Arts & Culture » The Green Room

A big name on the short circuit

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If Oprah's book club has taught me anything, it's to not sweat the small stuff. But for Orlando-based Stars North Films, it's the little things, indeed -- i.e., the short subjects the company grinds out like clockwork -- that are keeping the operation in the public eye while bigger projects prove slow going.

Stars North's last two cinematic morsels, "The Chad Effect" and "King Pathetic Creep," will be screened at GiggleShorts, a film festival specializing in comedic short subjects that's set for Aug. 22 through 25 in Toronto, Canada. According to Stars North co-founder Todd Thompson, the festival's organizers requested that the two films be submitted after learning of their existence via an industry website. The booking comes on the heels of "The Chad Effect"'s April 6 screening in Tampa as part of the second annual Tambay Film & Video Festival, an event that featured many Orlando-spawned entries.

"The Chad Effect," sadly, won no award there -- a slight I had intended to ameliorate by pointing out that the gathering's opening-night feature was "Heavy Metal Comedy," a concert film starring underwhelming "Saturday Night Live" alum Jim Breuer. But Thompson, who attended Tambay with his partner, Balinda DeSantis, says that it is "a cool little festival" nonetheless. Obviously, playing second fiddle at a Breuer-headlined affair has not gotten their goat (boy).

Locals will receive a refresher course in Stars North output in July, when Time-Warner Cable's "Showcase Shorts" program airs "The Chad Effect," "King Pathetic Creep" and the company's first film, "The Paper Route," on a one-per-week basis. But Thompson and DeSantis' leap into feature films still has no definite timetable. The funding they had sought to film the crime comedy "Shooting Blanks" never materialized, and the script eventually reverted to its author, Bob DeRosa. A few weeks ago, DeRosa sold the script ... to the very backers Stars North had courted.

Neither DeRosa nor Thompson, however, rules out potential involvement in some capacity when and if "Shooting Blanks" goes before the cameras. But instead of sitting on their hands, Thompson and DeSantis are forging ahead with the development of their next short, a drama titled "Time and Again." They also are engaging in some creative commerce to enhance their brand name. Visit www.starsnorth.com to find an online store that trades in official memorabilia, including movie posters and -- coming soon! -- the actual slippers actor Ian Covell wore in his role as a magical genie in "King Pathetic Creep." One size fits all.

It's questionable that anyone will shell out big money for "merchandise from a movie they've never seen, worn by an actor they've never heard of," which is how Covell himself describes the slippers. Reached for comment in Los Angeles, where he now lives, the actor expressed surprise at the sale. "I knew I should have had a merchandising deal put into my contract," he reflected with fake chagrin.

Then again, this is the same guy who, when he still called Orlando home, once auctioned off a measly afternoon of his companionship -- a prize that was subject to some clearly delineated ground rules. ("We can play video games together. If we go to the movies, you pay.") So maybe small stuff is in the eye of the beholder. Either way, I wouldn't sweat it.

"Son" rises

The locally produced documentary "My Father's Son" [The Green Room, April 4] has been accepted into this year's Florida Film Festival (June 7 through 16 at Enzian Theater and various area locations.) The film -- a portrait of homelessness crafted by partners Eric Breitenbach and Ben Van Hook -- is the first feature of Orlando origin ever to play in competition at the festival.

Many of the other competing films (in both the narrative and documentary categories) reflect a multicultural bent: Sherman Alexie's "The Business of Fancy Dancing" is a dramatic inquiry into Native-American identity, while the ensemble piece Face mixes Asian-heritage themes with an appearance by Treach of Naughty by Nature. Music is a major component in its own right, with biographies of jazz vocalist Jimmy Scott and lesbian folk singer Phranc vying for honors. But the film that really piques my interest is "The Backyard," a doc about the vicious pastime of backyard wrestling. Competitors, it seems, use every weapon at their disposal, including light bulbs, barbed wire, mouse traps and staple guns. Hmmm ... do I sense a party theme here?

Capstone and gown

The graduating seniors of the University of Central Florida film program showed their "capstone" thesis shorts May 1 at Enzian, granting the outside world a glance at a few embryonic but promising filmmaking personas. Glenn Abbott showed a jack-of-all-trades formidability by directing, writing and scoring his own sci-fi musical, "Monstar," while the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink visual style and anguished familial drama of Mark Romano's "Untitled" bespoke a cross between Iris and Buffalo 66. Sounds bizarre, I know, but it worked. And I bet Romano's a nicer guy to be around than Vincent Gallo, anyway.

While you were art

Back from his honeymoon and ready to assume operation of the Art Space gallery [The Green Room, May 2], Victor Perez plans to hold shows there every Thursday in June, July and (probably) August. On the third Thursday of each month, the promoter promises a mammoth conclave of "all the artists I can fit into the room." (Pickpock-ets take note.)

Not limiting himself to Thornton Park activity, Perez has a show of large-scale works scheduled for May 17 in the loft space above Winter Park Village's Cheesecake Factory. That's awfully close to the site that almost hosted his most recent "Nude Nite" before it was bounced downtown. But the loft that will house Perez's "Big Art Show" is under completely different proprietorship, so he fears no last-minute heave-ho. What a relief; that big art is awfully hard to move.


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