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

By 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