The State Journal Register
The State Journal Register
February 25, 2015
By Steven Spearie
Posted Feb. 25, 2015 at 10:01 PM
Paul Sorvino plays a police commander determined to find his daughter,
Fiona Dourif, and get her off the streets in Precious Mettle. Photo courtesy of
JACKSONVILLE -- Leonard Brink joked that
he didn't even know how to spell "feature
film" when he signed on several years ago as
a co-writer, producer and executive producer
for the project "Precious Mettle".
What started out as a short film by his nowcollaborator, Edmond Coisson, eventually
attracted the likes of Paul Sorvino
(“Goodfellas,” “Nixon”), Matt Bushell
(“Leatherheads”) and Todd Bridges
(“Diff'rent Strokes”). This weekend, Brink, a
1966 graduate of Illinois College now living in
Naperville, brings a final version of the film
to Jacksonville's Illinois Theater for
screenings Sunday and Monday.
The 71-year-old Brink had made a lone documentary about his own Vietnam War experience prior to jumping into
"Precious Mettle," a drama about a police commander (Sorvino) determined to help his newly-identified heroin-addicted
daughter (Fiona Dourif from “The Master” and “True Blood”) while simultaneously investigating the murder of his best
friend (Bushell) and the disappearance of his gold.
"I was always interested in film, but never in a million years thought I'd do anything in it," said the 71-year-old Brink, who
owned two health care-related businesses before eyeing retirement in 2007.
Brink took screenwriting and even crime scene management courses to prep for the film. Having participated in about 100
clinical case studies while earning a master's degree in social work at Tulane University after interning at the Illinois State
Mental Hospital -- later the Jacksonville Developmental Center -- helped with the story's background, he said.
"We tried to make an authentic movie," said Brink. "It's a good, tough, gritty, engaging film."
"Precious Mettle" was shot in Aurora and Naperville, said Brink, and used extras from Illinois College, including head
football coach Garrett Campbell and his 7-year-old daughter, Hayden; development director Julie Wilkinson and Samir
Adrissi, a 2014 IC graduate who served as production intern for the film.
In more recent years, Brink said he's grown closer to Illinois College, where he played football and majored in psychology
(with a minor in English), and still counts several of his 1966 classmates as friends.
Launchpad into adulthood
During next week's trip to Jacksonville, Brink plans on talking to several English classes about his writing experiences. He
has an eye on possibly starting a film school at Illinois College.
"Illinois College was my launching pad to adulthood," said Brink.
A product of Proviso East High School in Maywood, Brink said he and a brother, as small children, stole coal from a local
coal yard to feed a pot-belly stove, the family's only source of heat. After his parents died, Brink lived in an orphanage,
cobbling together scholarships and grants to go to college.
"It was like out of Charles Dickens," said Brink.
The screening of "Precious Mettle," said Brink, is a way of giving back to Illinois College and Jacksonville. The feedback
from the exit polls, said Brink, will also help determine some of the film's marketing strategies.
"It's not every day," added Bryan Leonard, the college's acting media relations coordinator, "that a town like Jacksonville
gets an opportunity to view a big screen movie before its national release. I think those who participate will not only enjoy
the film but will enjoy the process of meeting Leonard Brink, learning more about the filmmaking process and expressing
their thoughts about the movie."
"It's going to be fun," said Brink, "to share something I've invested a huge amount of time, money and commitment
Screening of 'Precious Mettle'
When: 6:45 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Sunday; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday
Where: Illinois Theater, 204 No. Mauvaisterre St., Jacksonville
Sunday's screenings will be introduced by co-writer, producer and executive producer Leonard Brink and co-writer and
director Edmond Coisson. Brink and Coisson will take part in question-and-answer sessions following Sunday's
-- Contact Steven Spearie: [email protected], [email protected], facebook.com/steven.spearie.
Jacksonville Journal Courier
February 26, 2015
One really couldn’t blame Leonard Brink for deciding to retire and take it easy for a bit.
