An independent feature film planned to be shot on Whidbey Island this fall is on hold after the movie was unable to secure a marquee Hollywood actor.
Joseph Itaya, the movie’s producer and director, had hoped to begin production of a children’s adventure film called “Lost & Found” in Coupeville in October, however the project hinged on landing notable big-screen acting talent that didn’t materialize.
Itaya, a graduate of South Whidbey High School who now lives in Los Angeles, is still pressing forward to keep alive his dream of turning a screenplay he wrote in college into a motion picture.
Itaya restructured the movie’s script and changed the role of a main character to make the film more alluring to established actors.
He said he revised the story by making two scripts, one set in the summer and the other during the holiday season, extending the possibilities of when shooting could occur. The movie originally was to be set in the summer.
“There are so many things out of my control,” Itaya said. “I can only do the things in my control. One of those things in my control is the story, the characters, the script and planning, things of that nature.”
“Basically, there are two different sets of blueprints at this point. One is a summer blueprint, one is a Christmas blueprint. There are so many different elements. It really just depends on which one comes together first.”
Itaya had laid the groundwork for the movie to begin production in October, gaining approval to shoot at the Coupeville Wharf and at Fort Casey. He also held an audition in Coupeville that drew roughly 100 local actors looking to get a small part in the movie.
“I saw some wonderful talent,” Itaya said.
“Everybody was so positive. It was really a magical day. We’re like a cruise ship. We’re just in neutral.”
Itaya calls “Lost & Found” his lifetime dream project. He wrote the screenplay as his senior thesis at the University of Southern California.
“No one wants it (to happen) more than me,” he said.
The movie is based on two brothers visiting their uncle on a remote island. While on the island, they uncover secrets about their grandfather and hidden wealth, and come across clues to go find it. But they’re not alone in their pursuit as they deal with sinister forces in their way.
Although Itaya revised the setting and changed the uncle’s character some to be more appealing to actors, the main themes of the story didn’t change.
“We tell a story about a family that was broken and needs to heal,” Itaya aid. “There are an infinite number of ways to tell that story.”
Itaya is one of four Los Angeles-based producers working to make the movie happen. He has returned to Los Angeles, where he produces commercials, music videos, records and corporate industrial videos, and also runs his own music academy.
He’ll continue to try to land the sort of Hollywood actor that will set his picture in motion on Whidbey Island. The entire film revolves around securing a known actor and having everything fall into place around that actor’s availability.
“It is actually not the exception, it’s the rule that a movie schedule gets pushed and adjusted because you have to have all your ducks totally in a row.
“When you’re using movie star talent, when you book their talent, it’s booked. It has to get done.”
Itaya said that being a producer is much more “blue collar” than one might think.
“The film just has so many elements: weather, the cast and financing,” he said. “The list just goes on and on.
“While it’s painful and really hard for me personally, at the same time, that’s the nature of life and the nature of dreams. You just keep pressing on.
“As long as you keep pressing on, and keep rowing due west, then eventually you will make it to the promised land.”
And he plans to get there. Hopefully sooner than later, he said.
“This is everything to me.”
To read more about the movie project and view a trailer, go to www.lostandfoundmovie.net