In late January 2016, a group of IU alumni returned to Bloomington, Ind., with cameras and a production crew in tow. For three weeks, Bloomington served as the backdrop for their upcoming movie The Good Catholic.
The film, which was released September 2017, is a romantic comedy about a priest falling in love with a woman and deciding whether or not to remain a priest. Paul Shoulberg, MFA’07, wrote the script loosely based on the true events of his parents’ own love story. The Good Catholic also features Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon and The Color Purple) and John C. McGinley (Scrubs and Platoon) as priests.
Producers Zachary Spicer, BA’06, and John Armstrong, BA’02, MFA’07, are owners of the production company Pigasus Pictures, which made the film. Spicer also stars as Daniel, the young priest in love, while Shoulberg was the director.
“Paul gave me the script to read as an actor,” says Spicer. “Paul’s last film, Walter, had lots of big investors. The story of The Good Catholic was very important and personal to him. He wanted to make it without concessions and have creative power. The first person I went to was John.”
The men decided they would use their various connections to help produce the film with a smaller budget to help them maintain maximum control of the story and creative process.
“We stared ‘in network’ to find IU alumni and investors we wanted to be on board with us,” explains Armstrong. “We wanted people who would buy into our vision and dream.”
Armstrong says through networking with the New York Chapter of the IU Alumni Association they were able to meet investors, and get help with legal advice and accounting services. David Anspaugh, BS’70, director of films Rudy and Hoosiers, served as executive producer.
The film was made in association with Graham Sheldon’s production company, Standup 8. Sheldon, BA’09, who served as a producer on The Good Catholic, says he enjoys any opportunity to be back in Bloomington.
“I spoke in Ballantine 013 to about 300 students,” he says. “I remember taking a French exam in there as a student. It is unique experience to be back and on the other side of the podium.”
Sheldon says the people and businesses in Bloomington helped make the filming possible, because everyone was so accommodating.
“We knew if we came back here, people would open their arms for us,” says Spicer. The film crew was able to use Trinity Episcopal Church on Kirkwood Avenue at a discounted rate and the mayor’s office allowed them to close streets when filming on Kirkwood. The city also accommodated them by keeping the lights up around the courthouse square for several weeks longer than scheduled.
The IU campus was another good reason to film in Bloomington.
“The film is set in a college town,” says Armstrong. “We all met at IU, so it made sense to return here.”
Spicer hopes this is just the beginning of their movie making in Bloomington. He wants to work with IU to create an intensive summer film program that lasts 8–12 weeks, giving students a real-world opportunity to work on a film.
This article appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of the Indiana University Alumni Magazine, a magazine for members of the IU Alumni Association. View current and past issues of the IUAM.