Home Arts Filmmaker relies on Wisconsin’s beauty, talent in latest project

Filmmaker relies on Wisconsin’s beauty, talent in latest project

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A Los Angeles filmmaker turned her thoughts toward home in the exploration of creating a feature-length comedy. 

Now that it’s complete and awaiting distribution, Wisconsin native Ryann Liebl recognizes her instinct paid off far more than she anticipated.

“It came out better than we wanted, which is amazing,” Liebl said. “It looks like a movie we spent millions of dollars on and we didn’t.”

“Mags and Julie Go On A Road Trip” was filmed in Wisconsin in July 2019 and will be distributed online in October or November. Liebl is planning to hold a premiere in Wisconsin, and with a pandemic upon us, we can anticipate a drive-in movie event.

The film features Liebl, Elisabeth Donaldson and Milwaukee’s Wes Tank, who’s developed Internet fame and surpassed 10 million views with his innovative Dr. Seuss rap videos.

Liebl relied on Wisconsin talent and took advantage of the state’s unparalleled scenery to create a comedy that she feels is the right antidote for our unsettling times.

With the hard work behind, the ultimate goal awaits.

“I’m excited to make people happy,” she said. “More than ever, we need entertainers that are positive and inspiring. We need more comedy and it’s not mean humor, not drug humor, not gross-out humor … it’s just old school, physical comedy and we need more of that.” 

It is what it says it is.

It’s a road trip, buddy comedy; a theme choice made in part out of logistics. It afforded Liebl the ability to tell a story while holding down the number of shooting locations. The writing reflects the performers, films, shows and situations that had her laughing out loud while forging her comedic tastes.

She grew up with a steady diet of John Hughes and National Lampoon movies. Without cable television in the house, her standard fare while growing up included shows like “Green Acres” and “Leave it to Beaver.” She drew inspiration from the physical comedy of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.

The film draws on the natural comedy of how people react to incredible situations.

“I wanted it to be the ‘Mission: Impossible’ of comedy,” she said. “I didn’t want to let up. I wanted it to be one thing after the other until it reaches a conclusion.”

Liebl grew up in the Milwaukee suburbs before heading off to college at USC and making a home in Los Angeles.

Wisconsin provided some stunning visuals that those of us here too often take for granted. She recalled the excitement of how Milwaukee’s Third Ward came alive on film.

“It was really interesting shooting there, because it looks like a movie set,” she said. “It was unbelievable when we saw it through the camera.”

The movie was filmed in Milwaukee, Sheboygan, Ozaukee and Sturgeon Bay. The goal was to secure beautiful locations and allow them to speak for themselves.

She was thrilled for the chance to showcase actors who had all the talent necessary, but haven’t been given the opportunities.

They shined.

“It’s pretty magical when you’ve written something, and when it becomes real, it’s even better than what you saw in your head,” she said.

It’s a film about friends who are being pulled apart by work and other familiar challenges. They embark on a last-minute road trip during which everything that can go wrong does — and they learn about true friendship along the way. 

It’s a familiar style of comedy, but one that runs against the grain of modern trends. 

Liebl has a feeling that it’s the kind of movie that viewers have been waiting to see once again.

“It’s a really special little movie and really frickin’ funny,” she said. “That’s something that isn’t easy to accomplish these days.”

For more information and to keep up to date on release dates, visit the film’s website, magsandjulie.com. To catch Wes Tank’s viral Dr. Seuss videos, click here to direct to his YouTube channel.