“There is a certain amount of hometown pride in showing the film here in Las Vegas,” said Jerry Thompson, co-director of “Popovich and the Voice of the Fabled American West.” The locally made film is set for its first showing in Las Vegas at 1:20 p.m. Aug. 3 inside the Inspire Theater, 107 Las Vegas Blvd. South, as part of the seventh annual Las Vegas Film Festival.
Thompson, the co-owner of Light Forge Studios and a Centennial Hills resident, said the film showing downtown brings him a sense of pride in that it was written, produced and edited in Las Vegas.
“It’s cool that the movie was written and shot here,” he said. “I get really emotionally invested in movies that were done here because it’s just something you don’t see very often. We are even excited that it is showing downtown, because a lot of the scenes take place there.”
According to Thompson, while many famous films have a Las Vegas component, in that part of the plot takes place in the valley, sometimes only parts are filmed here or not at all.
In the case of “Popovich and the Voice of the Fabled American West,” however, the 90-minute feature film tells a story that takes place in Las Vegas and is relatable not just to entertainers and performers but also to the populace in general.
“The general theme is really about not giving up and pursuing your dreams and persevering in our goals and staying positive when you don’t have a lot of reasons to do it,” Thompson said.
The film stars real-life Las Vegas performer Gregory Popovich, who formerly performed in the Moscow State Circus. The fictional film is based on his real world talents and recasts the headliner as a struggling street performer. When he and his junkyard full of stray animals get into trouble, he and his animal buddies must put their best circus tricks to work to save their junkyard home and themselves.
“The story has the spirit of a true tale,” said Jerry’s brother, Mike Thompson, who is also part-owner of Light Forge Studios and co-director of the film. “The star of the film is Gregory Popovich, who is a fifth-generation circus performer and has his own show at Planet Hollywood.”
Mike said the brothers got the idea about a film starring Popovich a few years back while working on promoting material for “The World Famous Popovich Comedy Pet Theater.”
“We always thought that if we someday came up with a cool story line, it would show Popovich’s amazing talents,” Mike Thompson said. “So we wrote the script and went for it.”
Popovich is also a licensed animal trainer, who performs with animals at his show. The animals also acted in the movie and are a central part of the plot.
“All the animals are rescues,” Jerry Thompson said. “I have worked with Popovich a lot for seven or eight years and have seen that the animals all really love him. He uses all positive reinforcement techniques and doesn’t force them to do things they don’t want to do.”
The film is family-friendly and accessible to all ages. It won the Audience Choice Award at the Dances with Films festival at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood about a month ago. Most of the questions at the festival came from children, Mike Thompson said.
“It is just a fun, feel-good movie that is pretty universal to all audiences,” Jerry said. “I am just now really excited that people here, who have been a part of our lives, get to watch it.”
For those unable to watch the movie at the festival, two additional screenings are planned at 5 p.m. Aug. 30 and 31 at the Palms, 4321 W. Flamingo Road.
“They are extremely supportive of the local film community, and they give us a really great deal,” Mike Thompson said about the Palms. “We are definitely very proud to screen there also. There aren’t very many places to screen independent films like this.”
After the film is screened, the Thompsons will look to attain a distribution deal to make it available for general purchase. For more information, visit popovichmovie.com.
Contact reporter Maria Agreda at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @mjfagre.