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Young Charles City actor has bit part in short film ‘Murphy’s Law’

  • Charles City’s Joey Robel, age 10, plays the part of “Benji the lawn boy” in the upcoming short film “Murphy’s Law,” which will premiere at The Charles Theatre on June 30. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • Charles City’s Joey Robel, age 10, plays the part of “Benji the lawn boy” in the upcoming short film “Murphy’s Law,” which will premiere at The Charles Theatre on June 30. (Movie poster art submitted.)

  • Charles City’s Joey Robel, age 10, plays the part of “Benji the lawn boy” in the upcoming short film “Murphy’s Law,” which will premiere at The Charles Theatre on June 30. (Movie poster art submitted.)

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

Charles City’s Joey Robel, age 10, will get to experience walking the red carpet on June 30.

Robel has a small but important part in the 18-minute short film, “Murphy’s Law,” which will make its world premiere at the Charles Theatre before the regular movie, Sunday, June 30.

The festival short, produced by Iowa filmmaker Les Nelson, is tagged as “the story of a man who thought things couldn’t get any worse.”

There is no extra charge to see the short, which will be shown before the regularly-scheduled movie, “The Secret Life Of Pets, II,” which starts at 7 p.m. Patrons will only have to pay regular movie admission.

The actors will walk down the red carpet and into the theater at 5:45 p.m. Robel plays the part of “Benji the lawn boy” in the movie.

“I play a kid that was mowing the lawn, and a guy named Murphy won the mega-millions, and he had to get in his car and he didn’t have gas, so he took my gas can,” Robel explained.

Nelson produced the movie “Rise of the Sea Urchins,” about a coach reaching for his last chance at success with his high school boys water polo team. The movie, which was primarily shot in Forest City, premiered in 2015 at The Charles and several other theaters in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota.

“Murphy’s Law” stars Mikeal Burgin and Jim Brockhohn. Burgin is a Hollywood actor and writer who has appeared in 18 motion pictures, including such movies as “Bring Me A Dream,” Low Self Esteem,” and “The Experiment.” Brockhohn, from Forest City, has 29 movies to his credit, including “Rise of the Sea Urchins,” “Demonica” and “Trunk’d.”

Steve Robel, Joey’s father, who owns Quality Auto in Charles City, explained that Nelson’s company, Marketplace Media, puts together the ads that roll before the movies at the Charles Theatre, including the ads for his business. Marketplace Media is based in Rockford and creates ads for business throughout the upper Midwest.

A few years ago they started adding family members to Robel’s ads, and they seemed to go over well. Nelson seemed to think Joey was especially good.

“Joey follows directions well, and he told me that if he ever needed a kid for a role in one of his movies, he wondered if Joey would be available,” Robel said. “I just thought it would be a nice experience for him.”

Robel said that Joey’s total screen time amounts to only about 15-30 seconds of the 18-minute movie, but Joey had to spend several hours in Forest City shooting and reshooting for the bit part.

“They had to do the scene over and over from different camera angles and with different sounds and all that,” he said.

Joey said he had to repeat his line — “Hey, mister, that’s my gas can! You can’t take that!” — seven times before he was finished. He had some additional dialogue that didn’t make the film’s final cut.

Robel said the movie short is a dark comedy, with some slapstick comedy, about a guy down on his luck who constantly fails at trying to end his own life. Although the theme is presented in a comical way, it’s dark enough to give the film a PG designation — parental guidance is recommended.

Joey, who turns 11 soon and will be in fifth grade next fall, said he is not quite ready to be a famous actor, although he didn’t rule out the possibility.

“I don’t know, maybe,” he said. “I’d do it again if someone asked me.”

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