Dog Days in the Heartland Cast & Crew Profile #15: Scott Michael Dunn

Dunn played Steve in Dog Days in the Heartland:

"My involvement in Dog Days spans back very close to the beginning of my entrance into the industry. I made a decision when I turned 40 to get involved in the entertainment industry and finish my college degree. After investing almost four years of my life devoted to finding my place in the local film industry, I finished my degree with honors (Magna Cum Laude). My road has been filled with some amazing developments but let’s stick to Dog Days. Almost 60 films later, things are still churning and burning for me personally. This was a learning experience and an unforgettable personal experience in filmmaking.

I was attending the Capstone screening when Devon Lee, a film student, mentioned to me a name: Chad Carpenter. He told me to get in touch with Chad because he had a feature in development. I contacted Chad and we talked for a couple of hours as our thoughts and visions aligned with his project (I drove 30 miles out of my way lost in conversation). We met several times after discussing the project and what character that I was interested in auditioning to play. We talked about the script and the project at length. Then Chad called me in a somber tone to meet. A difficult day was upon us; we hit a wall. Chad was on a timeline to put this project in motion and the casting service was not producing any leads or following through. I vividly remember sitting at the Panera Bread Company in Manchester when Chad delivered the blow to me. He felt winded enough to consider this the end of the road. I jumped to the cause and told Chad, “We can cast this thing, I can cast this thing. Let’s make a movie.” I took over the casting and we had a terrific turn-out at the late Archive Music House. 40+ people arrived, auditioned and we staged an amazing event as things went better than expected. The movie was in motion and I was eager and excited to keep things rolling.

Considering that I was unafraid to take on a project that I had never attempted like casting, Chad found faith in my ability to deliver when times were tough. There was an instance we needed the cast on site and I jumped in the car, keep in mind I was just cast at this moment and recruited from a local bar. I also helped location scout for a nursing home scene. I performed for the film and had a blast during filming. Chad provided creative flexibility with the cast and it turned out there was terrific continuity and talent involved. I spent more time with Chad through post with some marketing support and helped design, to some degree, the current direction of Middle West Movies streaming and distribution efforts.

On to what’s happening with me. I have been testing my ability with interesting characters and lots of activity in the film industry. I met with Chad recently at the screening of Bad Grandmas to catch up and watch a really entertaining movie, by the way. Some folks were introducing themselves to me and Chad laughed heartedly and said you’ve become quite a celebrity. I never considered myself anything near a celebrity, but it was a great feeling – Chad has a way of sharing positivity and motivation! I finished a few new films that are screening this summer and I have a few other films that are in production":

Fugue, by Gabe Sheets

Ellee, by Parker Roth

Abducted Anonymous, by Nathan Karimi

Interviewing Monsters, by Thomas Smugala

All That Remains, by George Hovis

The Box, by Doveed Linder

God of Wine, by Doveed Linder

Supermen: World War, by Donald Callahan

Abduction 207, by Vis Brown

111 - The Light, by Dark Village Films

Fine Print, by Mike Cowen

Fools and Gold by Nate Nguepsi

Dog Days in the Heartland Cast & Crew Profile #14: Teresa Carpenter

Teresa Carpenter - Storyboards, Catering/Craft Services, Producer of Production Baby

Words by Chad Carpenter:

"Today I’d like to highlight the most important and under recognized contributor to our production, my wife Teresa Carpenter. Teresa has been the most consistent source of support throughout this entire process. Not only did she provide storyboards, catering/craft services, read scripts (really bad scripts!), produce a production baby (1st week of principal photography) and attend test screenings, she also was there for encouragement, support, raise the kids, assure our parents, hold down the house, give up her van, and pass on too many vacations/home renovations. 

I am so thankful for all the love and support. We could not have done this without you. And most importantly, I wouldn’t have such an amazing family to love if it weren’t for you. I love you and you mean the world to me.

Teresa is an amazing artist and is excited for me to return the favors as she focuses on her mediums of ceramics and illustration. Teresa currently does sign art for Trader Joe’s, Baumann’s Meats, Jilly’s Cupcakes, and Core 3 Fitness. This summer, she returns to her passion of ceramic arts. Fired Earth Designs Ceramic studio will be operational Summer 2018. " 


Dog Days in the Heartland Cast & Crew Profile #13: Chad Carpenter


Chad Carpenter is the director of Dog Days in the Heartland.

"I have always wanted to make movies. I loved to escape and a chance to dream. The coolest heroes, the defiant misfits set the tone for who I wanted to be. We played make believe to our favorite movies. I would storyboard the movies I wanted to make. I would daydream in moving pictures. 

