two feature-length films, and I felt behind. I figure I’d better get started if I wanted to be the best,” Jon says.
With the film starring mostly Muscatine residents, the brothers’ goal was to air the film in the Muscatine, but the brothers knew that the West Liberty Theatre has shown independent films in the past. With immediate interest from the theater, they made a deal. They showed the movie at 4:30 on Friday at The New Strand Theatre in West Liberty.
“We filled 70 seats, which we were excited about; however, I figure we would have had significantly more attendees if the showing was not during spring break,” says Jon.
Jon decided he really wanted to make his own film because he wanted to challenge himself in a very serious way.
“I knew that if I accomplished this that I would be able to accomplish so much more,” he says.
Making this film posed many conflicts for the brothers. One of them was scheduling, as five main actors plus crew and extras needed to be at the same place at the same time and be able to stay until they were done shooting. With most of the actors and crew members having jobs and other commitments, it made it difficult to get everyone together, but in the end they made it work.
The two brothers have been making short films, videos, and other clips for many years, giving them experience before they started Among Us. Among Us is definitely the biggest project that the brothers have done so far, but now, with that movie behind them, they are ready to start on another, bigger project.
This movie involved a great deal of the Muscatine community. They filmed all over town with so many Muscatine residents involved that the city became a big part of the process. One of the locations was the Pearl Button boat that was docked at the Muscatine Riverfront. The crew and actors of the film were some of the last people to use that boat before a storm damaged the Pearl Button beyond repair.