After all, the Illinois College alum — Class of 1966 — had a less-than-easy childhood
growing up in Chicago, spent a couple of years in the infantry during the Vietnam War
and then, armed with an education in psychology and English, had a long and successful
career in health care.
One really couldn’t be blamed for wondering if Brink knows how to take it easy,
considering he’s spending his retirement teaching himself the ins and outs of the movie
business, starting with tackling producing and co-writing roles on the independent film
“I thought this would be an interesting project,” Brink said Tuesday during a phone
interview ahead of the film’s screening Sunday and Monday at the Illinois Theater in
downtown Jacksonville. “I was looking at my investment portfolio and wanted
something with more control.”
About the same time, Brink had been working on getting a documentary about his
Vietnam experience submitted to the Naperville Independent Film Festival when he met
director Edmond Coisson and his wife, Glessna, who share co-writing credits on
“Precious Mettle” and created the festival.
Paul Sorvino stars as a cop
leading the investigation into a
mob killing and some missing gold
in the thriller “Precious Mettle.”
He was told his film was “good material, but you need to do several things to get it up to
where it would be considered” as a festival entry, Brink said. “Every Saturday from 6
a.m. to 6 p.m., I re-edited it.”
When he resubmitted it, his film — which he describes as more of a personal memoir than a documentary — was accepted.
Brink soon found out about a project on which the Coissons were working, a short film about a Chicago cop who is set to
retire when his best friend is robbed and killed. The cop also learns about an adult daughter he didn’t know he had and
has to try to help her resolve her problems, including heroin addiction.
“Overall, it’s a story about people who have been victimized
and are trying to recover, to find redemption, to find
justice,” Brink said.
He decided he wanted in. He could have just handed over
the funding, sat back and let someone else call the shots,
but Brink wanted more out of the project. Believing his
health care background could add some realism to the
depiction of the daughter’s heroine addiction, he also
became a co-writer.
“I had to expedite my learning curve,” he said, explaining
how he began taking courses in film and finances. “What we
found out is that 97 percent of independent films do not
make money for their investors. Everyone else gets paid, the
cast, the crew. It didn’t frighten me away — the data didn’t
— but it made me more determined to find out what the 3
Leonard Brink (right), producer and co-writer of the
independent film “Precious Mettle,” and director Edmond
Coisson (front) discuss the movie with members of the
Part of that involved getting good people to sign on, he said.
That included getting actor Paul Sorvino to tackle the role
of police commander Frank Walsh. Others in the cast include Matt Bushell, Fiona Dourif and Todd Bridges.
Now, aside from some late tweaking of the movie’s end credits and the fact that the film hasn’t yet been rated — Brink said
they expect it to end up with an R rating because of some adult content — the film is done and awaiting audiences.
Which leads to the screenings in Jacksonville.
“We thought we’d like to do a full-scale screening with people who knew little or nothing about the film, and we thought
about Jacksonville” because of Brink’s ties to IC, he said, adding that IC gave him a home he’d never really felt he had
The 90-minute film will be shown under screening conditions, with an opening introduction and a questionnaire for
audience members to fill out afterward. The Sunday evening showings, at 6:45 and 7:15 p.m., will be followed by 30minute question-and-answer sessions with Brink and the director, Edmond Coisson.
February 18, 2015
Producer, IC alum to screen new movie in Jacksonville
Jacksonville, Ill. – Illinois College alumnus Leonard Brink will host a special screening of his movie,
“Precious Mettle,” starring acclaimed actor Paul Sorvino at the Illinois Theatre in downtown Jacksonville
on Sunday, March 1, at 6:45 and 7:15 p.m. and on Monday, March 2, at 2 and 7 p.m.
Brink, a 1966 IC graduate, is co-writer, producer and
executive producer of the film.
