Sunday, May 28, 2000

A look at local films in works

By Margaret A. McGurk
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        While local filmmakers struggle to sell their finished films, new projects pop up almost monthly. Here is a sample of local film projects with high ambitions — or at least high hopes:

        Artworks — Local media producer Jim Amatulli plans to direct his “character-driven story (about) moral ambiguity” starring actor Rick Rossovich (Roxanne). Mr. Amatulli has been patching together backers film since 1998 His most recent assessment: “I'm cautiously optimistic. I think we'll get there.” Pending financing, he hopes to shoot this year.

        Dead Horse — An acerbic comedy about carpet salesmen, the film is set to star Joe Pantoliano in the directing debut of Pat DiNizio of the rock band Smithereens. It is written by Matt Hader and produced by Mark Turner, who also produced April's Fool. With financing luck, it could start this summer.

        The Doppenberg Theory — Marcy Fisk, a senior in the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music electronic media program, is producing this movie about four boys who set out to discover the fate of socks lost in the dryer. Her partner is Cincinnati native Dan Niederbaumer, a special-effects makeup artist (The X-Files Movie). Los Angeles-based Adam Simpson is the writer-director. Financing is largely in place for the digital video production with a largely volunteer crew and cast. (The production is still looking for boys ages 7 through 10 for the lead roles. Call Ms. Fisk at 221-3475.) The two-week shoot is slated for late July.

        A Generation Lost — Recent Xavier University graduate Matthew J. Freudenberg will shoot his first feature with a largely volunteer cast on June 9 and wrap by June 25. Financing for the ultra-low-budget project is complete. (He is still seeking donations of meals to feed 15 to 20 cast and crew members. Contact publicist Aymie Majerski, 325-7543 or 251-0032).

        Jack and Daisy — This low-budget, comedy-laden drama about 36 hours in a life of man and woman is the work of Cincinnati native Sean Brendan Garner, a UC graduate and finance executive for a social service agency. Mr. Garner has recruited about half his crew, but is still seeking actresses. He still needs locations — “Someone who's willing to let 12 or 15 complete strangers into their house.” Between his savings and “silent investors,” he said, financing is in place.

        Jimmy High-Five — Andrea Thompson, recently departed from NYPD Blue, has agreed to play a key role in the comedy about low-lifes who stumble on the body of late Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa. Cincinnati ad executive and writer Greg Newberry plans to direct the film himself in the Tristate — unless out-of-town investors insist on a change of location. Financing is incomplete, though European rights have been sold.

        Tattered Angel — Lynda Carter, best known as star of the Wonder Woman TV series, pledged to star in this drama written by her former acting classmate Duffy Hudson. Last summer, she attended a lavish Indian Hill party to court investors. The filmmakers, including producer Alan Forbes and director Will Benson, hosted party for investors at their production office in Newport in April. Their aim, pending financing, is to shoot this fall.


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