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'Sons of Provo' mocks boy band phenomenon

February 6th, 2005

By: Marijo Saunders Date: 29 December 2003 Source: Utah County Daily Herald URL: Popeye isn't the only one who eats spinach to nourish and strengthen his body. LDS cinema star Kirby Heyborne, of the Mormon films "The RM" and "The Singles Ward," also favors the leafy greens. Earlier this month, the 27-year-old co-star of the upcoming fall film "Sons of Provo" munched on spinach leaves and a chicken salad sandwich in between takes at Glazies Donutsin Provo. The actor was gearing up for his fifth scene change of the day as part of a three-week shoot filmed primarily in Utah Valley. "Sons of Provo" is a mockumentary that follows a fictional Latter-day Saint boy band, Everclean, on its path to Donny Osmond-like fame and glory. The film's actors drew inspiration from the popular local Christian quartet Jericho Road, and even watched the band's wistful, raindrops-and-wheat-fields music videos for inspiration. The mockumentary reunites Heyborne and Will Swenson, who starred in "The Singles Ward" and co-starred in "The RM," and adds the talents of newcomer Danny Taresevich. Shot on digital film in familiar Utah County locations, including Fat Cats and the apartment complex Liberty Square,the film's budget is a meager $200,000. Its story begins as the fictional Will and Danny, creators of Everclean, search for a replacement after losing the third member of their group. The brothers, one-time participants in the child pageant circuit, eventually recruit Heyborne to round-out their hollering and hearthrobbing. On their route to stardom, the band encounters a number of obstacles because, as Swenson explained, they "think they're a little more professional and talented then they actually are." Created and co-written by Swenson, "Sons of Provo" is one of several films based on the idiosyncrasies of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints set to be released in 2004. It comes on the heels of a flurry of activity in the fledging genre in 2003 -- including the ambitious but critically panned adaptation of the LDS book of scripture, "The Book of Mormon Movie, Vol. 1: The Journey." The less-than blockbuster sales of some recent other LDS films, such as the Latter-day adaptation of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," has some wondering just how long the Mormon cinema boom will last. With HaleStorm's "The Home Teachers" scheduled for release in January and "The Best Two Years" set for February, "Sons of Provo," may need something special to set it apart. That something, according to HaleStorm Entertainment publicist Jed Ivie, is the film's close tie with its quirky soundtrack. In a savvy marketing ploy, HaleStorm released the film's CD in November as a way to generate advance buzz. Like the wildly successful 1999 indie film "The Blair Witch Project," which used a Web site and word-of-mouth on college campuses to persuade many that the movie was actual footage of filmmakers lost in the woods, Ivie said he hopes some will believe Everclean is real. The 10-song soundtrack is bursting with inside nods to Mormon culture, such as "Dang, Fetch, Oh My Heck," "Nourish and Strengthen Our Bodies" and "Sweet Spirit." Playing pop stars is a role that each of the cast members found to be a natural fit, as the soundtrack to "Sons of Provo" proves. Swenson, Heyborne and Taresevich all boast an extensive background in music performance and lend their voices to the CD, which sold out of a local Media Play the first weekend it was released. In addition to co-writing the lyrics for the soundtrack, Swenson is also making his directorial debut. Although he is a seasoned stage director, "Sons of Provo" marks his first attempt at directing a film. In fact, from the original idea to the final product, Swenson has overseen almost every aspect of the film's production. "I just may not trust someone to, I guess, see my vision through enough, and so I just wanted to make sure I got it done right," he said. And although he's enjoyed the learning experience, he admits he may have taken on more than he bargained for. "I'm wearing about 20 hats," he said, "and it's way too much." Despite the stresses of making a movie, cast members agree they're having a great time -- something Heyborne attributes to the actors' artistic freedom. While they have a skeleton script to work from, the actors are free to improvise where needed, he explained. "There's hardly been any takes that we've had where you didn't end up cracking up at the end," he said. "I can honestly say it's the funniest thing I've ever been a part of." Only time will tell if audiences feel the same way.

Source: LDS