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The Indie Spirit

From Todd Reynolds, who played Detective Bud Flanek...


So yesterday afternoon saw a wrap on the shooting of the short Lee Goldberg film Remaindered. Today, as I bask in the afterglow, sipping a cup of Sassafras tea, I cannot help but reflect on how nice it is to be involved in interesting projects. To forge new friendships and cement old ones. To be around creative people, working together in good humor on something that they love.

It's very exciting to see what is happening in the Ohio River Valley, in the area of Independent Film-making. My first foray into the world of Indy was waaaaaay back in the mid 80's, when a couple of guys named Lewis Chaney and Dave Snyder adapted a short story I'd written into a short film by the same name; Puppy Love. Lewis allowed me access to the process in several ways after he'd adapted the story to the screen. I got to play one of the characters, he took my suggestion to film in black and white, and explained shots and ideas to me all along the way. I'd always wanted to film something...ANYTHING...and submit it to the Kentucky Educational Television Film Festival, and these guys had shared that idea. So in it went, and who would have won!

Fast forward to 2008. My next step into Indyland was when two new guys....PJ Starks and Rodney Newton sat on the couch in my living room, spinning the tale of mayhem that turned out to be their project, Hallow's Eve: Slaughter on 2nd Street! Slasher flicks weren't really my cup of tea, but helping out two creative young guys who had a clear passion for what they were doing was. I jumped in with both feet, and eventually got fake blood all over them, (my feet, that is...) appearing in the film as Buck Masters. Those guys still call me that, and as goofy as the name is, I love it every time they do.

Proving that one good thing leads to another, when Rodney and PJ were talking to a fellow named David Breckman about a short film project to be produced in conjunction with the International Mystery Writer's Festival for their awards show, they mentioned to the LA Writer/Producer that they had, indeed, just completed a film. He immediately showed interest and excitement in their work, and one viewing later, asked if I was available to help on his film, Murder in Kentucky, in the role of the Policeman. Well, I was already busy doing the Radio Shows in the festival, and it would be a heavy workload so I would really have to give it a lot of thought YES I'LL DO IT!

During the filming of Murder in Kentucky, which took place in the reportedly haunted environs of RiverPark Center, I'd noticed something strange all during the shooting process. On the periphery, there seemed to be a presence lurking. Movement would register out of the corner of your eye, but turning to see who or what it was....nothing was there! It happened time and time again in that single night and following morning of filming. Movement in the shadows, what sounded like a clearing of the throat, more people in a crowd than there had been a moment before...and always nothing or no one there! Finally, toward the end of filming, I caught sight of the entity. A tall, dark man....he looked a bit like Owensboro native Johnny Depp, but with a slightly larger nose.Just a glimpse, mind you....and then he was gone. But I knew I would never forget that face.

I attended the Awards Show that year with family and friends, other members of the Murder in Kentucky cast and crew, along with my dear pals among the Radio crowd, a unique breed who have learned to read the printed word without rattling papers. Imagine my surprise when the emcee of the evening appear from beyond the curtain, and it was the ghost from filming! Lee Goldberg! Holy Cow! He's Famous!!

So now here we are. 2010. Having gotten no black marks from the experience from his buddy Dave Breckman, Lee asks me to be a cop again. And who, in their right mind, would refuse.

Remaindered has been a wondrous experience. The thing I liked best, was being able to hang around and watch the process. Engage with the people. Reconnect with old friends, like Lewis Chaney and Theresa Chadwick from Puppy Love; PJ Starks, Rodney Newton and Robert Denton from Hallows Eve. Adam Tyler and Laura Ambrose from Murder in Kentucky. To get to meet and work with talented actors such as Eric Altheide, Sebrina Siegel and Lisa Baldwin. To schmooze with ALL of the talented, dedicated people on the crew, starting with First Assistant Director Rachael Nunn.The person who made the experience such a pleasant and rewarding one, was Director Lee Goldberg. Setting the tone with humorous tales of Hollywood hijinx, butchering a French accent in stories of his wife (and yes, she knows he does this...I've spoken to her on the phone, and she doesn't sound a THING like Inspector Clouseau), and jumping in to even the smallest tasks.....such as trimming shrubbery and moving furniture...Lee showed that it was to be a truly "All for one, one for all" sort of affair.He was, with assistance from AD Rachael and script Supervisor Pablo Gallastegui, able to keep things running apace, bringing the filming in on time, and doing it without a "Snidely Whiplash" attitude. He allowed everyone to flex their creative muscles, soaked up their input and made decisions on the fly in a seemingly effortless manner. He was an actor's director, a technician's director, stayed true to his script, and made it all look very easy, which was the result of months of hard work with his feet up on his desk, meticulously planning for every detail and eventuality. It was a pleasure to watch him work.

And the effect that the weekend has had on the Ohio River Valley Independent Film community? It remains to be seen. However, each time these folks meet to collaborate, wonderful things happen. It had started before shooting Remaindered...this mingling of the teams. I hope it is a snowball that continues to gather momentum until it rolls over everyone who needs to be a part of it, turning into something truly remarkable. Who knows where it will lead? All I know is, I want to be a part of it.

It's a great time to be alive!

Thank you Lee. Thank you everybody!

Pictured above: Todd Reynolds and Sebrina Siegel


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