Locally produced film is a bittersweet homecoming for character, filmmaker.

October 18, 2016
Lisa Enos

Lisa Enos

Locally produced film is a bittersweet homecoming for character, filmmaker.


By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

There’s something about coming back to the town you grew up in that can be bittersweet, especially when you’ve made a name for yourself in the bigger world. A new movie by filmmaker Lisa Enos is about such a character who is seen by his hometown as a shining star, but he himself isn’t so perfect.

While the movie’s plot and character by no means parallel the filmmaker’s life, Lisa can relate to growing up in a small town and living a life in the bigger world. Lisa grew up in Riverton Township and graduated from Mason County Central High School. She is the fifth generation of her family to live in Mason County. Needless to say, her roots are deep here. After receiving her degree from Michigan State University, Lisa moved to the Northwest and began working in documentary filmmaking. Her career evolved into fiction and she soon moved to Los Angeles and then London.

After she and her husband divorced, Lisa decided to move back to west Michigan and eventually landed back home, in Mason County, with her two children. After spending about seven years back in Ludington, Lisa decided it was time for a change and moved back to Grand Rapids.

“Coming back to Mason County was kind of a reboot for me,” Lisa says. “I wanted to raise my kids somewhere I was familiar with and where I knew people and had roots. I reached a point, though, where I needed to get back to my career, which meant I needed to be in a place that gave me greater access to the tools and resources I needed.”

Since being in Grand Rapids, Lisa has become involved with several film projects. She has just completed her own film, a piece of work that has been in her mind for more than a decade.

“Soft Core” is a story about Jake Hudson (played by Daniel E. Falicki), an award winning playwright who has returned to his home town to speak at his alma mater during Christmas break after several years in New York City and more recently LA where he is trying to make it as a screenwriter.

Early in the movie, it is revealed that Jake suffers from writer’s block and struggles with several vices that have caused his life to take a turn for the worse. A drunk driving incident leads to some soul searching.

“Like myself, Jake Hudson has had some success as a writer and a performer,” Lisa says. “By hometown standards he made it, big time. He’s no loser,  but there’s a finer line between making it and circling the drain than anyone outside the business realizes. There’s an internal conflict present in all the writer/filmmaker/performers who are still trying to really make it, not just by our hometown’s standards, but on the grand scale. We’re always one project away from either greatness or skid row.”

About a third of the movie was filmed in Mason County with other portions filmed in Grand Rapids and LA.

“There’s something about working with people from west Michigan, especially Mason County,” Lisa says. “This is home and my roots go deep here. It was great to have people who stepped up to help me out with this project.”

Local filming took place at area parks and restaurants (the Blu Moon and The Mitten), and at Mason County Central High School, Lisa’s alma mater.

The film is something Lisa has been working on for a long time.

“As an artist, I’ve always felt called to depict accurately the world around me,” she says. “As a woman of a certain age, I rarely see films about subject matters that are familiar to me. Financial burdens, relationship challenges, and health care concerns make up the daily grind for most of the people I know. These are issues that served as the inspiration for “Soft Core.”

The name “Soft Core” should not be confused with the word “softcore,” which is a reference to a type of pornography, Lisa says, adding that the film pays homage to Paul Shrader, a filmmaker from Grand Rapids, who shot the crime film “Hardcore,” starring George C. Scott, in Grand Rapids. Lisa’s film “Soft Core” also takes place in Grand Rapids.

The movie does have adult themes and Lisa expects it to be given an R rating. But, the themes are not uncommon to the issues that many people face in their own lives.

“The playwright on whom I very loosely based the character Jake Hudson, wasn’t your typical high brow New Yorker,” Lisa says. “In 1994 I had the pleasure of seeing a one man show in Chicago. For years it stuck with me. The playwright and performer was a down home type. I think he hailed from Texas. I wondered what ever happened to him and did a Google search to find I wasn’t off the mark thinking it was one of the best shows I’d ever seen. The play, it had turned out, had made theater history by staking its claim as the longest-running one man show in Broadway history. Maybe he’s since changed his name, but as far as I can tell, it was his one and only hit.”

During her recent residency in Ludington, Lisa worked as a photojournalist. She credits that experience with helping give her the confidence of being able to work behind the camera.

“This movie was shot on a micro budget and it was 100 percent on location,” Lisa says. “My five year stint as a staff photographer at a daily newspaper had given me the camera experience and confidence I needed to shoot the film myself. Filming took place over the course of five months and was done with the help of a tiny crew and a volunteer director of photography who showed up on several occasions to lend a hand. I am eternally grateful to everyone who contributed and hope to be able to bring a paying gig to all of them after “Soft Core” makes its theatrical debut.”

Lisa says ideally she hopes the movie will be picked up for distribution. She plans to submit it at some well known film festivals, which will often give an independent film traction.

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