BELLOWS FALLS -- The motion picture "Driving Miss Daisy" was wildly popular when it was released in 1989, receiving four of the Academy Awards it was nominated for.
But it is unlikely stars Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman would have ever imagined the classic shot as a 1980s talk show.
Nevertheless, that was the assignment for Paul Mekdeci's team, which shot a 15-minute movie in one weekend. The project was part of the second No Film Film Festival, which is set for a premier screening at the Bellows Falls Opera House at 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 29. Doors open at 5. As per the festival's title, all movies will be shown on a digital projector.
After shooting no longer than a week earlier this month, 16 teams submitted their re-imagined 1980s classics with a funky twist. All submissions had to span between seven and 15 minutes and pair a popular ‘80s movie with a randomly selected genre. The event kicked off on Friday, May 31, and submissions had to be in by Friday, June 7.
Mekdeci's team -- known as The Bratt Macs and made up of his husband Patrick Brown, friend Amanda Matt and her husband Eric Matt (all associated with Brown's store, Brown Computer Solutions Inc.) -- initially had to make a version of "Driving Miss Daisy" as a musical but got to record it as a talk show instead.
Mekdeci said his friends were initially opposed to his choice but they eventually warmed up to the idea.
"It worked out great. Once I explained my vision to everyone, they were all on board," he told the Reformer. He said it was great to get "Driving Miss Daisy," as his team needed a movie with heavy dialogue because it could not produce quality special effects.
Mekdeci said The Bratt Macs' movie, "The Pettifog of the Pansies," took just two days to make and went much more smoothly than last year's movie, in which the team used a lot of improv. He said his team's latest movie tells the tale of a dysfunctional mother and son who experience chaos and are being sent on a road trip by a talk show. Mekdeci, 33, plays the son (Freeman Pansy) and said the biggest challenge was using make-up correctly to have Amanda Matt (Tandy Pansy), who is five years his junior, look as though she is his mother.
"It was a lot of fun. It was a really enjoyable experience," Mekdeci said, adding that his team is looking forward to seeing all the other submissions.
The festival is a fundraiser for FACT TV and is a unique event. The idea got its genesis after FACT TV filmmaker Joe Isenberg took part in a film festival in which each movie had to be completed within 48 hours. Tickets to the premier screening are $15 each or $10 each for people in parties of four or more.
"Last year was great. We had a lot of great films and the turnout was great," said FACT TV Director Jacob Stradling. The biggest difference this year is that the screening will not be held on a Friday afternoon.
"Hollywood can't even sell out matinees," he said with a laugh.
Stradling said some other projects include "Poltergeist" as an alien film, "Field of Dreams" as a romance film (tagline: If you build it, she will come), "The Karate Kid" as a documentary and the same movie as a crime drama with an interesting twist between the main characters, Daniel and Mr. Miyagi. There will be teams from San Francisco, Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina, Connecticut and New Hampshire.
The team from New Hampshire is last year's champion, Gail Golec and her friends from the Walpole Players, a local theatre group. Golec's team was tasked with producing "Amadeus" as a romance film.
"It went really, really well. We have a group of people we've worked with before and that helped move things along," Golec said. The name of her film is "The White Man's Overbite: The Birth of Airband."
She said last year's experience helped teach her team how to budget its time well. Golec said she plays a minor role as a waitress but focused on directing, while she wrote the script with Tom Durnford and Becky Pearson.
"The cast and crew had a great time with it," she said. "It came out pretty well, if I do say so myself."
Completed entries will be voted on by the audience and a panel of judges. The "Best of the Best" awards will be announced following the voting, with a special screening of the winners at Popolo restaurant at 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 13. The winner will receive a Black Magic Cinema Camera, according to Stradling.
Get your tickets at the door or follow this link to purchase online and see the schedule: http://www.nofilmfestival.org.
For more information, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 802-463-1613.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.