I considered studying film in the late nineties. The golden era for independent film. My parents encouraged me to focus on web design, another emerging medium. They said I could come back to pictures when I was older. I got my degree in design, got a job, started a family.

Still, all I wanted to do, all I would dream about was making a movie. Eventually, the mundane doldrums of corporate life got to be too much. In 2011, I got tired of complaining about work getting in the way and just started to write my movie. I got my employer to cover some film classes at Lindenwood, got access to equipment, learned to edit, and made a bunch of friends who were even more passionate about making film than myself.

In 2014 we decided to shoot a scene from the script as a short. A proof of concept. We shot it all in one day. It was the greatest high of my life. I felt out of body watching a scene emerge from my mind's eye right before me. A team of creatives were aligned and making this whole thing real.

The short not only gave me a taste of the magic, it is also when I learned young production artists needed an opportunity. Talking with our crew, I learned how hard it was to get fair pay while pursuing the dream. I decided after that day we needed to provide an opportunity for aspiring filmmakers. That's the day it stopped being about "my" movie and became an opportunity for others. That's when this thing got interesting.

Dog Days has been blessed in so many ways, by so many people. I believe things came together when this stopped being mine and became focused on others. I was blessed with Dylan Schnitker's vision behind the lens. Eric Schmidt's art direction. The Gundaker's making their track our playground. Harry and Jane Johnson opening their home. So many gave to this project. Their love is evident in this picture. I am proud of our movie, but it's all the relationships that make my heart warm and I will remember for the rest of my life.

So many of our production artists are thriving living their dream. I like to think Middle West Movies helped them move closer to their dreams. I am so thankful to play a part in their journey. 

Middle West Movies is continuing to provide that opportunity for production artists of the Midwest. MWM has three pictures in development for summer 2018. We are pursuing regional theatrical distribution, first with Dog Days, but then to offer that channel to other Midwestern filmmakers. We're starting in St. Louis and looking to grow across the region. 

It all started with a dream. It grew to an opportunity to serve others. The universe has blessed us in so many ways. I am very excited for the adventures ahead."


Dog Days in the Heartland Cast & Crew Profile #11 & #12: Dylan Schnitker & Sam Baiamonte

Dylan Schnitker (DP) and Sam Baiamonte (editor) talk working on Dog Days in the Heartland with local podcast, Exist.

Dylan tells of how Dog Days evolved - “The short film a lot of people talk about doing a short and turning it into something bigger, but Chad followed through with that. When it became time to do the feature, it was cool to see things come together."

"It was really cool seeing how it changed once we started to get good action. We did two summers, it was a pretty big process. We started out pretty hard on the script. It was interesting to really start to chase some non-actors. It was really interesting to see the script have a blurred line between reality. It was almost like we had this net and we threw it out to reality and it caught on to parts of reality that we were tied to and we just started to chase certain parts. Like when we shot that second summer, we started to chase certain parts that were effective that first summer. Just a cool process to see what kind of came from that short film and just turn it into this whole big thing. And then when Sam came in and edited all of it. The whole post process has been the big thing.“

Sam on the post-production process - “It was definitely daunting. I remember I got the script and started to log everything and organize everything, I used the script as more as an outline than a roadmap. It just kind of took on a life of its own. "

"After a while, the footage was so different from the script, so I just started to follow the footage, just seeing where the story had taken itself, separate from the script. Even though it was challenging to put it into a structure, I think the movie now is so fluid, raw, and real because of that process. It allowed us to have a more contemporary and abstract approach. The docu-style helped piece together the narrative in a traditional way, but take nontraditional paths to tell the story. “

- Dylan is doing independent projects, such as Mineral to Society and music videos with local St. Louis artists such as Foxing and Eric Donte.

- Sam is an Editor at Bruton-Strobe and also the producer, shooter, and editor for music videos with local groups such as Low Weather. 

Full podcast on Soundcloud:


Dog Days in the Heartland Cast & Crew Profile #10: Jake Leech

"To have your work exist permanently in a space that you can revisit time and time again like a memory materialized, is something that few get to have the privilege. To be able to revisit something that grants you increasing joy and pride in what you’ve achieved with so many talented others upon each return to the space, is something even fewer have experienced. Something of a blessing, a phenomenon, a miracle. 

