By Karen Billing
When Chase Mohseni first met Ben Reed he was “Mr. Reed,” the actor father of one of his 7-year-old classmates at La Jolla Country Day School. Nineteen years later, the pair have teamed up to make the feature film “Starcrossed,” written and directed by Mohseni.
Reed, a Carmel Valley resident, acted in and served as producer for the movie that will premiere at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28, at the San Diego Film Festival at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp 15 (701 5th Ave, San Diego).
“Starcrossed” is about a young writer who encounters a mysterious woman and rewrites his future over the course of one memorable night. The film also features actors Mischa Barton, up-and-comer Grant Harvey and Eric Roberts.
Although Reed has acted in film and television roles for 25 years, this is his first time as a producer. Reed said that working alongside an energetic young first-timer like Mohseni was a great experience, and he especially enjoyed the creativity involved in his role as producer, mixing together all the perfect ingredients to craft a beautiful product.
“This is the most fun I’ve had on a film in over 20 years,” said Reed, 49. “It was invigorating and inspiring. I feel like it’s helped my acting, it’s helped everything.”
Originally from Oklahoma, Reed is an athlete who went on to play quarterback at West Virginia University. After an injury derailed any hopes for a professional football career, he moved to Los Angeles two weeks after graduation to pursue his passion for acting.
He attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena and was hanging around a film set in 1990 when he scored his first role and Screen Actors Guild card, filling in for an actor who quit.
He has worked steadily throughout the years, including guest spots on “Seinfeld,” traveling to New Zealand to play Thor on the television show “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” and appearances on “NCIS,” “CSI” and “House.”
He most recently worked on “American Sniper,” a Clint Eastwood film starring Bradley Cooper. Reed plays Cooper’s father in flashbacks.
Reed has lived in Carmel Valley for 17 years, choosing to commute to Los Angeles for work and stay in San Diego to raise his family. A father of five, even though he sometimes spends up to four days a week in LA auditioning or filming, he still makes it a priority to coach his son’s Little League team or watch his daughter play volleyball.
“It’s like going from one world to another,” Reed said. “When I’m up there, I’m pretending to be a lawyer or a cop; I get to escape … It’s something new every day. There’s no mundane.”
Mohseni has a master’s degree in film from Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television. According to Reed, he “eats, sleeps and drinks film.”
He approached “Mr. Reed” about reading his script last year and after reading “Starcrossed” and tossing around some ideas, Reed believed they could make this movie and that it could be good.
Casting was the first task. Reed had Barton in mind because of the English roots of both the character and the actress. Once Barton had “loved” the script and signed on, they auditioned a ton of young male leads in LA, trying to find the right fit and the right chemistry.
Reed said that when Harvey and Barton were in a room together it was instantly “electric,” and they knew they had found their leads.
Reed said he thinks the movie is the best performance Barton has ever done, and he believes that Harvey, best known for a role on the TV show “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” is going to be a big star. Part of what makes their performances so good are Mohseni’s words, he said.
“What he wrote is so rich and so deep,” he said of the script, which he called darkly romantic, following two lost souls who make a connection over a matter of hours.
The film was shot over 16 days at the end of October 2013. Post-production work started in January, the beginning of a long march until just this week when all the details on the final cut were finished.
“I had no idea how lengthy the post-production process would be,” Reed said.
The work was hard, but fun and creative in many ways, from managing the personalities of all the different “animals” who were brought into the tapestry of the film, the editing and sound process of hiring composers, sifting through what’s best for the movie and who really “gets” the script, proofreading the credits for typos, and getting a final movie poster done.
A lot of business was involved, too, negotiating deals and raising funds.
“Chase did a wonderful job with his vision and sticking to it. He stayed on track and I really commend him for that,” said Reed.
The next step will be to send the film out to distributors and try to make the best deal to get their film out there. Reed said they will look domestically and internationally and at options such as HBO or Showtime, Netflix or Redbox.
“It’s an amazing time for filmmakers because there’s so many different avenues,” Reed said. “It’s very exciting.”
Reed said he and Mohseni are honored to have been accepted into the San Diego Film Festival, one of just over 100 movies selected out of about 3,000 submissions. The pair plan to hit the festival together and experience it all. The festival will be a first for director/writer and actor/producer alike.
The 13th annual festival runs Sept. 24-28 with Reese Witherspoon’s “Wild” on opening night and Hilary Swank’s “You’re Not You” as the closing film. The festival will also feature a Night of Stars on Sept. 25, honoring Alan Arkin, Beau Bridges, Saginaw Grant, Michelle Monaghan and Alison Pill. Panels will include actors whose films are screening at the festival, including Josh Duhamel, Dennis Haysbert, Tom Berenger and Stelio Savante. Films are screened at Reading Cinemas and Arclight Theater in La Jolla.