Regular "Joe"

how some local folks made a feature-length comedy

AJ Hakari

There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about what constitutes a truly independent film. For movies like Juno, all their creators need to do is slap together a couple of Moldy Peaches tunes, and boom, the street cred comes rolling in. But the quest to be seen by any sort of an audience is a bit harder for those like the makers of Illegal Use of Joe Zopp, who are out to prove that there’s more to their movie than just the soundtrack.

Zopp stars co-writer Nick Holle as the titular character, a regular schmoe beckoned back home after someone dies bearing his own name. If visions of the film being the love child of David Lynch and Napoleon Dynamite are dancing through your head, then you’re not too far off from what director/co-writer Sarah Rykal had in mind for the picture.

“The movie ... has some elements of mystery, but I think its overriding tone is one of subtle comedy,” Rykal said. This mindset was also shared by Holle and the other members of Wut Wut Alma Moving Pictures, the Chippewa Falls-based production company responsible for bringing Joe Zopp to life.

“We just wanted to come up with a compelling story that was funny along the way,” Holle said.

As the film’s cast and crew, comprised largely by those from the Chippewa Valley, would come to realize, making a homegrown movie serves as quite the learning experience.