I never thought I'd be able to say, "I created a film soundtrack", but it had always been a dream of mine, or more a passing passion. But on August 30th, 2015, I received an e-mail from Dylan Schnitker, a very talented St. Louis-based Cinematographer, kindly put me in touch with a local Director, Chad Carpenter. And after a 2+ year process, Dog Days in the Heartland, the film was finished and the OST (Original Soundtrack) followed on August 11th, 2017. There some people who need be recognized for their work, for which mine would have never come to be without.

Sam Baiamonte, one of my closest friends and Editor of the film, set the tone for a film that shows more than meets the eye, but doesn't stray us into the clouds. Who showed audience members, some who've never cared about film, that a film could be made about familiar surroundings and say “I’ve felt that, but never knew it was something real”. Sam made it real and we owe him for that exceptional realness.

Chad Carpenter, our director and fearless leader, whose vision always kept us motivated with his tireless joy and passion, not only for the film, but for independent, mid-western cinema in general. He's a person whose vision is opening doors for so many others to express themselves creatively and get the notoriety they deserve. He sees that there is real talent in Mid-America, and wants to bring it to the world. If you know someone who doesn't believe a person can be a trailblazer and the kindest of people at the same time, send them to Chad.

Dylan Schnitker’s, our DP, has an eye that proves the concept of possessing ‘something that can’t be taught’. Knowing how to find the idiosyncratic moments of living and non-living things, is what makes cinema worth watching, and Dylan couldn’t be more in sync with it.

It’s a film I hope you’ll see, to not just see what a mid-western sky looks like, but what it feels like inside.

PS: I quickly want to say thank you to my friend and incredibly talented violinist, Emma Tiemann, for lending her bow to the score. Her talents hoisted our soundtrack to the place we always dreamed it would, and we are eternally grateful for her contributions. 

PPS: I am working on the soundtrack of a new short film entitled Sumergido (translation: Submerged), directed by Tal Mandil & Mario Riquelme, currently in production in Santiago, Chile."


BC & Soundtrack:


Next film I’m working on:




Dog Days in the Heartland Cast & Crew Profiles #9: Jane & Harry Johnson

"Hi, I'm Jane Johnson. My husband, Harry wouldn't write up a profile, so I did and he ok'd it.
It was a real surprise to us when, after looking at our farm, Chad Carpenter asked if he could use it as one of the locations in his film.He also asked our daughter, Tara McKenzie, if he could use her horses and dog (Chili).
After taking a few shots around the farm and talking to Harry for a whole afternoon, Chad asked Harry if he would be in the film,  to play the part of Bob Johnson, one of the lead roles. I was thinking, Oh boy, where is this going? We knew nothing about independent films or the making of one. We looked at the script. Harry (no acting experience) agreed he would do the part.

Chad reassured him he would direct him through it. I thought this is gonna be fun to watch. Then Chad asked me to play, Millie, Bob" wife. All I had to do was lie in a hospital bed and act like I was in a coma. No talking! Yeah for me!! I agreed.
Then the fun began.
Harry enjoyed every minute of it ( except the long days) He loved meeting and working with all the actors and the production crew. We felt like they were becoming part of the family, because of all the time we spent together. We had a lot of fun and made a lot of memories to cherish through the years.

Since the movie:
We have been playing with our band Johnson's Jubilee. We've had the band 18 years now. We play old-time country, bluegrass, and gospel music. We both sing and I play stand up bass and Harry plays guitar.

Our granddaughters sing with us.
We love to go to our Arkansas cabin and we play music there also with other friends.
We are still living on our farm. Harry is happiest when he is preaching, from the Bible and telling others the good news.
He plays pool at the senior center.
He's a great husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.
We'll be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary this year in August.
We want to thank everyone involved in making Dog Days in the Heartland. It was fun. It turned out beautiful. Congratulations on a job well done and thanks for believing in us old country bumpkins. Thanks for the memories."


Dog Days in the Heartland Cast & Crew Profiles #8: Christina Raney

"I am a bit of a newbie to the film industry.  My background has always been theater in various high school and college plays. It wasn’t until 2008 when I got a lucky break to be an extra in “The Lucky One’s” that I got the bug for film.  After that, I started looking into different film roles on and off in my spare time.  Then, in 2017, Dan Steadman from LA came to our little town for his play, “Somewhere Between Arnold & Festus”.  There I had my first speaking role in an Independent Film.  From then on, I was hooked.  I dabbled in a few other Independent films here and there and took a couple of acting classes. Then, I was invited to audition for the role of Kristi for Middle West Movies. 