“This is going to be a special weekend,” Brink said. “It’s
the first large, official nonproduction screening of the
film, and it will be under screening conditions. We will
have exit polling, we are going to have Q and A sessions
afterwards, and it’s an opportunity for us to mobilize and get feedback and
Brink has been a longtime supporter of Illinois College and having the chance to
screen “Precious Mettle” in Jacksonville, Brink said, is just another way for him
to support the school and the community.
The story of “Precious Mettle,” based in the west suburbs of Chicago, evolved
from a short film from director Edmond Coisson and his wife, Glessna, both cowriters. Brink, who retired from a career in health care, had just begun to dive
into the world of film with a documentary on the Vietnam War. He met the
Coissons after he submitted his documentary at the Naperville Independent Film
Festival – a festival the Coissons created. Once Brink read the screenplay for
“Precious Mettle,” he wanted to join the project.
Along with Sorvino, “Precious Mettle” also stars Matt Bushell, Fiona Dourif and Todd Bridges. The story revolves around aging
Police Commander Frank Walsh (Sorvino), who after losing his wife and daughter in a tragic car crash many years ago, is about to
retire. Facing further emptiness in his life, Frank learns that a heroin addict, Judy (Dourif), is his daughter from a past relationship.
While coming to terms with this reality, his best friend, Charlie, a retired cop, is murdered, and his money and gold go missing.
Frank must now find a killer, search for the gold, help Judy overcome her demons and allow himself a second chance to be a father.
"Precious Mettle" takes us on a dangerous discovery of murder, motives and money.
“I think it’s an awesome movie, and I think everyone will learn something from this subject,” Edmond said. “We had a great cast, a
fantastic crew. When I found out I’d be working with Paul Sorvino I was like wow. The guy from ‘Goodfellows,’ really? I’ll be
working with him? So that was really amazing.”
Edmond added that the whole process of building a story that began on a piece of paper and ended with this real thing, took the
collaboration of everyone involved. “Now Frank Walsh exists, before he was just a figment of my imagination. And now you’ll get
to see him on Sunday, March 1.”
June 21, 2013
Suburban filmmakers bank on 'Precious Mettle'
June 21, 2013
By Melissa Jenco, Chicago Tribune reporter
It was just last year the Naperville Independent Film Festival brought founders Edmond and Glessna Coisson together with producer
DeAnna Cooper and novice filmmaker Leonard Brink.
Now they are watching Paul Sorvino of "Goodfellas" fame
deliver lines from "Precious Mettle," the feature film they
have been shooting in the heart of Naperville.
"To see it evolve from a very small low-budget short to a
fantastic feature story is a dream come true," said co-writer
Glessna Coisson of Oswego. "It's the most incredible thing as
a writer to watch your words come out of Paul Sorvino's
mouth. It's fulfilling, it's exciting, it's scary."
The crime thriller, which also stars Matt Bushell, Fiona
Dourif and Todd Bridges, began as a short film Coisson
wrote more than a decade ago. It tells the story of a police
commander trying to help his heroin-addicted daughter while
also investigating his best friend's murder.
Edmond Coisson and Leonard Brink on the set of Precious Mettle.
"I say it's got more twists than Chubby Checker," Glessna Coisson said. "You have to watch it to the very very very end and then
there's (still) a mystery."
Through their film festival, the Coissons, who also own Our Path Productions, met Brink, of Naperville, who had retired from a career
in the health care field and was just delving into the film world with a documentary about the Vietnam War. After reading Coisson's
screenplay he joined on as a co-writer and executive producer.
"I could barely spell feature film at that time so this was a sharp learning curve," Brink said.
He started taking online classes in everything from screenwriting to crime scene management and studying other independent films,
which he said, "have a high mortality rate."
"Making a movie is incredibly complex, but it's not rocket science. … You have to pay your dues and work hard and put it together
and don't take shortcuts," he said.
For the past three weeks, they have been shooting "Precious Mettle" in Naperville and Aurora including private homes in both cities,
the Naperville Metra station, Features Bar and Grill and Peanuts Bar and Grill, where they filmed scenes Thursday.
