Antwerp is a city in Belgium…but what is The Antwerp Dolls? It’s an exciting feature film with a very hot cast and crew from England – and if you missed it in March when it debuted at the Garden State Film Festival, it’s coming around again for another whirl in the tri-state area. On Friday, September 25, starting at 5pm, The Antwerp Dolls will be screening at The Golden Door Film Festival in Jersey City, NJ.
For first-time director, producer, and writer Jake L. Reid, he originally stepped on U.S. soil in the New York – New Jersey area back in March when his film, The Antwerp Dolls, premiered at the Garden State Film Festival, and he is very excited that the movie’s already established U.S. fan base and so many others will have another chance to see the film again. It’s hard to believe that The Antwerp Dolls is his first film, and a feature film at that!
I had the opportunity to meet many of the cast and crew of the film in Atlantic City, NJ, and I could feel their energy and enthusiasm as soon as they entered the room. They are a very social bunch and share genuine friendships as well as a passion for their craft. I may add that they are fun to hang out with and true gentlemen. This combination of drive, talent, and personalities got my attention, and that’s why I decided that their story and film is something I had to involve myself with from the start.
It all starts out when ruthless businessman (more like mobster) Tommy Callaghan (Jason Wing) orders two of his most trusted couriers to collect a locked case - the contents of which he hopes will forge a powerful alliance with a mysterious new mafia force from Belgium (The triad of actors Bruce Payne, Sean Cronin, and Sebastien Foucan make quite a formidable corrupt Belgium team). The consignment however is intercepted by Callaghan's disgruntled former protégées, seeking revenge on their corrupt ex-boss. When Callaghan's men change their game plan in response, a destructive vortex of violence and double dealing ensues, leaving Callaghan in a deadly race against time - forced to use any means necessary to save his crumbling empire.
In the second opening scene, a mobster meeting is scheduled, and Sean Cronin and Bruce Payne’s characters make quite the entrance. There’s no question you know that something serious is going down from the time you hear the footsteps on the hardwood floor and Payne’s character Ray Ferrino, greets head mob boss Tommy Callaghan (Jason Wing) by his full name. It’s the meeting of the super villains, and the casting couldn’t have been more correct with pitting Payne and Cronin as brothers, supported by associates including Sebastien Foucan. There’s so much badass badness in the same room, you can feel the killer tension come through the screen.
Reid has prepared a film that will keep you in suspense until the very end about what the bad guys and other bad guys are after in this highly prized suitcase that primes the chase on screen. The use of carefully placed tight camera shots on the actors really intensifies the serious and sometimes sinister emotions expressed by the characters in the scenes. Jason Wing is the perfect capo, cast as gangster Tommy Callaghan. The best part – you won’t know what everyone is after until the contents of the case are revealed at the end of the movie.
The simple music score by Josh Wynter is haunting yet heart racing, perfectly matching the intensity and emotion of the scenes.
As an American viewing this film, I appreciated the English accents (It gives it that James Bond feeling.); and loved British the nuances, such as steering wheels appearing on the opposite side of cars.
The dialogue – listen closely – because you won’t want to miss spot-on insightful lines like this one:
"Make them love you. Love you like a god. Because people don't fear man. They fear God."
“The best part of filming The Antwerp Dolls is the realization of my vision on screen; watching it being translated from your mind, to script, and then to moving image is truly fulfilling,” shared director Jake L. Reid.
His vision is strong enough to command the attention of some serious industry talent, with the three henchmen (Payne, Cronin, and Foucan) brought on board. The rest of the cast collectively brings about the notion of organized crime figures with fit physiques, starting with camera angles picking up the visible strength of actor Courtney Winston portraying a svelte no-nonsense, don’t-mess-with-me character, Blacks, and Simon Pengelly (Steve) and Mani Sohal (Amir) follow suit.
“My inspiration for the film was that I wanted to create a story about a theme that is very important to me - and that is loyalty. There are several layers in the film that look how loyalty is earned or bought and the limits that it can be stretched to. From an artistic point of view, there a several directors that I have taken creative influences from, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, are to name just a few,” continued Reid.
Reid’s success with The Antwerp Dolls was not without a few blips behind-the-scenes while filming. These kinds of stories revealed always make the scenes a bit more interesting to watch.
While filming, the crew was on set of a disused train line – or so they thought.
“A train actually came down it whilst we were filming, and we had to dive for cover!” related Reid.
They look back with 8 out of their 9 lives left and by no means recommend this kind of tactic for others to try, but they do laugh at the thought that this actually happened to them!
This wasn’t the only thing that kept their production days full of adventure. They could have dispatched a film crew filming THEM behind the scenes with their unbelievable moments: Filmmaking: The Real Deal is a possible title for their chaotic moments while trying to make a movie.
“So for the car chase, I knew that we would never get permission to film the scene we had scripted without spending a lot of money. So we decided to do it guerrilla-style. We were flying around the streets and past this copper a couple of times, and he pulls one of the actors over to check the vehicle. Fortunately, his car was legal! The other one was not (not taxed). The lead actor almost crashed into a parked car as the chase led up to the top of the car park, too!”
So, when you watch the film, and your heart is racing, it’s probably because the hearts of the cast and crew were racing in real-life, too! To make things even more interesting, actors Josh Llewelyn, Simon Pengelly, Courtney Winston, and the director himself, lived on the edge and actually did the stunts themselves! (Keep this in mind when you watch the chases on foot, and in automobiles for added impact.)
Oh, one interesting fact: the film – it took them 4 years to make. Yes, 4 years! I kid you not! Many indie movies are completed in much tighter timelines, and given the duration that it took to come to completion, viewers can really appreciate the continuity in the final film.
While there has been discussion of a sequel, nothing definitive has been decided yet.
So, ladies, (and gentlemen) check out the future screenings of The Antwerp Dolls below to see where these talented movie makers will be making personal appearances and/or screening their film, and go, go, go! Be sure to get your chance to meet and greet this ensemble and watch The Antwerp Dolls as they take the world by storm!
In 2015 alone, The Antwerp Dolls has had screenings at the:
- 13th Annual Garden State Film Festival
- 15th Annual Silver Springs International Film Festival
- FSC Super Geek Film Festival (in Florida)
- and the 4th Annual Trinidad Independent Film Festival
…which is a pretty big deal for a European film to come crashing through the movie gates of the USA, and even a bigger deal for a first time writer/producer/director!
And…if you want to see the film…
[You can see The Antwerp Dolls
Film block 26, with the short film Kettle – at
The Golden Door Film Festival
The HCCC Conference Center Culinary Arts Institute
161 Newkirk Street, Jersey City, NJ 07306 (USA)
Tickets: $10 here]
The Golden Door Film Festival is hosted by the Sorvino family, founded by actor Bill Sorvino. It celebrates independent films and gives filmmakers the opportunity or the “Golden Door” to have their work shown on equal footing with all others. The location is easily accessible from everywhere in the tristate area with the backdrop of New York City, with screenings in the Jersey City locale.
After the Golden Door Film Festival, you can catch The Antwerp Dolls showing at the:
Ponciana Film Festival (January 2016)
Polish International Film Festival
Follow The Antwerp Dolls on Twitter @TheAntwerpDolls
To keep up with Director Jake L. Reid, follow @Jake_L_Reid on Twitter, too!