Working on the film of Dog Days with Chad Carpenter was unlike any other film I’ve been on. Chad was so relaxed and had such an open mind that it was extremely easy to allow ourselves to connect with our characters.  I’ve heard nothing but amazing comments about Chad from the entire cast and crew and I would love nothing more than to be a part of his future projects!!!  Viewers will be able to see what I mean when they watch this film. Every character is so unique and has their own story to tell.  The film is pieced together so beautifully that it’s definitely one that moviegoers will want to watch a 2nd time!

I’ve always been a huge fan of Independent films because you know the people behind the story is someone trying to fulfill a lifelong dream they believe in whole hardly. It’s not about the money or the fame, it’s about making a connection and telling a story. Since there are normally little to no budgets, cast and crew become one big family pouring their heart and soul into making the film the absolute best motion picture that it can be. This is hands down, one of those films that I am so proud to be a part of!"


Acting Reel:



Dog Days in the Heartland Cast & Crew Profiles #7: Wesley Hastings

"The lead role of Craig (Hastings) for Dog Days more or less fell in my lap. A fellow actor who I had worked with on my first-ever acting gig, Eric Wolfgang Nelson, was originally slated for the role. Due to union obligations, he had to back out and thought of me as an adequate replacement. Not only because we had worked together before, but because I actually drove the same kind of race car in real life that Craig would drive in the film. It seemed to be fate that this role ended up being offered to me in the 11th hour of the casting process (by Casting Director, Scott Michael Dunn).

I had performed lead roles in a couple of commercials and several short films prior to Dog Days in the Heartland, but a lead role in a feature was something I’d never been offered. Acting was more of a bucket-list endeavor for me after a decade of regret following a missed opportunity when I was 20. Since filmmaking is a hobby for me, my approach has always been, ‘as long as it fits around my work schedule, I’m all-in.’ I realized early on that there is some great cinematic talent in the St. Louis area, and as a lifelong musician and performance artist, I’ve continued to be curious how deep this particular rabbit hole went. Dog Days was the deeper dive I had been looking for.

Making Dog Days was a wild (and wonderfully organic) ride; from doing my own stunt work alongside Super Late Model driver Gordy Gundaker, to driving a tractor on my family’s property, to hanging out with my fictional teammates in my real-life race garage, to waking up in my own bed during the opening scene of the film, Dog Days was as true-to-life and untainted as a movie gets. Every location was a found environment, full of actors and extras doing what they would normally do in their day-to-day, paying further homage to the story and docudrama essence of the film. Essentially, the actors were all playing extensions of themselves in one aspect or another, and in that regard, I look at the performance of those in the film, not as “acting”, but as “being.”

From meeting Writer/Director Chad Carpenter at 4am to drive an hour out of the city so we could get sunrise shots on-location, to making friends with countless members of the cast and crew, watching their dedication as they hustled in support of one another, consulting Chad for direction as I patiently awaited my chance to deliver my brief lines or actions ... the immersive nature of making a feature film left me enamored and starry-eyed. I was humbled by the process and by the dedication of everyone involved. It sparked a new interest in me; an interest in moving to the other side of the camera and learning the technical aspects of making a film.

Aside from a Sapporo commercial I was contracted for last fall, I’ve spent much of my time over the past year working on a feature film of my own, “1111”. Two friends and I have launched our own production company called Dark Village Films, and are midway through principal photography, planning to show the film publicly in November of 2018. We started with a scriptwriting exercise, which quickly escalated into casting, scheduling, and now shooting. We are handling all of the directing, filming, most of the audio and original scoring, post-production, and editing ourselves, and it has proven an incredible challenge! Scott Dunn has

remained a close friend, working together on many projects since Dog Days, and starring in “1111”, and Chad Carpenter has become one of my dearest friends, recently bringing me on board to assist with Middle West Movies’ marketing efforts for Dog Days (he will also be assisting with audio on the “1111” project). All of the other cast and crew I worked with on Dog Days have become close friends as well, even to the extent that my fictional father still calls me “son” and I still refer to him as “Pop”. Dog Days in the Heartland has left a lasting impression on me, and I’m forever grateful for the experience and all it has led to."






Dog Days in the Heartland Cast & Crew Profiles #6: Seth Ferranti

I went into Dog Days knowing that I wanted to be involved in film and thought it would be more behind the camera. But Chad cast me as a race car driver. It was pretty cool acting. I had just got out of prison after a lengthy sentence for drugs. I was a writer and had published several books, but acting was new to me. Very unique experience on set with the Dog Days cast and crew. I met some people that I still work with today.

I went on to write and produce WHITE BOY, which will be on iTunes on May 29. It's the story of Richard Wershe Jr. and his continued incarceration for 8 kilos of cocaine which he was convicted of as a juvenile. I am also working on four other film projects in various stages of completion as a writer, director, producer, and creator. Not sure if acting is in my future, but you never know.






