STAGE MANAGED, 28min., USA, Comedy
Directed by Guy Noland
A suburban community theater must successfully produce a knock-off version of "My Fair Lady" in order to keep their doors open.
There’s no short answer to “Why this idea and why now?”, so many life experiences and so many people have contributed to the creation of this concept over the years.
The shortest answer I can summon: I grew up in the theater, it is in my DNA. I grew up in front of the TV, it is in my blood. I am a producer, writer, actor, and stand-up comic, so it just made sense to throw all these things into a blender to see what came out the other end. That’s the short answer.
The long answer: I first stepped onto stage at the age of six. It was a great passion of mine in my youth but took a backseat to film production as I moved into my adult years.
In October of 2019, on a whim, I decided to revisit my first love and auditioned for a lead role in a local community theater production of “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir”. Much to my surprise, I landed the part of Captain Gregg (the ghost). What followed was a string of shows, back to back, which led to being cast in an AEA production a few months later. I was on track to a promising new theater career -- Then COVID-19 hit and everything shut down.
My sudden whirlwind theatrical career, with all the crazy theater people I had met, was in limbo, yet had planted the seed of an idea for a 1/2 hour comedy pilot - “Stage Managed.” Since all the theaters were on forced hiatus and I didn’t have anything else to do, I said, “Whelp! I guess I don’t have no excuses... may as well make this thing happen!” I haven’t regretted a minute of that decision.
So, to all the theater nerds, choir geeks, and glee dorks who have earned my love and devotion over the years; to all the misfits and dreamers who ever trod the boards and basked in the warm wash of a low-rent grid full of par cans; to those who have dreamed against a Broadway fantasy when the world told them it was impossible: This one’s for you.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
I grew up in the theater and made the transition to filmmaking in college, but always held onto my love for the stage. When the pandemic hit, everything shut down in Hollywood and all of my friends were out of work, so I thought, "Hey, let's put something together to keep everyone working!" Then I had to come up with something that we could do on a shoestring budget, easy, not a lot of locations, and would hit a niche audience. That's when I came up with the idea of Stage Managed.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
Remarkably, not as much time as it usually takes for a project like this. Once I had the concept, I gathered a group of theater/film friends and we started framing the story. I wrote the first draft in a couple of weeks and launched straight into pre-production. We had a snafu with one of our locations which set us back, but all in, it was only a few months from start to finish.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Funding... what else? Granted, we did it on a shoestring budget, but we still had to pay location fees, insurance, crafty, meals, COVID safety, etc... and though most of our talent worked for free, the camera team (DP, Gaffer, Grip, Sound) never, EVER works pro-bono, so we had to come up with cash for all that. Distribution has also been a challenge, but we're not giving up!
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
LOVED IT! Most audiences these days are used to high budget studio pieces and tend to be a bit unforgiving when a project fails to be "pitch perfect" from the gate. Because of this, as Indy filmmakers, we always brace for the worst when faced with audience reactions. Granted, "Stage Managed" has had a great track record thus far (mockumentaries are great at hiding the flaws), but we understand it's a niche piece and not for everyone, so it's thrilling to hear what people loved about our work. There's no better feeling as a creator than hearing an audience connect with your work and truly "get it."
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I shot/chopped my first documentary at the age of 16 and decided to pursue film school straight out of high school.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
I don't tend to watch films over and over, but some films I love and have watched multiple times: Monty Python Holy Grail, Princess Bride, Unforgiven, Full Metal Jacket. Also a big fan of documentaries (big surprise).
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
Connecting to the Industry. Festivals are a fantastic stepping stone to a career in the industry and do a great job connecting the dots. I would love to have more of a connection with professionals that can help us out with next steps (e.g. Agents, Managers, Distributors, etc.). This town is all about who you know and indy filmmakers need to meet people who know people, if that makes sense?
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site? FilmFreeway has always been a great resource for filmmakers.
10. What is your favorite meal?
I'm going to go with sushi or any "authentic" Mexican dish.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I've been doing a lot of acting of late, because... well, that's what people are paying me to do. But on the production end, I'm focussed on getting "Stage Managed" off the ground and to series. That said, I always have various irons in the fire and working on different projects. It's just a matter of time before one of them hits (fingers crossed)!