The Summerland Project

Created in the Corridor: The Summerland Project | Published on September 24, 2014

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) – There’s a new feature-length film being produced in Cedar Rapids called “The Summerland Project.” It has attracted top talent from Hollywood to star in the movie but the biggest players are local. And the hope is that international audiences will soon get to see what they’ve Created in the Corridor.

‚“It‚„s the type of script as a filmmaker you wait your whole life for,‚ says Adam Orton, who left his job at Chicago’s Second City to return home to direct “The Summerland Project,” a love story conceived a dozen years ago by another local creative force. Writer Rob Merritt explains, “‚“The idea of “The Summerland Project” came from a very basic question that a lot of people ask which is, ‚œif you had the ability to bring back someone who you lost, would you do it and what would you say to them if you did?‚„‚”

First performed in the tiny Grandon Theater in 2011 as part of Theatre Cedar Rapids’ Underground New Play Festival, “Summerland” had an all-volunteer cast with almost no budget. ‚“I built a lot of the props myself,‚ recalls Merritt. Then, a year-and-a-half later, it got rave reviews during a larger production on TCR’s main stage. ‚“We had no idea that it was going to become what it did. No idea at all.‚

It was then that Merritt sent his script to Orton for cinematic consideration. ‚“Just reading the script on my own, as a filmmaker, I said, ‚œthis is absolutely something we have to do,‚„ remembers Orton. “Like, this has to be the next thing I work on.‚

In short, the sci-fi drama revolves around the characters Carter and Amelia Summerland, a husband whose wife is dying and in a coma. In an effort to save Amelia, Carter consents to putting an artificial copy of Amelia’s brain into a robot that looks just like her. ‚“She makes me and everyone question what it really means to be a human,” says Angela Billman who portrays Amelia. “Is it having flesh and blood and a beating heart in your chest? Or is it having the capability to love someone?‚ Billman also played Amelia in the main stage production at TCR. ‚“

“I just find her to be complicated and beautiful and so interesting. I‚„’m very drawn to her,”‚ Billman says of her character.

Merritt doesn’t know where “The Summerland Project” will go from here but he is grateful for the countless volunteers and local professionals who believe in it. ‚“

“If this movie puts a positive spotlight on Cedar Rapids as a city, wonderful. But I don’‚„t deserve the credit for that. It’‚„s all the people who picked up this project and ran with it that get the credit for that.‚”

The Summerland Project