Clubhouse / Production Story

Clubhouse deals with nefarious plots made against the life and property of a wheelchair-bound Iraq War vet living in his family’s magnificent old Southern home. Some of the plots are cooked up by the vet’s so-called friends, and one is hatched by a corrupt politician. Shapochka filmed Clubhouse on location with a local crew, including his regular cinematographer David Brower, and a mix of Alabama local and Hollywood actors. The film’s successful completion is another example of how Shapochka, who grew up behind what we used to call the Iron Curtain, has flourished in the Deep South producing films.

Clubhouse is inspired by events in the life of Shapochka’s close friend Bob McKenna, who — like the lead character in Clubhouse — uses a wheelchair and lives in a beautiful century-old house.

According to Shapochka, McKenna “is a very spiritual, inspirational character himself, and so from my conversations with him and episodes from his life, and people I met at his house, I had this idea. It’s a loose adaptation of some events. However, it is 100 percent fiction. I didn’t make a point to make a documentary or life story, but I took some quotes and episodes, and Bob helped us with the location.”

Production Notes

The Clubhouse script “started out as a revenge story,” Brower says. “But as Yuri gets to writing it, it becomes a commentary on the society and life in general. It couldn’t be just a simple revenge play.” Brower adds, “The funny thing about Clubhouse is that there are moments in that script that are totally unbelievable that come out of real life. Nobody would believe it, but in fact it actually happened.” Shapochka offers high praise for Brower, who has 30 years of experience in high-end commercial work and recently photographed two indie features for other directors.

“I have this absurdist view on the world, and it’s never easy to express things that way, and David supports me all the way in realizing and presenting this style,” Shapochka says, adding, “The way he does his lighting is like poetry.” Shapochka “almost can’t help but turn anything into a dark comedy, which I love,” Brower says. “He embraces absurdity. He’s not afraid of it. It’s a way of magnifying reality so you see it for what it is.”

Behind the Scenes

Veteran TV and film actor Tim Abell portrays Robert, the Iraq War vet, in Clubhouse. Abell met Shapochka on the Los Angeles set of the film Cross in 2011. It was about a year later when Shapochka sent Abell the Clubhouse script. The actor was impressed: “One thing I liked about the script is that there are scenes that come out of nowhere and are so unexpected.”

Abell was also struck by the range of Shapochka’s vision. “It was a story of good and evil, of greed, of pride and lust, of almost every sin you could imagine,” he says. “The true nature of man is really what this is about — the goodness of one man and the other people who can’t accept what he is trying to give them.”

Abell became an actor and co-producer on the film and helped convince veteran actors Leslie Easterbrook (the Police Academy series,The Devil’s Rejects) and Christopher Murray (Saving Grace, The West Wing) to take part. Murray’s brother, Sean, a composer who wrote music for a recent Call of Duty game and numerous films, created the score.

Leslie Easterbrook says she thought Clubhouse was the best script she had read in a long time. “The audience doesn’t know where you’re going in every scene,” she says by phone from her Southern California home. “Nothing is ever what it seems on the surface. The characters are complex… and it says so much about human nature.”

About the Cast