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The Phoenix Always Rises. (Special to the American Press)

The Phoenix Always Rises. (Special to the American Press)

Filmmaker returns to Lake Charles in preparation for ‘The Phoenix Always Rises’

Last Modified: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 10:25 AM

By Natalie Stewart / American Press

A Baton Rouge filmmaker is kicking off fundraising efforts for his first film in Lake Charles.

Jeff LeJeun, who attended McNeese State University and taught at St. Louis Catholic High School, returned to Lake Charles this week for a fundraising party for his film, “The Phoenix Always Rises,” which is based on his novel, “Postmarked Baltimore.”

He said he had his novel published and then “met the right people and adapted the book into a screenplay.”

LeJeun said the film is about a priest, Father Perry Burns, “losing the battle for his soul” when one night he gets a letter from a woman he was going to marry in his past, exposing his “hypocrisy in becoming a priest and his undying love for her.”

LeJeun said Burns becomes tormented by the sacrifices he made for God and whether he’s worthy now that everything from his past is resurfacing. In the end, Lejeun said, Burns is faced with deciding whether to continue his false life in the priesthood or return to New Orleans to a woman who may be ready to leave her past with Burns behind.

LeJeun said filmmaking “sort of fell into my lap.”

“I was one of the managers at Barnes & Noble in Baton Rouge, and the very first author that I booked to do a signing got me in touch with a woman,” he said. “Ever since that introduction in December, we have been talking. I wrote my script, and she helped me a lot with it, and now we are working together to get the film funded so we can make it.”

LeJeun said the film just came from “loving stories.”

“It wasn’t me going to film school or anything like that,” he said. “It was just me loving stories, which is why I was an English teacher for 10 years. But ultimately I left teaching to start book writing again.”

LeJeun said he has already contracted with New Orleans Motion Picture Studios and executive producer Cerebral Films for the movie, and has verbal agreements from Sammi Rotibi, who appeared in “Django Unchained” and “Lord of War,” and with Shanna Forrestall, who appeared in “Olympus Has Fallen” and “The Last Exorcism.”

Lead actors LeJeun is targeting are Emmy Rossum, Anne Hathaway or Leighton Meester to play Noelle Rose, the woman who wrote the letter to Burns and he was once going to marry; Michael Fassbender, Aiden Turner, Orlando Bloom or James Marsden to play Perry Burns; and Takeshi Kaneshiro, John Leguizamo or Eddie Vedder to play the part of Father Sammi, a priest with tattoos and a “dubious past” who has an influence on Burns.

LeJeun is presenting the film at a private party Friday. Anyone can contribute to the film.

For more information or to help fund LeJeun’s film, email him at or follow the films progress on Facebook at

Posted By: vanessa curtis On: 6/20/2013

Title: passionate

Its from a loving and beautiful place , that all the masses can relate to.

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