Jim Kreutzer has been a filmmaker for more than 25 years.
So you expect him to love movies.
But when we talked about his passion for film, he stressed, “I like
movies — and I make nice movies.”
His latest nice movie is “Tommy’s Honour,” which tells the true story of golfing legends “Old Tom” Morris and his son, “Young Tom” Morris, who won several Open Championships in Scotland.
The film, scheduled to be released in theaters this spring, was screened on opening night at the Edinburgh Film Festival on June 15, 2016. The world premiere was a black-tie event, complete with a red carpet and about 1,500 people.
Kreutzer, who produced the film with his business partner, Keith Bank of Highland Park, Ill., was in Edinburgh with a special guest, his longtime friend, Dr. Ric Borman.
That friendship gave Kreutzer the inspiration to film “Tommy’s Honour,” based on a 2007 book at the Morrises.
“I got the idea for the movie after a trip to St. Andrews in Scotland with Ric,” Kreutzer said. Borman, a now-retired Kenosha physician, was diagnosed with ALS about six years ago.
“Ric was my physician, and I was feeling pretty helpless about the situation, so I said to Ric ‘let’s go to Scotland and play golf at St. Andrews,’ a mecca for golders.”
During the trip, Kreutzer bought Kevin Cook’s book “Tommy’s Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf’s Founding Father and Son.”
At the time, he said, “I had no intention of making another movie. I had done several films on a purely consultation basis — giving advice and guidance — but wasn’t producing anything on my own.” (Making movies “just takes too much time” says Kreutzer, whose “day job” is being an oral surgeon at his practice, at Southeast Wisconsin Endodontics Associates in Racine.)
Kreutzer was enchanted with the story “and I couldn’t believe no one had made a movie about this story. You couldn’t write this stuff — and it’s a true story! When I got back to the States, I called the author in New York and asked if the film rights were available.” (The book’s film rights had been optioned, but that agreement had just expired.)
Kreutzer and Borman — who were in the Philadelphia area on another golfing trip — met with Cook in person, and Kreutzer assured him the film would get made, saying, “I don’t option these things very often and when I do, I intend to make the film.”
When the movie “got off the ground and started filming in Scotland,” Kreutzer said, “Ric came over to Scotland to watch the filming of it. We both relaized it was an offshoot of this trip we took together, and Ric came over and said ‘this is a pinch me moment’ while watching the actors.”
Borman, Kreutzer added, “has a very slow form of ALS. Ric and I have flown all over on these ‘bucket list’ trips to different golf courses.”
Kreutzer was in Scotland for three months working on “Tommy’s Honour,” which was filmed in 13 locations in about 40 days of principal photography and pre- and post-production work — “a nice way to spend the summer of 2015,” Kreutzer said, laughing.
“Tommy’s Honour” will open in U.S. theaters in April, just after The Masters Tournament. The Golf Channel has aired a behind-the-scenes special on the movie; the program will also air March 25 on NBC.
It’s a golf movie, Kreutzer concedes, but he quickly adds, “My wife said ‘you know, I’d rather set my hair on fire than go see a golf movie,’ but there’s so much more to it. It’s a father/son story and a love story — you’ll walk out of the theater crying.”
Kreutzer has been in the movie business for more than two decades and has seen a lot of changes.
“You’d be surprised at how things change — but also stay the same,” he explained. “The formats are different — back in the 1980s, VHS was going to kill television; now the internet is going to kill DVDs sales — but the people running the business and the relationships you form are the same. Someone has to sell the film for you; someone has to dispay the film for you.
“I have good relationships with people I met 25 years ago, and you can get projects done if you maintain those relationships.”
Still, he stresses, getting all the moving parts together required for a film project is difficult at best.
“It’s hard enough to make a project; to make a
project is even tougher. I’m proud to be associated with ‘Honour.’ I believe it will be successful in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia.”
While Kreutzer works to get “Tommy’s Honour” into U.S. theaters, he’s also planning several new projects.
