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'Hartford is due for a movie': Feature film set and filmed in CT's capital hits theaters this week | CT INSIDER

Jun 23, 2024

Natasha Sokoloff

HARTFORD — A heist film set and filmed in Hartford, long known as the "Insurance Capital of the World," will be coming to theaters across the country June 28.

"Midas," a feature film about the robbery of a health insurance company, has been in the works for years now. And for writer, director, and producer TJ Noel-Sullivan, 25, its release is "one of those dream-come-true moments," he said.

Noel-Sullivan, a Hartford native, has been working on this project since 2020. But the idea of filming in Hartford is something he's been dreaming of far beyond this film's timeline.

"I feel like Hartford is due for a movie," he said. "The stories we see on screen are so impactful to the narratives that we believe. ... And so we see cities like New York, L.A. glamorized on screen, and I wanted to do that with Hartford, and have it be an alternate narrative to maybe the doom and gloom that we see on the nightly news."

So, "Midas," with an entire premise built upon Hartford being a hotspot for insurance companies, aims to cinematically showcase the best that the city has to offer. Noel-Sullivan describes it as "Hartford-centric," being filmed entirely in the city, and featuring landmarks like Dunkin' Park, The Bushnell, the riverfront, and over a dozen small businesses.

The filming process took place over a few weeks in summer 2022, which was also the first time that the film's lead actors had ever come to Connecticut's capital city.

"Midas" follows a charismatic college dropout, played by Laquan Copeland, who recruits his two best friends to steal from the health insurer that denied his mother's coverage, uncovering a much darker scheme in the process.

Copeland, 27, said that as someone born and raised in the South, he had little perception of what Hartford would be like, especially because he had never really seen the city and its community highlighted on screen. But he never expected that it would remind him so much of his hometown in Georgia.

"It was so beautiful to see that Hartford carried those same traditions that we did in the South. Everybody was so warm, so welcoming," he said. "I think I was more so surprised at how rich the community was and how rich the culture was and how beautiful it was."

The film also stars 27-year-old Preet Kaur, who said that watching the community rally in support of Noel-Sullivan during filming spoke volumes for the kind of city Hartford is.

"We were just surrounded by families and like laughter and like community and culture. That was my experience. Nothing but warmth," she said.

And Noel-Sullivan said he couldn't be more grateful, because as much work, effort, and time he put into "Midas" over the last four years, it also took so many people believing in him and in the project to help make it happen.

"You know, there's the saying that it takes a village, like in this case, it really it took a city," he said. "It took the city of Hartford to make this film happen."

The community provided a magnitude of resources for the film, including donations and volunteers. "And I think that was very much both just in the spirit of Hartford, but also, you know, the strong community that I built here in my time," he said.

In fact, over 200 community members volunteered as extras in a variety of scenes, Noel-Sullivan said. "You can't do that in New York or in L.A.," he said.

Noel-Sullivan said he owes a lot of where he's gotten in his career to Hartford and the institutions within it that made it possible, like Hartford Public Schools and Real Art Ways, a nonprofit contemporary art space in the city. Years before a stint in Los Angeles, it was at Real Art Ways where Noel-Sullivan first really explored his passion for film making, he said.

And on the film's opening night on June 28, his feature debut will be happening there.

"So that's kind of a really cool full circle moment to, you know, learn filming from there, and nine years later, be debuting a film there," he said. "I mean, I say I'm very much a product of Hartford."

That's why founded The Hartford Film Company, which produced "Midas," and plans to bring even more projects to the city.

"I have such deep roots here in Hartford, I have deep family love and family ties to the city," he said. "And so I kind of said to myself, you know, why not? Why not do it here and get to tell stories here?"

And one of his favorite aspects of this whole process has been the excitement that they've received throughout the city about this project, he said. 

"People's eyes really light up, that we shot a movie in Hartford and its coming to theaters," Noel-Sullivan said. "That's really, really cool. And I think kind of both shows the support that we get, but also the sense of pride."

Starting June 28, "Midas" will be playing in 20 cities across the country. Currently, it will be showing in two Connecticut theaters, including Real Art Ways and Westbrook Cinemas, but Noel-Sullivan said he is working to bring it to even more.

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