Royal Oak-based Folkteller Stories is teaming up with Radish Creative Group in Royal Oak and Lakeview Pictures in Los Angeles to produce a feature film based on the story of the Nain Rouge, a mythical red dwarf said to have cursed the city of Detroit since Antoine del la Mothe Cadillac first edged his canoe on the shores of the Detroit River in 1701.
The companies plan to begin filming this summer or early fall, after securing investors and funding, says Joe Bastian, who founded Folkteller with Carl Winans in 2014.
“This is really a sort of love letter from Detroit to the rest of the world,” Bastian says. “The story is based in Detroit, but it has universal themes. Even people outside of the area are fascinated by the story.”
The tale, which builds on Bastian’s Nain Rouge trilogy and full-color graphic novel, will follow 13-year-olds Elly and Tom, who are tasked with rescuing Detroit from the Nain Rouge, originally a sprite who guarded the river’s narrow straights, and grew vengeful after being mistreated by the French settlers.
The fantasy film will take place in Michigan, with on-shoot locations planned at the Detroit Institute of Arts and other landmark and historic sites.
Amy Weber, founder of Radish and a former educator, will direct the film. After her first feature, Annabelle & Bear, gained national attention through the film festival circuit, she was honored as the 2011 Michigan Filmmaker of the Year.
Mike Kopera, a Troy native who now lives in Los Angeles, will serve as the film’s producer. Kopera’s first short film, My Friend Peter, was accepted into more than 25 international film festivals. His first feature film, The Cabining, screened at 11 festivals.
“We want to make this a homegrown project and get as many people from Michigan involved as we can,” says Bastian, noting that the team also intends to bring on at least two big-name actors to help drive box office sales. The group also plans to take advantage of tax credits available from the Michigan Film Office.