“I formed a company with a friend in California called King Hawk Multi-Media, a feature film and television company. We’re merging production and distribution companies. We have a lot of great ideas.”
His projects include a TV series in Scotland called “The Golf Explorer.” Roger McStravick, a golf historian and author, visits traditional and non-traditional golf locations across the U.K.
His next feature film project is “The Road Dance,” based on a novel by John Mackay and set on the Isle Of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland during World War I.
I’d like to make a film in the Kenosha area again,” he said, “but the tax credits and incentives to film in other locations make a difference. Doing indie films and even studio films, you have to work out how to recoup your funds.
“Filmmaking takes a great deal of time and energy,” he says, but — on a personal level — it’s worth it.
“Ric Borman is such a sweet, humble man. I’m completely convinced that golf and this ‘bucket list’ tour have kept him going. It’s a very emotional and personal moment for me, to have Ric around to see this movie.”
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What: The Chicago area premiere of “Tommy’s Honour”
When: April 13
Where: AMC River East cinema, 322 E. Illinois St. in Chicago
Cost: $125 per person
Event details: 5:30 p.m. reception at Bellwether Meeting House and Eatery (302 W. Illinois St.); 7:15 p.m. welcome; 7:30 p.m. movie; 9:30 p.m. live auction and Q&A with the movie’s actors, director and producers; 10 p.m. post-party
Benefit: The premiere event is a fundraiser for First Tee of Greater Chicago. The First Tee started as a way to bring an affordable junior golf program to youth and communities that did not have them. What The First Tee soon discovered was that blending the rules of the game with life and leadership skills, kids and teens didn’t just learn how to putt — they were learning important values.
For more information and to purchase tickets: www.thefirstteegreaterchicago.org
Stay tuned: For information about the movie’s debut in the Kenosha area
What: “Far and Sure: An Intimate Behind the Scenes Look at the Making of Tommy’s Honour”
When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday (March 25) on NBC
The film “Tommy’s Honour,” shot in Scotland in the fall of 2015, depicts the lives and careers of — and the complex relationship between — Scottish golfing legends “Old Tom” Morris and his son, “Young Tom” Morris.
Directed by Jason Connery (son of actor Sean Connery), the film stars Peter Mullan, Jack Lowden, Ophelia Lovibond and Sam Neill.
The screenplay was developed from Kevin Cook’s 2007 book, “Tommy’s Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf’s Founding Father and Son.” Cook’s book was one of five books Sports Illustrated selected as the Books of the Year in 2007.
Local dentist Jim Kreutzer has been developing and producing movies for about 25 years.
His other movies with local connections include:
1998 — “The Last Great Ride,’’ with a script written by local filmmaker Paul Chilsen. The movie was filmed in Kenosha, Twin Lakes and Burlington and stars Ernest Borgnine and Eileen Brennan. The movie, about a young boy visiting his grandmother for the summer, revolves around a hidden treasure, gangsters and a long-lost love.
1996 — “Just Write’’ was filmed in Hollywood and was financed by Kreutzer and others from Kenosha and Racine. The comedy is about a Hollywood tour bus driver (Jeremy Piven) who poses as a screenwriter to romance an up-and-coming young actress (Sherilyn Fenn).
1995 — The horror movie “Fever Lake’’ was filmed in Twin Lakes. The film is about a group of teenagers who drive to Fever Lake to spend the weekend in a cursed house near the lake. The cast includes Corey Haim and Mario Lopez.
“Tommy’s Honour” won Best Feature Film at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in Scotland awards ceremony.
Jack Lowden, who stars as “Young Tom” Morris in the film, was nominated for Best Actor in a Feature Film.
BAFTA Scotland “honors the best of film, television and games produced over the past year in Scotland.”
The film was also chosen as an opening night event at the 70th Edinburgh Film Festival in June. The world premiere was a black-tie event, complete with a red carpet and about 1,500 people.