Director Michael McGuire and producer Ben Fritz watch the action on a wintry Wisconsin set

Director’s Cut: Michael McGuire, “Aquarians”

Welcome to Season 12 of Director’s Cut on Wisconsin Public Television. Helping us shout “Action!” this Friday night is director Michael McGuire, discussing his film Aquarians.

AQUARIANS Official Trailer from Michael McGuire on Vimeo.

After an absence of several years, seminary student Daniel Sullivan returns to his wintry, Wisconsin hometown of Silver River. But if he’s to assist the dying Father Rob, he’s going to need to sway the skeptics who learn that he hasn’t spoken to his younger brother, Jake – a reclusive pot dealer – in years.  

With the help of a young woman from his past, Danny tracks his brother down, and the two embark on a ride of faith, ice fishing, temptation, drugs, and rock ‘n roll on the way to confronting their shared scars from a past tragedy that shaped their lives.

Read on for more about this film, and about my interview with director Michael McGuire!

Theatrical poster for Aquarians features two brothers on either end of a large saw, surrounded by a snowy landscapeGiven the synopsis, Aquarians might sound like a pretty heavily dramatic storyline, and it is. But the film is peppered with some really funny moments throughout.

After graduating from UW-Madison, McGuire moved to New York to pursue an acting career, landing guest roles on shows such as Law & Order. With a few jobs under his belt both in front of the camera and on stage, he decided to enroll in film school at the respected American Film Institute.

For the last ten years or so, McGuire has worked steadily as a producer in Hollywood; his credits are pretty impressive! In Aquarians, he now has his passion project under his belt as well.

Joining McGuire to make his vision come to life are actors Chandler Massey, Shane Coffey and Tracey Fairaway. He also tapped into the Wisconsin talent pool, casting American Players Theatre‘s Colleen Madden and James DeVita in supporting roles.

You might also recognize respected actor and Wisconsin native Richard Riehle in the role of Father Rob. Riehle, who has over 300 acting credits on his resume, appeared on Director’s Cut a while back discussing the film Pilot Error; he’s an excellent interview and really good guy.

Here he is discussing some of his favorite roles with us.

At this point, I should mention that I’m also part of this fabulous cast. I play Tom Marx, a science teacher who is trying to mentor Danny throughout this ordeal.

Aquarians was shot in and around the Marinette area in the winter of 2016. The local community plays a big role, including what the website refers to as “Day of 100 Extras,” where, yes, over 100 residents of Marinette, Menominee and the surrounding area generously stepped up to fill church pews for a Mass scene.

From the altar, see church pews filled with Marinette residents filming a Mass scene in Aquarians.Filming in Marinette was special to me because I currently reside near this little city on the bay, and I attended high school there. I also made a film called The Godfather of Green Bay (also featured on Director’s Cut years ago), much of which was also shot in Marinette/ Menominee, so it brought back great memories of the experience.

McGuire spent most of his youth in Marinette, camping and fishing on the beautiful lakes and rivers in the area. As a devout “inside guy,” this is where our paths deviated! When you’re an inside guy, it’s always 70 degrees… just sayin.’

Despite our shared connection to northeast Wisconsin, he and I did not meet until we were both living in L.A. Since then, we have become good friends. Needless to say, I’m thrilled that Director’s Cut is kicking off its 12th season with Aquarians, and you will be, too!

Please join me this Friday, May 3 for my interview with Mike McGuire on the season premiere of Director’s Cut at 10 p.m. And stick around after our interview, when we’ll air the full-length Aquarians for you to enjoy.

And tune in next week, when I’ll be chatting with director Carol Brandt about her film Pet Names.

As always, thanks for joining us on Wisconsin Public Television: your home for independent film!

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