Kirkwood native coming home to make movie this fall

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Moviemaker Dax Phelan will be coming back to his hometown this year to shoot his second feature film, appropriately titled “Kirkwood.

A graduate of MICDS High School (class of 1994), Phelan plans to use STL locations to film his suspense thriller.

The movie is based on a story he wrote with his father, Joe Phelan, a former St. Louis police officer. It tells of a former police detective and his estranged teenage son growing closer as they work together to cover up an accidental murder. 

“Although I’ve made films all over the world, I’ve always dreamed of one day coming home to Missouri to make something personal with my family and friends,” Phelan said.

His father, who retired from the city police department and then served as assistant chief in Lake St. Louis in the early 1980s, splits his time between Mississippi and STL.

And his aunt, Nancy Phelan, still lives here along with a number of old friends, he said.

Phelan said he grew up in the Windsor Acres subdivision in south Kirkwood, just west of Vianney High.

“When I was back recently scouting locations, I realized Kirkwood has really changed. And some of the streets weren’t going to work for that small-town look,” he said. “So we’re looking at other places too, like in Webster Groves and surrounding areas.

After leaving St. Louis, Phelan earned two bachelor’s degrees from Southern Methodist University and a master’s degree from the American Film Institute.

In 2015, Phelan made his directing debut with “Jasmine,” which he also wrote and produced.

Shot in Hong Kong, the suspense thriller played in 75 film festivals worldwide — including the St. Louis International Film Festival. After making a haul of festival “best” trophies, the film was released theatrically in June 2017.

Phelan also co-produced Orson Welles’s final film, “The Other Side of the Wind.” Welles made the film in the 1970s, but it remained unreleased until 2018. It garnered major awards from both the National Board of Review and the National Society of Film Critics.

Last year, he was included in the L.A. Film Awards’ list of “Thirty Filmmakers to Watch.”