Thanks to a wealthy entrepreneur, an artistic vision and a strong work ethic, a group of Port Republic-based friends started a production company, wrapped their first feature film and are no longer working mundane jobs.

Under the leadership of Linwood's Jeff Krawczyk, Port Republic's Jason Krawczyk, Dan Hagen, Zach Hagen and Jason Howell, Ocean City's Neal Bellinger and Mays Landing's Jon Cranmer formed Alternate Endings Studio. The company recently finished filming "The Briefcase" starring Kip Pardue ("Rules of Attraction," "Remember the Titans"), Vincent Pastore ("The Sopranos") and up-and-comer Keith Nobbs ("The Pacific").

The film is directed and written by Jason Krawczyk, who encouraged his father, Jeff, to support his passion after studying film at Monmouth University and the New York Film Academy.

"The Briefcase" is a story about how far one young man will go to find his missing father. Handcuffed to a mysterious stranger and on the run from mobsters in the Pinelands of southern New Jersey, the film's main character realizes that his life is connected to the man fastened to him by more than just the handcuffs.

"All of us have performing arts backgrounds, but we were all working 9-to-5 jobs when our boss came through for us to start this company," Bellinger said. "It was a blast. It was important for us to get known actors in the film because we didn't just want to make it, we want to sell it. And the first question is always, 'Who's in it?'"

The film is being edited in the company's New York City office and should be ready for the fall. AES, which also makes commercials, is hoping for a distribution deal of the independent film.

Short Stories

"Ice Grill, USA," an independent film with many local ties, recently took the award for Best Feature at Philadelphia's Urban Suburban Film Festival. The 100-minute film was shot on location in and around Atlantic City. Directors and creators Greg Santarsiero, of Bucks County, Pa., and Mark Bernardi, of Queens, N.Y., were inspired in part by their working-class upbringings in Brigantine when making the film, which is about a man trying to navigate the seedy underbelly of the Atlantic City casino industry. ... Hammonton's Jamey Colasurdo, Kaitlyn LoDuca, Maddie Mortelliti, Sarah Peretti, Mary Frances Reitmeyer and Danica Rudnesky won a platinum medal after competing in the DanceXplosion Talent Tour's National Finals on July 8 in Wildwood. The girls completed a routine to "That's Not My Name" by the Ting Tings in the Petite Jazz Extreme small group division. The platinum medal was the second-highest award given at the competition. The group is from the Dance Magic Petite Junior Dance Company, out of Dance Magic instruction academy in Hammonton. They are taught by Hammonton's Dawn Baldwin. ... The Ocean City Fine Arts League recently announced the winners of its June art competition, "Pathways." Ocean City's Sarah Beth Groff (Best in Show, Best in Category - Pastel), Somers Point's Annette Maynard (Best in Category - Mixed Media), Egg Harbor Township's Marian Amann (Best in Category - Photography) and Ocean City's Frank Pandolfo (Best in Category - 3D) were among the winners.

Short Stories compiled by Emily Brill.

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