Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Pam Martin

Niwot filmmaker uses local venues & brews


January 13, 2017

Courtesy photo “Army & Coop!” Director of Photography Justin Groom (right), and First Assistant Camera Eric Fulcher, on the set at Lefty’s Gourmet Pizza in Niwot.

Niwot resident and independent filmmaker Dennis Hefter wrapped the shooting of his comedy, Army & Coop! in December. The script took two years to write and four weeks to shoot, and was filmed with an all-Colorado cast and crew using local venues, including Lefty’s Gourmet Pizza on Second Avenue.

Most of the scenes were set at Mudrock’s Tap & Tavern in Louisville, where the story’s love triangle plays out, as well as the Karing Kind dispensary in Boulder and the Sports Stable in Superior, where the main character, Mike “Army” Armstrong (Heith Heine), plays hockey.

“The story is centered on a down-and-out NHL tough guy who’s unwillingly changing for the better throughout one day of his life,” Hefter said. Army is suspended from the hockey league, and according to the movie’s logline, “uses his time off to embark on a beer-fueled, skirt-chasing struggle against old foes to win back his ex-girlfriend [the actress Cali June].”

Local breweries helped sponsor the film by allowing Hefter the use of their brand names and product images, including Bootstrap Brewery, Avery Brewing, Oskar Blues, Boulder Brewery and Lone Tree Brewing.

Hefter’s post-production to-do list is long. “We’re two-thirds of the way through a rough edit, and then it’s on to the final edit, sound, colorization, music and scores,” he said, adding, “but it’s fun.”

In addition to two years spent writing the script, Hefter put in about six months on the making of the film (with casting held in August and September, and about 40 hired in total). But the education piece took several years of effort since Hefter comes from a background in information technology and software, not movie-making. He brought in the expertise of D.K. Johnston from Denver as the film’s co-producer.

Hefter’s eldest son, Andrew, worked as the associate producer on set; he also handled all the props and costumes, and booked the locations. The scene at Lefty’s took about four hours to shoot, according to shop owner, Lefty Harris, who was happy to participate. Harris’s mother is the actress and singer, Bobra Suiter, who worked with the composer Richard Rogers on the musicals Brigadoon and Carousel.

“Anybody mentions theater and that they need some help—my door’s wide open,” Harris said.

Army & Coop is considered a micro-budget indie film, which Hefter funded himself. “the majority of shots are in one location,” he explained, “with lots of indoor scenes to cut down on [the added expense of] weather and noise.”

Hefter decided to make the film before worrying about distribution because he preferred to have “free rein in terms of creativity from start to finish,” he said. “Typically you find a distributor before you start shooting,” he continued, but he plans to look into contacts he has in Los Angeles, or try the film festival route to find an audience. But Hefter’s primary goal has been to “make a film I’m proud of.”

The film’s expected release date is the summer of 2017.


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