- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Residents in the Middletown, Red Bank and West Long Branch areas may spot some A-list Hollywood stars in their backyards as “Miranda’s Victim” continues to film locally.
The film follows the crime and court case that led to the Miranda rights precedent ("You have the right to remain silent ... "). The star-studded cast includes Abigail Breslin, Andy Garcia, Donald Sutherland, Luke Wilson and more.
“This cast is not only A-list but also comprised of people who really care,” said director Michelle Danner. “They really brought their hearts into telling this story, and it shows in the work.”
Danner, a filmmaker (“Bad Impulse”, “The Runner”), performer and acting coach based out of Los Angeles, jumped at the opportunity to direct the film.
“I was made an offer and I immediately saw how important of a project this was and answered back that I was thrilled to do it,” she said.
The film’s production became especially timely when, two weeks into filming, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a new ruling that limits the potential for Miranda rights enforcement. The 6-3 decision determined that receiving one's Miranda warnings is not technically protected by the Constitution, and that police can no longer be civilly sued for failing to issue them.
“It was timely to begin with ... but even more so now. Justice and the flaws in our judicial system will always be timely, as well as how these legal decisions affect people’s lives,” Danner said.
The film follows Patricia Weir (Breslin), a rape and kidnapping survivor, as she fights to see her attacker convicted.
“Everyone knows Miranda rights but no one knows the story,” Danner said. “Patricia Weir was strong enough to pursue justice, even as a woman in the '60s without the support of her family. Despite all odds, she did the right thing at an enormous cost to her, and that story deserves to be shared.”
Danner feels a responsibility to tell this story well, and described the team’s decision to shoot the movie on film as contributing to that goal.
“Very rarely do people shoot on film these days because it’s expensive, but it’s making a comeback, and it elevates the movie," she said. "It makes it richer. I told myself if I ever was going to fight to shoot something on film, it would be this ... It’s a story that really warrants telling it in the best way possible.”
Despite a history of acting in movies she directs, Danner will not be making an appearance in "Miranda's Victim."
“I need to really be present and not skip a beat in my role as director," she said. "I’m detail-oriented and my attention needs to be there."
The decision to shoot in Monmouth County rather than somewhere more geographically similar to Phoenix, where the originalMiranda v. Arizonacase took place, was "a no brainer," Danner said.
The film’s writer and producer, Middletown resident George Kolber, said in a previous interview that the crew scouted shooting locations in New Mexico, but decided to shoot here since a majority of the scenes are filmed indoors. Monmouth County's historic buildings fit what the filmmakers were looking for.
“The Great Hall at Monmouth University, the old Middletown courthouse and the Count Basie (Center for the Arts) are all incredible,” said Danner. “They’re not only historic but unique locations. If we were shooting in Los Angeles or New Mexico or wherever else, we wouldn’t have access to these locations that are vital to the richness of making this movie.”
Another factor was New Jersey’s recent tax credit expansion for film, television and digital media productions to incentivize high-profile projects to come to the Garden State.
The film wraps up shooting in the area on July 7. It is being submitted to the Sundance Film Festival in September, and is expected to be released in 2023.
Several distributors have shown interest in the project, Danner said.
“It’s always very vulnerable, doing a project like this one,” she said, “but everyone around is so excited.”
Intern Pari Walter of Monmouth Beach is a rising junior at the University of Miami.
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Miranda's Victim movie by Michelle Danner continues in Monmouth County