Peanuts owner George Georganas had listened to Edmond Coisson and Brink talk about the film when they'd come into his bar.
"It finally came to fruition so we figured we'd help them out," Georganas said. "Good exposure for the town, the community."
Crews took over the space with lights and cameras Thursday, using the main bar area as a police hangout and transforming the
upstairs into a formal restaurant.
Local filmmakers not only make up the crew, but also part of the cast with actors like Jodi Russell, Andy St. Clair, Yasen Peyankov
and Dan Waller as well as extras in the film.
"It's a lot of fun," extra Nicole Marchluk of Bolingbrook said as she waited for her scenes as a bar patron. "You get to meet some
interesting people. It's a lot of hurry up and wait, which is what the film industry is about and it's been interesting watching the
Filming is scheduled to wrap up Sunday. The movie is expected to be released next year, and its creators say they are hoping to bring
it to audiences around the country.
"It was a great mesh of all minds to get the best possible thing we could do," Glessna Coisson said. "And they kept raising the bar,
raising the bar, raising the bar."
June 21, 2013
Paul Sorvino is probably best known for his authoritative heavy roles, most notably mob
boss Paul Cicero in “Goodfellas.” But when he started out on his show business career
he had dreams of being a famous opera singer. Classically trained he discovered the
acting bug while attending the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York
City. In 1972 he landed a starring role in the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning
drama “That Championship Season.” His work here got him noticed by Hollywood and
he soon found himself getting small roles in such films as “The Panic in Needle Park,”
“A Touch of Class” and “The Day of the Dolphin.” In 1975 he found himself starring in
his own television series, “We’ll Get By,” which was created by Alan Alda.
The first time I saw Mr. Sorvino on screen was in the film, “Oh, God!” As the Reverend
Willie Williams (if you watched religious television programming in the 1970s it’s clear
that he was based on Ernest Angley), he is the man behind a lawsuit claiming
defamation after John Denver’s character tells him that God wants him to stop ripping
people off. The next year he starred in director John Avildsen’s follow-up to “Rocky”
entitled “Slow Dancing in the Big City.” As a New York City reporter who falls in love
with his neighbor, a ballet dancer, he gives one of his greatest on screen performances.
He has continued giving great performances in films such as “Reds,” “Dick Tracy,” “Goodfellas,” “Nixon” and Baz
Luhrman’s adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet.” He co-starred in the film version of “That Championship Season,” as well as
a later television adaptation that he also directed. Besides “Goodfellas” he is probably best known for his two seasons as
Sgt. Phil Cerreta on “Law and Order.” And lest you think he gave up on the singing career, you can hear his amazing voice
in such films as “The Cooler,” “Repo! The Generic Opera” and “The Devil’s Carnival.”
While in Chicago filming his latest project, the drama “Precious Mettle,” Mr. Sorvino took time out to speak with Media
Mikes about his career, justice at the Oscars and the fine art of slicing garlic.
Mike Smith: Let’s get the important question out of the way first, which comes from my wife. Was that really you slicing
the garlic so fine in “Goodfellas?”
Paul Sorvino: That’s an interesting question. A lot of people have asked me that. But I’m curious why she thinks it
wouldn’t have been me! (laughs)
MS: I think it’s because she’s a great Italian cook and she
remarks every time we watch the film that it takes a certain
skill to do that.
PS: Tell her that I’m also a sculptor and a pianist. I also
play the guitar. My hands are pretty well educated. Indeed
that was me.
MS: Can you give us some insight into the character you’re
playing in the film you’re currently shooting, “Precious
PS: It’s a wonderful script. The character is very rich. He’s
a strong man…a police commander. But he also has a big
heart. Without giving too much away I can tell you that it
becomes a father/daughter story…a very, very emotional
story. I like it because there’s a lot of emotion in it and a lot of tough guy too. And I like playing parts like that.
MS: Is that what attracted you to the film?
