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Oxford High alumnus' 'Cadia: The World Within' picked up by Amazon, Vudu

Kurt Anthony Krug
Special to The Detroit News

   After five regional screenings in Michigan and Ohio, filmmaker Zach Throne is equal parts relieved and excited that the independent movie he co-produced is being distributed throughout the United States via streaming platforms Amazon and Vudu.

“We are also hoping to launch with Dish in the near future… I’m so happy to showcase all the talent of the cast and crew and those who tirelessly put their best efforts into this film. They deserve it. I hope that people are able to enjoy the story we wanted to show. We are hoping that this release can show that a small indie film has the potential to keep up with the major motion pictures,” said Throne, an Oxford High School alumnus, who served as co-executive producer of “Cadia: The World Within.”

Throne, of Ohio, is the financial director of Just a Skosh Productions, LLC in Columbus, Ohio, which released “Cadia.” His wife, Krystal, also an Oxford high graduate, is the production secretary of “Cadia.” His parents, Tim (the superintendent of Oxford Community Schools) and Stephanie, served as the executive producers of “Cadia.”

 “When this world began, it existed only in my head. To know that so many people will be able to see this film and celebrate the incredible work of this brilliant cast and crew – the talented artists that brought the world of Cadia out of my head and into reality – is incredibly humbling and special to me,” said  “Cadia” writer/director Cedric Gegel.

Carly Sells, left, Keegan Sells, Zach Throne, Tanner Sells, and Cedric Gegel. The Sells siblings are triplets who play triplets in “Cadia: The World Within,” where Throne is the co-executive producer and Gegel is the writer/director.

In “Cadia,” the main characters are 14-year-old triplets Matthew, Renee, and David – played by actual triplets Tanner, Carly, and Keegan Sells, respectively. In fact, Gegel wrote the story around the Sells triplets, who are Ohio-based stage actors, said Throne. After the death of their mother, the triplets discover a gateway to a mystical, C.S. Lewis-esque realm called Cadia (named after Arcadia, Michigan), which they enter. In order to return home, they must overcome the malevolent forces that rule it.

“Cadia” also stars Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Corbin Bernsen, best known for his roles on the TV series “L.A. Law” and “Psych” and the three “Major League” films, and James Phelps, who’s best known for playing George Weasley in the “Harry Potter” films. Bernsen portrays George, the triplets’ grandfather. Phelps portrays Tanion, a mystical force in Cadia who offers the triplets a choice that’s greater than themselves.

“(Their) journey into this mystical realm teaches them about grace, love, doubt, and the nature of good versus evil,” said Throne. “‘Cadia’ is a film that provides hope and encourages philosophical discussion on how we interact with the world around us. It’s an adventure that will get people to believe in each other and in the world again.”

In addition to his duties as co-executive producer, Throne has a small role as Mike.

“Mike was a fun, little-appearing character I got to showcase,” he said. “I started my artistic career in acting, so it was fun to jump into that role again. If you keep your eye out near the end of the film, you may be able to spot me.” 

Throne spoke about getting Bernsen and Phelps to appear in “Cadia.”

“As funny as it sounds, we contacted their agents, sent them the script, and it was off to the races,” he said. “Very early on, we knew that if we could obtain some bigger name talent, Corbin and James would be at the top of the list. We are beyond grateful that Corbin and James decided to join us in this endeavor.”

“I’m very, very happy for all those involved,” said Bernsen. “It’s a wonderful little movie. It’s a nice escape for the moment. I actually think the film benefited from everything going on. Typically, a smaller film like this – even with myself in it and a couple others – can just get lost in the shuffle if you’re in the middle of ‘Star Wars’ and all the other (blockbuster movies).”

According to Bernsen, it was the love of the craft of acting – something his mother, the late Jeanne Cooper, who was on the soap “The Young and the Restless” from 1973 to 2013, passed on to him – that wanted him to be in “Cadia.”

“There was just something that said, ‘Do this.’ Every representative I have asked, ‘What are you doing, man? You’re going to Columbus, Ohio for’… I’m not gonna name the amount of money but it wasn’t much. I said, ‘I don’t know. I just feel it.’ I got there for a couple of days and enjoyed it,” recalled Bernsen. “Also, there were kids on the set and thought it was a good opportunity for me to bring my professionalism to a set that might not have that experience.”

Bernsen completed his role in two days.

“I saw the opportunity to be the voice of wisdom and reassurance, which by having me there tells the audience it’s legitimate. It also legitimizes the kids’ journey. It validates their journey and lets people go off with them on a fantasy. I anchored reality, which all those things need by the way. Even ‘Star Wars’ has to be rooted in reality if you’re to believe they’re flying through space with Darth Vader after them,” he explained.

Bernsen praised Gegel.

“Cedric was just so impassioned about filmmaking. (When I first arrived), I was a little bit worried because it was filmed on basically a 35mm camera... However, he had complete knowledge of it. He was in complete control of what he was doing. I hope this gives him an opportunity to grow a bit (as a filmmaker),” said Bernsen. “The quality blew me away when I saw it. This thing looked great. They did all this on a shoestring (budget)… Add a little bit of passion in there and it stood out.”

Added Throne: “If someone is looking for a fun, family-friendly movie, this is their movie!”

Both Throne and Bernsen spoke about how the coronavirus pandemic affected “Cadia.”

“As with anything this year, yes, the film was impacted by the pandemic. We originally had a release set in March; however, that was when COVID-19 decided to make its appearance,” said Throne. “As with all films this year, we had to postpone with the new climate of not just the world, but the film industry as well. Our distributor and sales agent have been working tirelessly to get this film out, and we appreciate their efforts.”

Bernsen believed the pandemic worked to the film’s advantage.

“It’s not gonna get buried among ginormous films. At the end of the day, people will look at it and say, ‘This is good.’ It deserves everything that’s gonna happen to it. I think it’ll be a surprise player. Amazon’s a good place for it… Amazon doesn’t pick up crap. That should be a seal of approval in and of itself.”

'Cadia: The World Within'

streaming on Amazon and Vudu