Arts & Entertainment

Zeke Zelker debuts ‘Billboard’ at The Strand Theatre

By Heather Gursky
Arts and Entertainment Editor

After 10 years in the making, Pennsylvania-born director, screenwriter and producer Zeke Zelker is ready to debut his fourth film “Billboard.” The film was inspired by the 1982 billboard sitting that took place in Allentown.

However, Zelker was intrigued by the behind-the-scenes action, wanting to highlight the “inner workings of an indie radio station” rather than focusing on the event itself. The movie was completely filmed in the Northampton, Lehigh and Berks County areas.

Zelker’s depiction of the event follows Casey Lindeweiler, who inherits a radio station from his father. When realizing the business is in financial turmoil, he thinks of a crazy way to save it. Even after creating this sit-in event, Lindeweiler stills deals with great pressure from his competition and his community.

In history, sit-ins were known as a way of pacifistically protesting. Originally, in 1982, there were three men who lived on top of a billboard for 261 days — through severe weather and major holidays. There they had proper necessities to eat, sleep and communicate with the outside world.

Along with the movie, Zelker has created a cine-experience. This experience gives the content of his movie multiple outlets. He also gives his viewers different perspectives on the 1982 event.

One part of the experience is the virtual radio station, WTYT960.com. Zelker’s intentions were to give “something fans can get involved with.” Since 2011, he added, the station has gained great success. You can follow WTYT 960 on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and various other platforms today.

“Billboard” – Photo courtesy of Zeke Zelker

Zelker also created a web series called “The Billboard Sitters.” Here, “Billboard” fans can watch nine episodes of “a solar-powered live feed from the contest that captures the lives of the four people,” according to the website.

When asked what his favorite part of the film was, Zelker remarked on how complexly the film was made. Because of the different layers added into the film, he says, “You can talk about it afterward and have a unique conversation based on the different viewpoints given by the movie.”

On April 6, at the ACME in Lambertville, Zelker held a dinner and discussion after the premiere of “Billboard.” The movie also made its debut at the Greater Lehigh Valley Film Festival from April 5–11. Zelker made an appearance on the 5th for a Q&A. The movie was also premiered at the Movie Tavern theatres in Exton, Trexlertown, Collegeville and Flourtown as well.

A portrait of filmmaker Zeke Zelker by Elaine Zelker “Billboard” cover image courtesy of iDreamMachine

Kutztown was chosen to be amongst the local theatres to premiere the new film because of the contribution past students have made towards Zelker’s project, as well. Those who worked on the film are KU graduates Owen Dietrich, Carli Meehan and Kaitlyn O’Connor.

 

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

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