PS: It was the overall quality of the script. As a writer and director myself, I don’t just look at a script from the point of
view of the role I’m going to play. I look at the totality of the quality of the script. I know if the script is good then we’ll
make a good movie. This script is very good so I know we’re making a very good movie. And, again, the role is excellent.
MS: You trained to be an opera singer and have performed in some of your films. Did you ever release and album or CD?
PS: I have and you can probably get it off eBay. It’s called “Paul Sorvino Sings” and I recorded it with the Seattle
Symphony as a PBS special. I can also be heard on the cast albums of “Carmalina” and “The Baker’s Wife.” Those are the
three recordings you can hear me on. I’ve sung with the New York City
Opera. I’ve sung with the Seattle Opera. I’ve done a gala at the Metropolitan
Opera. I’ll also be doing a concert tour in Canada in the fall. We start in
Montreal in September.
MS: If you had a choice would you rather be singing or acting?
PS: (laughs) Both!
MS: My two favorite performances of yours are, ironically, the first two
films I saw you in: Reverend Willie Williams in “Oh, God!” and Lou
Friedlander in “Slow Dancing in the Big City.”
PS: You remember those? (laughs) Wow, you go way back.
MS: They’re also two very different roles. One is played for comedy and the
other is quite dramatic. Do you have a preference of doing comedy or
PS: Not really. If I’ve done a couple of comedies I’ll try to follow them up
with a couple of dramas. I like to do both. I’ve just shot three very serious
movies in a row. I’d love to do a comedy next. In fact my next film will be
“The Devil’s Carnival 2.” That’s going to be zany! I probably wouldn’t call it a comedy but it’s a very different style.
MS: Besides that project what else do you have coming up?
PS: There’s a project of my own that I want to do called “Marietta’s Song,” which would star my daughter Mira and I
would direct and write. It’s based on the story of my mother and I. I’ve always written. I was a copywriter in advertising
and became a creative director. In 1985 I wrote the book “How to Become a Former Asthmatic” (NOTE: Mr. Sorvino has
battled asthma his whole life and is the founder of the Sorvino Asthma Foundation in New York City). I’ve written many
scripts but thisone is a true labor of love.
MS: Speaking of Mira, one of the most genuine emotional moments EVER in Academy Award history came when Mira
thanked you from the stage after winning the Oscar for her role in “Mighty Aphrodite.” Can you describe what you were
feeling at that moment?
PS: Nothing was going through my mind, I can tell you, but my heart….I was just so happy! Happy that justice had been
done. She’s a great actress who gave a great performance. Oscar justice is not always done… as we all know, life is not fair.
But that night justice was served. My heart was overflowing with pride and happiness. I wasn’t thinking anything but I was
feeling all of that. I couldn’t believe that she said that…it was a wonderful time where a billion people saw the wonderful
relationship between a father and between a father and a daughter that’s very rare to see on television. I was just so proud
of my daughter. I’m proud of all my children.”
May 29, 2013
June 12, 2013
Earlier this week I spoke with Fiona Dourif
(The Master, “True Blood”) on the set of her
new movie, Precious Mettle, which sounds
like an interesting and intense indie thriller.
Written and directed by Edmond Coisson,
the film also stars Paul Sorvino
(Goodfellas) as “ a police commander that
attempts to help a daughter he never knew
escape heroin addiction and a past that
endangers her while investigating his best
Dourif and I talked about the challenges of tackling such intense material, working with veteran Paul Sorvino and just
what to expect from her role in Curse of Chucky.
Can you tell us a little about Precious Mettle and the character you play? “It’s a murder mystery and Paul
Sorvino plays the lead. I can’t really give away that much… I play a sparkling heroin addict who is doing her best to piece
her life together and confront her past.”
What are you drawing on to hit those depths? I imagine that’s different from your current situation. “No,
that is not who I am. I did a fair amount of drugs as a teenager actually, though it never progressed to the point where it
has for Judy, my character. I just draw on that and the pain that I’ve felt in my life. And my imagination. Oh, and feeling
really really sick. I travelled to Myanmar last year and got so sick I was vomiting into one of those toilets that are flat with
the ground – I just laid next to one of those for three days.”
