Locally shot feature Renee will open the 2012 Florida Film Festival. While it is not the first Florida film to ever open the festival in its over 20 years of existence, it is the first Orlando film to do so.
True, The Blair Witch Project opened the festival in 1999, but that was shot in Maryland even though the production team was from Orlando. The other Florida produced film was Sunshine State, opening the fest in 2002, which was shot in Amelia Island and Jacksonville.
The story of Renee was based on the life experiences of Renee Yohe, at the time a 19 year old girl suffering from depression with addictions to drugs and cutting. She was the inspiration for the charity group To Write Love on Her Arms.
Renee was shot in Orlando in February and March 2011. Playing Renee is Kat Dennings who can be seen on CBS' 2 Broke Girls and she was also the "tea kettling" daughter from The 40 Year Virgin. Other named talent include Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill) and Rupert Friend (The Young Victoria).
The story was put to paper by Kate King Lynch, a UCF graduate. Renee was directed by Nathan Frankowski (Expelled). The production team consisted of David McKenna, who is a music producer in Orlando and friend of the real Renee Yohe, Kim Dawson, who produced the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies in the 90's and the more recent Letters to God, and David Nixon, who produced and directed Letters to God.
Like many films in Central Florida, this team employed Ralph Clemente's students and equipment from the Valencia College Film Program. They also used Full Sail students and post production equipment for editing. Special effects were provided by The Dave School. In addition to the student workforce, local professionals included Cinematographer Stephen Campbell, Production Designer Mark Garner, Costume Designer Beverly Safier, and Line Producer Paul Sirmons.
Renee's screening is Friday, April 13th at 7pm at the Regal Cinemas in Winter Park. The Opening Night Party follows immediately at the Enzian Theater in Maitland.
This is the second public exhibition for Renee. It screened at the Omaha Film Festival in March.