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Interview with Barry Stringfellow, Screenwriter of ONE LAST THING

Saturday, June 10---When screenwriter Barry Stringfellow was pitching his original screenplay of a teenage boy dying of cancer whose final wish is a date with a blonde supermodel, he was repeatedly asked how to much the film more "upbeat". Well cancer is never very upbeat, but, as Virginia Woolf famously said, "a character needs to die so that the other characters can value life".

That is the sentiment and the message of Stringfellow's alternately moving and hilarious ONE LAST THING, directed by Alex Steyermark. The film follows the final weeks of its determined teenage protoganist, as he deals with an overprotective mother, lunkish friends and the supermodel of his dreams, who is on her own course of self-destruction. The film's spiritual overtones and its honest and refreshing view of death and dying have touched audiences here at the Troia International Film Festival.

The film, produced in high definition television format by HDNet Films, was released last month in the US by Magnolia Pictures in a controversial strategy that allowed for a limited theatrical release immediately followed by the film's availability on dvd. The distribution experiment is suddenly en vogue in the distribution community, yet remains controversial for the film's artistic contributors.

Sandy Mandelberger sat down with Barry Stringfellow to discuss his inspiration for making the unique film and his plans for future projects.

Sandy Mandelberger: What inspired you to create your film project?
Barry Stringfellow: The spark for the story came from a story about a sixteen-year-old boy from South Dakota whose final wish was to shoot a bear. The poor kid suddenly found himself in the middle of a controversy (like he didn’t already have enough to deal with). I felt bad for him. This was a rite of passage in his part of the world that he’d never get to experience. I thought about what I’d ask for if I had the cojones to be that honest. What started out as a broad premise tapped into a wellspring of emotion I’d been carrying around for six years since my father’s death.

SM: What was the greatest challenge in realizing your film project?
BS: Major studios and production companies all met with me and praised the script and then told me why they’d never make it. Some passed because they didn’t think a sixteen-year-old boy could carry a film. One said they could move forward if the kid didn’t die. I explained this would be like Dorothy staying in Oz and saying “Screw Kansas.


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Online Dailies from the 22nd Troia International Film Festival

Dates: 2-11 June 2006


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