How is it working with Paul Sorvino? “Really fun. He’s an old timer, an old veteran actor. We have a great rapport, I
would go ahead and say. We laugh a lot, I call him “your majesty.” We actually have a lot of fun. And I didn’t think this
movie was going to be fun because the material is so intense.”
And how is Edmond Coisson [director] guiding you through all of this? “He’s given me a lot of freedom.
Freedom to take it places he hadn’t thought of, which is kind of the best you can hope for.” When you first read the script
was there anything that leapt out at you that you thought you couldn’t do? “Yes, all over the place. Totally. All of it, in fact!
Or at least the first half of the movie. I just didn’t know if I could do it, I was pretty terrified of it. But most of that material
has been filmed now. And it was easier for me than I thought it would be. You just prepare and hope you do it well.”
How is it playing a paraplegic in Curse Of Chucky? It’s a little restrictive, I suppose. “Yeah, it’s the second
paraplegic that I’ve played. I played one three years ago in a Hallmark movie. I have a lot of respect for people who have
been able to adapt to living that way.”
How does Chucky come back in this film? “You’re gonna have to wait and see! I mean, Chucky always comes back,
You’ve got Don Mancini directing, who created the character and wrote all the films. But it’s more of a
sequel to the original three, rather than Bride or Seed correct? “I mean I think the idea behind it, or the mission
statement, is that Chucky is scary again. It’s a sequel in the style of a remake. I think it’s closest to Child’s Play 1.”
Are you signed on for more if the franchise continues? “I cannot say. It might give away things away!”
We Are Movie Geeks
May 31, 2013
Police Commander Frank Walsh, after losing his wife and daughter in a
tragic car crash many years ago, is about to retire. Facing further emptiness in his
life, Frank learns that a heroin addict, Judy, may be his daughter from a
relationship 26 years ago. While coming to terms with this reality, his best friend
Charlie, a retired cop, is murdered and his money and gold goes missing. Frank
must now find the killer, search for the gold, help Judy overcome her demons and
allow himself a second chance to be a father. PRECIOUS METTLE takes us on a
dangerous discovery of murder, motives and money.
PRECIOUS METTLE joins a vibrant list of feature films and top-notch
television shows shooting in the Chicago community this summer
including Michael Bay ‘s Transformers 4, Neil Burger ‘s $4 million film Divergent,
the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending,Chicago Fire, its spinoff Chicago PD,
and Robert Redford ‘s Chicagoland, showing a significant resurgence of
production in the Windy City. Amarok combines Hollywood experience with
Midwestern roots to bring PRECIOUS METTLE, a Chicago-style story, to life.
Paul Sorvino will star in the murder
mystery Precious Mettle shooting
this summer outside Chicago.
Fiona Dourif (True Blood, The Master) plays Sorvino’s daughter and Chris
Browning (Cowboys & Aliens, Book of Eli) the menacing presence that threatens
Along with Todd Bridges, Malea Mitchell and Joe Estevez, Chicago’s own local actors will be well represented on the big
screen: Jodi Russell, Andy St. Clair, Yasen Peyankov, Dan Waller, Loren Lazerine, Fernando Albiar, Paul Tinsley, Diane
Shaw and Dianne Bischoff. Members of the Press are invited to visit the set in Chicago’s western suburbs during
production from June 4th to June 23rd.
PRECIOUS METTLE is helmed by Italian director Edmond Coisson, who also co-wrote the script. Coisson is the founder
of the Naperville Film Festival (NIFF), now qualifying to be one of the 64 festivals recognized by the Academy Awards.
After stepping away from directing for the past several years to create NIFF, he is excited to get back into the directing
chair and create a thrilling movie ride that keeps you guessing.
Join the search at preciousmettlethemovie.com.