WARNING! This is not journalism; this is me writing a story about me, my daughter and a few other close acquaintances. That being said I am certain you will find it a fascinating little story.
It really all started when a good friend called me and offered my daughter Kari Irwin an opportunity to audition for a feature film. “Well heck yeah and thanks” I blurted. But then I got a heads up. It seems the Executive Producer, the guy who writes the checks, has a granddaughter he believed to be perfect for the part Kari would audition for. It would be easy to cry foul but given the same circumstances I would do exactly the same thing as grandpa. So off we went to the audition. She did a great job as I expected, but two days later it was official, granddaughter got the gig.
As all of this was happening my friends at the Burbank Film Festival found themselves in need of a comedian/emcee to host a film festival event at Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank, California. The event date was August 14th and their regular go to guy was not available. Did I know anyone who could do the job? Well just a few days earlier I was holding a seminar at a Hollywood acting school and I met a guy by the name of Allen Rueckert. The whole class was made up of actors but Allen said he was also a standup comedian. So I then challenged him to stand up and be funny for a minute. He did and he was. Plus Allen has a very positive personality and with a very good attitude and obvious talent. So when asked I volunteered Allen Rueckert to be the host/emcee for the August 14th film festival event. Allen met with Ken Mora from the film festival and the deal was done.
A little later Ken Mora asked if I would bring my video camera and tape the event. I really didn’t want to because I was frankly a little down about my daughter not getting her acting gig. Again I wasn’t angry at the friends that recommended her and not even grandpa, but just ticked off at the circumstances. So I wasn’t in my usually cheery mood when Ken asked but I soldiered on and agreed. But I wanted someone else to run the thing so I could just relax and maybe laugh a little. Another friend, Ryan Ray aspiring actor agreed to be “cinematographer’ for the evening and all was well.
On August 14th all assembled at Flappers including one U.S. Army soldier T.J. Adams recently home on medical leave after being darn near fatally wounded in Afghanistan. The film Festival had agreed we would honor T.J. that night and it was a beautiful thing. The crowd cheered and T.J.’s family teared up. And as it turned out Allen Rueckert did a splendid job. In fact that particular festival event, number 5 in a series, was arguably the best to date.
The next day I unenthusiastically uploaded the video to my computer and did a rough edit on the material to put on youtube for the film festival. Because much of the show at Flappers consisted of showing short comedy movies, I found about 17 minutes of good usable video for Allen. For some reason that thought kept circling in my brain. I have 17 minutes of good video. What can I do with 17 minutes of good video? Not much actually. But if we added another 4 or 5 minutes or so we could have a 22 minute short and that can be sold or even pitched as a TV show. BAM! Like a lightening bolt we would have Kari do a post show interview with Allen, which would give us enough to cover the time requirement.
Now this idea of using Kari for the interview did not just drop out of thin air. She had been serving as the Teen Ambassador for the Burbank International Film Festival and as such had already done several celebrity interviews including with Kat Kramer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLTmPZo70bo&feature=related) and Bill Plympton (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu-bKAL8Sdk&feature=related). Besides she did have a solid acting resume and I had no doubt about her ability to carry the role as “straight man/girl” to Allen. So next I had to see how Allen felt about all of this. We met and he loved the idea.
The project was now officially born. But we had no budget. Things just do not happen in Hollywood with no budget. Well Allen and Kari and I all agreed that we could actually do this but we needed a proper place to shoot the last few minutes of video. We all have a mutual friend who runs a top end acting school in Hollywood complete with a good stage and lighting. So we asked our friend and he agreed to let us use the stage one day for an hour or so to finish our project. No cost, perfect for our budget.
The taping went better than expected and the material was all given to Allen Rueckert who in addition to his budding acting and comedy career is a professional video editor for a television network. Faster than a speeding bullet we had our 22 minute short comedy film/TV pilot. Now what?
Well I had already started an online video store which all are invited to check out at www.ronirwin.net. I use amazon.com for true global distribution and it actually works. So the DVD is already on its way and should be up in just a few days. In the meantime you can watch the trailer at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4uk0KKidMQ
Now we know that this little movie will never get the box office anywhere near an Avatar or Harry Potter (though I do think our little short is actually more entertaining than the last Harry Potter flick). Nor will it ever get an Academy Award nomination and it probably will never be seen on TV, but that could happen. If over the next year or two we manage to generate sales of 100,000 units, which is doable given the Amazon market potential of 7 billion people, we will have achieved an amazing level of success because while a major studio would see 100,000 ticket sales as an absolute blood bath, our budget was zero and their budget runs into the hundreds of millions.
Coming soon is our Hollywood premiere. We have secured a venue – free and in an amazing level of cooperation to keep this project at zero cost the wonderful people at K Mart in Burbank gave us a red carpet. I kid you not. So please, go buy something at K Mart.
What this proves, if nothing else, is that especially in these horrible economic times a good idea with a passionate commitment can still be completed. Yes the movie is far from perfect, but it is viewable and enjoyable and it was made with no budget. Watch it and I promise you will laugh, a lot. Consequently it can truly be said that with just one sale we are in profit. That fact alone should get us some kind “wild and crazy” award. To quote the great comedic actor Larry Hankin, “All comedy comes from anger.” Yep! Thank you so much grandpa.
Please do subscribe to this EXAMINER.