By BRANDON MESSICK
Piranha 3D was the last movie to be shot in Lake Havasu City, opening at No. 6 in the U.S. box office in 2010. One Havasu resident plans to create a film with far fewer fish, and more of what Havasu is really about.
The movie bears a working title of “Highway to Havasu,” and will be Jeff Janke’s first feature film. With a $100,000 budget, scenes will be shot in San Diego and Orange County, Calif., but much of the movie will take place, and be filmed in, Havasu itself.
Actor Caleb Thomas plays a young man whose heart is broken by a faithless girlfriend, played by actress Lily Berlina, just before Spring Break. Enter the main character’s best friend, who convinces him that a road trip to Lake Havasu City will be just the thing to cheer him up. In Havasu, Thomas’ character meets a local girl played by actress Kayla Compton, who shows him what the city is beyond the bacchanalia of drunken college shenanigans.
Janke says that the plot is very well-balanced, and comedy driven. The 121-page script for the film was written in three days, Janke says, and extra parts in the film have been left open in the hope of casting local talent in the film.
“Writing this film is how I see the city of Lake Havasu,” Janke said. “It’s not just about partying and craziness. This is my perspective on the town, and it’s something that I’m proud of.”
Janke has already received permission from the Coast Guard to shoot on the lake, and other shooting locations will include London Bridge Channel, Rotary Park and the London Bridge. Janke hopes to get final approval from the Havasu Police Department to shoot around the city, and has already gotten permission from the school board to shoot scenes at Lake Havasu High School.
Janke says that he is trying to get local businesses on board with the film for sponsorships, and is giving the movie a lot of social media promotion. “I want the town to be involved, and I want Havasu to be excited,” he said.
The film will start shooting in March, during Havasu’s Spring Break. Because all of the local hotels are already booked, Janke has arranged to rent a house for the actors to stay in while shooting.
“I’m not so concerned with profit,” Janke said. “My goal is to go into this project with four things in mind: Passion, a positive attitude, open-mindedness and to be driven to make this happen. Those four things will yield the best outcome. This isn’t designed to make money – I love this town, I love directing, and this is one of my passion projects.”
Janke expects that the film’s biggest obstacles will be poor weather and unforeseen expenses. At the moment, however, Janke wants to make people aware that his film is a positive thing for Havasu.
Janke believes that “Highway to Havasu” will be ready for release in August.