Meet Cory Krueckeberg, the Fort Wayne-born filmmaker behind the feature film ‘Glitter & Doom’

Since graduating from Homestead High School in the 90s and moving away, Filmmaker Cory Krueckeberg has been back to Fort Wayne many times, but for the first time this week, one of his films is coming to Fort Wayne.

“Glitter & Doom” will play at the Fort Wayne Cinema Center starting April 19. The film is loosely based on Cory’s own romance story with his partner Tom Gustafson, whom he met at Berlin, a club in Chicago.

Cory Krueckeberg“It's a love at first sight romance between two people that have a limited time together before they go their separate ways and they explore this budding new relationship and some of the sort of deeper themes of their lives and their relationships, especially with their mothers, and how to move forward in the future as a couple and as creative people through the incredible music of Indigo Girls,” Cory explains.

After leaving Fort Wayne, Cory attended the University of Illinois, where he studied in the Professional Actor Training Program, exploring different styles of acting and the different departments, like set design and costumes, that make film and theatre productions possible. For about 10 years, he worked as an actor.

Tom Gustafson, director of "Glitter & Doom" and Cory's partner.Tom, who is originally from Illinois, studied film at Northwestern and then began working as a director. After seeing some success in the festival circuit with their first joint effort production, which was a short film, Tom and Cory decided to create a feature-length piece together, “Were the World Mine.” 

Cory describes the film as, “an unapologetically weird, fantastical romance inspired by a Midsummer Night's Dream.” He says he found filmmaking to have significantly less rejection than acting and gave him more creative liberties than he ever had as an actor.

“I was like, ‘Oh, there's slightly less rejection as a filmmaker than as an actor, so maybe I will do more of that,’” he says. “And now I think we've made seven features and a couple of shorts and that's where we're at.”

Cory and Tom both take on multiple roles in their filmmaking process. For example, for “Glitter & Doom” Cory wrote the script, edited, and served as the film's producer, among other roles. As creators of indie films, it’s economical for them to fill as many roles as they’re qualified to fill, but Cory also admits that it’s partially due to his love of the craft that he is so involved throughout the process.

For well over a decade now, the duo has been creating indie films with storylines and characters that were once nowhere to be found in big studio productions.

“When we first made our first film, if you wanted to make a movie about a queer love story, it had to be an indie,” Cory says. “Like there was nobody that was making that in 2010, so that was kind of our goal. Our goal was to work within this sort of indie realm, because those were the only ways you could tell the stories we wanted to tell. Now, obviously, there's a much bigger diversity in the stories that people are telling, which is amazing.”

Their current film, “Glitter & Doom” features characters based on themselves. Cory says during the writing process they went through their handwritten letters and audiotapes to one another to help create the dialogue. Certain locations and props are also direct references to their relationship, too.

As he worked to create the characters that were based on their mothers, Cory says he was able to go through his mother’s journals, giving lines of dialogue to Missy Piles, who plays Doom’s mom, that are direct quotes from his mom, who passed away 10 years ago.

“It was very much like a collage of as much as we could sort of squeeze in without it being too ridiculous or too obvious,” Cory says.

Not only are the lines, locations and props hint at his real life, but Cory says being able to use the music of the Indigo Girls was a perfect fit, as their music was a big part of their lives.

“It sort of felt meant to be,” he explains. “Then going through all of their music, I mean, I think it's like 300 or 400 songs that they've published and they've written and recorded and like a vast catalog of music that could tell many, many stories and so that started that whole process of trying to figure out what songs we were going to choose.”

Amy Ray, Alex Diaz and Alen Cammish in 'Glitter & Doom.'Shifting through the trailblazing duo’s large catalog of music was a task, but with the help of a music producer, they were able to create mashups of Indigo Girl songs that helped move the storyline.

Additionally, a documentary, “Indigo Girls: It’s Only Life After All,” is also making rounds in arthouse theatres around the country right now. Creating a unique double-feature opportunity for fans of the Indigo Girls– a documentary examining their career and a feature film using their music as its soundtrack. (You can catch “Indigo Girls: It’s Only Life After All” at the Cinema Center too!)

Roughly 40-50 cinemas have booked “Glitter & Doom” thanks in part to a conscious effort to reach out to places like the Cinema Center. Cory says that while you can technically enjoy a musical movie at home, his goal in filmmaking is to bring people together and allow them to experience something together.

“We love festivals and we love these small regional art houses because they bring people together,” he says. “Like when a group of people sit in a room and experience the same thing at the same time, it's a different emotional feeling. It's a different catharsis. We value them because they bring people together and they bring community together. They build community.”

Alan Cammish and Alex Diaz in 'Glitter & Doom."As he prepares to show his work in his hometown for the first time, Cory says he’s heard from family members who are excited to experience his work in a theatre setting and he’s excited to see what new questions might come up during the virtual Q&A after the first screening on April 19.

Cory visits Fort Wayne once or twice a year and is not shy about crediting the city and its strong arts and culture scene. In the future, he hopes to contribute more in ways to Fort Wayne’s creative community.

“I got so much out of the arts organizations in Fort Wayne when I was growing up,” Cory says. “I've told people ever since I left Fort Wayne and went to college, the amount of culture and art that is in this small town in the middle of cornfields is kind of amazing and nobody would really believe me, but it really is. I'm very, very proud to have come from that and I'm very excited that the film is playing there for that reason– to be a part of that.”

For showtimes of “Glitter & Doom,” visit the Cinema Center’s website.

To find more of Cory’s work, click here.
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Read more articles by Brittany Smith.

Brittany Smith is Input Fort Wayne's Managing Editor. Previously she served as Assistant Editor and participated in the College Input Program. She also volunteers for Northeast Indiana Public Radio.