Dog Days in the Heartland Cast & Crew Profiles #5: Alex Schwartz

My name is Alex Schwartz and I'm now 23 but we filmed Dog Days a while back. I'm a double below the knee amputee but my role was unrelated! It was such an awesome group of people and for an independent film, I felt it had a great production. It was very memorable being on set. Since my journey started I've been fortunate to be on higher budget sets since then, and Dog Days was just as memorable, fun and professional to film! I'm always up to different things you can watch on and


Dog Days in the Heartland Cast & Crew Profiles #3: Karen Druley

I loved working with everyone on “Dog Days”. Chad Carpenter invited me to audition and so I did. He ended up writing a part for me in the movie. I’m thankful to Middle West Movies for giving me the courage I needed to step outside my comfort zone & work with other movie companies. Since then I’ve acted in more movies, been an extra, did commercials, worked as movie crew. Summer 2017 I stepped into the world of Modeling. And now I’m also expanding into Vintage Pinup. More exciting projects coming with Acting, Vintage Pinup & Modeling. 

Acting & Modeling have been lifelong dreams of mine since I was a kid. After my mom died I realized how short life really is. It’s time to start fulfilling my dreams. I filmed my first movie in March 2015 and have been on the road to Dream Fulfillment ever since. My husband has become involved in all the things I do & is very supportive. The rest of my family is supportive but stay behind the scenes. 

One thing I love about Independent Films is that it offers everyone of every age, size, color an opportunity. I know people that started acting in independent films in their 60’s. There are people who want to move to Hollywood to do TV & Films. For me, I don’t see myself wanting to do that. I’m perfectly happy staying in the Midwest helping make Independent Films. And also working with all the talented people I get to. Making movies is a lot of work but so rewarding to see your finished project put together. 

Thank you for having us as a part of the Middle West Movies family. We look forward to the next projects with all of you. 

I post my Acting projects to my Acting Facebook Page. And I have an IMDB Page. I’d love to have new followers. 




Dog Days in the Heartland Cast & Crew Profiles #2: Tamitra Williford

Making an independent film takes a lot of time and funding, but more importantly, it takes a lot of passion and soul from so many creative and driven people. These are the stories from the cast & crew who made Dog Days in the Heartland what it is today. We ask them about working on the film, what independent film means to them and what they are up to now. Our second post is from Tamitra Williford, an actress & cast member who played the part of Barbra.

"At the risk of sounding like Oprah, I...LOVE…independent film. I love independent film. That is what attracted me to audition for the role of Barbra in Dog Days in the Heartland. Working on the film (and with Middle West Movies) taught me the value of creating an authentic character. Through my talent agency, I most recently did a commercial for SSM and an extra role in The Layover directed by William H. Macy. In the independent film Bad Grandmas, I played a shopper. This film was selected for the St. Louis International Film Festival. The cast and crew significantly feel the loss of Florence Henderson. I admire her final role choice which forced her fans to see her outside of the constructs of the Brady Bunch and as America’s mom."



Dog Days in the Heartland Cast & Crew Profiles #1: Patti Ryan

Making an independent film takes a lot of time and funding, but more importantly, it takes a lot of passion and soul from so many creative and driven people. These are the stories from the cast & crew who made Dog Days in the Heartland what it is today. We ask them about working on the film, what independent film means to them and what they are up to now. Our first post is from Patti Ryan, a line producer for the film.

"I'm Patti Ryan and I worked as the Line Producer for the movie; It was an unexpected honor. I met with Chad I think back in July of 2015 & over Mexican food and a couple beers he told me about the vision he had for the movie. It had only been a year since I had cancer treatments & was feeling adventurous. At the time, I owned a local video production company and had lost some of my work due to being engaged in cancer treatments, so I had the time. I told Chad that working on the movie was a bucket list item for me. I discovered WHAT a line producer did, AND that an independent movie set is an "all hands on deck" kind of thing. Through my local connections, I set up some locations, found accommodations for the crew, found some extra actors, made meals, purchased food, smokes and other important items for crew members. I learned two VERY important things: 1. Nothing is glamorous in movie making, especially at the independent level and 2. working crew on an independent film is for the YOUNG!! lol. Independent film is SO important today, it allows for ALL voices to be heard, not just those really well-funded ones. These days, I have, at 63, retired from the video production business and am strictly doing animation, my first love. You can follow my work at Grinning Bear Animation Studio on Vimeo and Youtube."