The Unbroken Circle




The Unbroken Circle (a tri-lingual film - English, Arabic, and Hebrew - using native language speakers), tells the “true to life” story of an Israeli family and a Palestinian family in Israel.   Their young sons, hospitalized from injuries in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, are the catalyst for an unexpected bond.  Despite each family’s pledge to foster peace among their people, there is a poignant and gut–wrenching twist to the story that is reflective of the real struggles endured in their daily lives.

Although the story and characters are fictional, the story is loosely based on a true life experience of the writer being befriended by an Israeli officer and the subsequent friendship of an Israeli Arab who took the writer into Palestinian territories including Bethlehem before the occupation of the church of nativity.  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues today. 

The Unbroken Circle is truly a story of the times.



About the production


In December 2004, armed with a 28 page script, (a fictional look at the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with a humanistic twist), Orange County California residents John Ludwig (62) and Terry Michaels (47) teamed up to create Ludwig-Michaels Productions, and agreed to tackle the monumental task of producing the tri-lingual (Arabic, Hebrew and English) short film The Unbroken Circle.

John wrote the script, and would direct it, as well as be instrumental in the casting process, research and development, and co-produce the film. Terry signed on as co-producer, unit production manager, and first assistant director. Both wore many hats during pre-production as well as post production of this micro-budgeted film, which was self financed.

In January 2005, locations were secured at the closed Tustin Marine Air Base. The rooms were bare, and exteriors overgrown, so sets were designed and built from scratch, to John’s vision. A hospital room, an emergency room, and two different family homes were built, painted and dressed. A bucolic cemetery was also created. There was no electricity or running water on the Tustin site, so generators and portable toilets were used by cast and crew throughout the production.

A helicopter sequence was shot at Camp Pendleton Marine base, where the Red Dog squadron graciously allowed retired Marine Captain John access with his cast and crew. The squadron lent a hand by agreeing to be cast as extras for the scene.

John and Terry contacted numerous medical centers and pharmacies asking for donations of scrap and outdated medical equipment and furnishings. A local recycler donated the bulk of the hospital furnishings. A hospital in Michigan heard about the project and immediately shipped out cartons of doctor’s coats, scrubs, hospital gowns, and small expendables. Specialized costumes and props were created by hand after thoughtful research.

In search of native language speakers of Arabic and Hebrew, in February 2005 numerous casting notices were posted online, with hundreds of responses from all over the world. Resumes and headshots were carefully reviewed, casting calls were held, and over the course of two months, casting was complete.

April 23, 2005 shooting began, with a mixture of professional and non-professional crewmembers and cast (nearly 125 in all) volunteering their time and  energy to a project they deemed worthy; to promote peace among the people of the Middle East and show the futile conflict that continues today. Almost all the cast and a portion of the crew were either of Israeli or Arabic descent that bonded together with a common goal. Although challenging, the cast and crew remained intact throughout production.

Editing began on the project in July 2005, and the musical score was completed in February of 2006.

In an interesting coincidence, the world premiere screening of The Unbroken Circle was held at the Newport Beach Film Festival on April 23, 2006; exactly one year from the first day of filming.

If there is one central theme Ludwig and Michaels are most proud of it is that they are presenting a film that promotes peace among these people without any bias.  A lesson to all who watch this story unfold is that true heartache within families has no favorites.

Click to download the production notes.

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