Lincoln folk singer Andrea von Kampen becomes an actress in “A Chance Encounter”.
Andrea von Kampen was in Portland, Oregon, making a music video when director Alexander Jeffrey made her an offer.
“He pitched this idea of a mumblecore movie about a musician and would I be interested in being a part of it,” von Kampen said. “I agreed to do the soundtrack. Then it was ‘So is there any way you would like to play in it?’ I am a songwriter. I am not an actor. I acted a bit in high school and did a bit of college theater.
“When I said I would, I was ‘What did I sign up for?'”
What she signed up for was a few weeks in Italy to shoot the film, to figure out how to act – “It was a baptism of fire, for sure” – as one of the protagonists of “A Chance Encounter,” the romantic drama written by Jeffrey and Omaha native Paul Petersen, co-starring von Kampen.
The folksinger from Lincoln plays Josie Day, an American singer-songwriter who stays at a villa in the Sicilian town of Taormina, where she has an unexpected writing retreat with an aspiring poet, played by Petersen.
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The film was shot, almost entirely, on location in Taormina in the fall of 2019, just months before COVID-19 shut down film production around the world.
“We weren’t that many there,” von Kampen said. “It’s the definition of a low-budget independent film. It’s so beautiful. It’s definitely one of the nicest places I’ve been. I think people feel like it’s was a vacation. But it wasn’t. You’re in this beautiful place putting in more hours of work a day than you’ve ever done in your life.
This job basically consisted of setting up, rehearsing and shooting a scene, then switching to another setup as quickly as possible as many times as possible during workdays that lasted 12 hours or more.
Not only was von Kampen figuring out how to act on the spot, she was doing it in front of uninvited audiences every time they shot through the streets and squares of the quaint town that is the mecca of summer tourism.
“We thought all the tourists would have left by then. They weren’t,” she said. “So pretty much every scene shot outdoors, there were hundreds of people watching. Every scene.
“It got to the point where when I was walking down the street or something, he would give me a signal and I would start walking and trying to blend in naturally so they wouldn’t know we were spinning and ruining the scene.”
The final scenes of “A Chance Encounter” take place in the United States, supposedly in Iowa. But fans of Nebraska live music will know, with a little study, where that final scene was shot.
“It’s the slowdown,” von Kampen said. ” It’s really funny. One of the scenes in Italy where Hal goes to the bathroom is the Slowdown bathroom. If you look closely, you can see American dating.
Von Kampen crafted the songs that make up the film’s soundtrack over several months, beginning before the trip to Italy and ending after the film was shot.
“I knew Josie must have had a bad song for that first scene, so I wrote it first,” she said. “Then the rest came from the script, which said ‘slow song for editing’. ‘Time and Space’, the last song I wrote after we got back, about what the characters had been through.
Four of von Kampen’s great songs, along with his versions of Stephen Foster’s 19th century classic “Hard Times” and the timeless “Goodnight, Ladies”, were released as the EP “A Chance Encounter: An Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” on October 21. by Fantasy Records.
“A Chance Encounter” had its theatrical and on-demand release a week ago.
At that time, she got to see most of the finished product and, she said, it caused some unease.
“I saw most of the way to the end,” she said. “I’m really uncomfortable looking at myself.”
That said, von Kampen said she would play again, if it was in a more controlled and less improvisational setting.
“I love the movie business and would consider doing it again,” von Kampen said. “I would love to write another soundtrack. Film and music can collaborate in many ways. But above all, I am a singer-songwriter. I really consider myself a folk singer.
Like artists of all levels, she was encountering the harsh economic realities of touring in 2022, with high gas and accommodation prices squeezing incomes that, for the most part, are below pre-pandemic levels.
“It’s definitely a tough decision to come out, there’s the monetary cost,” she said. “But there’s this huge opportunity every time you go out.”
But von Kampen, who released his fantasy-distributed debut album ‘That Spell’ last year, has since toured extensively.
“It’s a weird time,” she said. “The music industry is in a state of flux. COVID has really impacted the industry as a whole, and it’s coming out of it now. For me, I would say the momentum is still building and staying the course is the right thing to do.
And, von Kampen said, playing shows is the reward for all the hard work that comes before, especially when she connects with those who have heard her songs on streaming services and then come to see her in person.
“Connecting with the audience is the best part of the job,” she said. “You spend so much time alone, writing and recording, and then you go out and connect with a room full of people and realize that’s the whole point of what you’re doing.”
Von Kampen’s tour ended this weekend. So she could head home for a Sunday afternoon appearance at the Ross Media Arts Center, which is one of the few theaters showing “A Chance Encounter,” mostly a streaming release.
She will be at the Ross after the film screening at 1:30 p.m., where she will answer questions from the public about the film and her career.
“And I think I’ll sing a few songs,” she said. “I was told to bring my guitar.”
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Contact the writer at 402-473-7244 or [email protected] On Twitter @KentWolgamott