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Fourth Annual Mockfest at Hollywood

December 01
22:04 2010

Host Neelam Singh with Shannon Theule

LOS ANGELES: November 14th marked the third and final day at 4th Annual MockFilmFest, held at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. I attended the four o’clock showing, entitled Alternative Visions, which included the feature length “To Kill a Mockumentary,” as well as numerous shorts: “Enlightened!, “Mondo Penguin,” “Midlife,” “The Gospel According to Matthew,” and “Runyon: Above Sunset.”

Mickey Rooney opened “Alternative Visions,” with an insightful speech on the filmmaking process and artistry. He was honored with the Lifetime Achievement in Comedy Award, MockFilmFest 2010.

The star of “The Gospel According to Matthew,” Matthew Lesko was also in attendance. Lesko is perhaps best known as “The Question Mark Man” from infomercials on how to get free money from the government. He answered audience questions on his philosophy (be yourself) and how get assistance from the government in film-making ventures.

Guil Claveria, the festival director is second from the right, beside McLovin (on Guil's right) from Superbad- his real name is Christopher Charles Mintz-Plasse

I was lucky enough to meet with some of the visionaries behind “To Kill a Mockumentary,” which was filmed on an impressive $200,000 budget. The film is about a group of mockumentary filmmakers who are working on their first studio feature. Hank, the director, has some problems with keeping everything running smoothly; namely, a controlling producer, a diva with substance abuse who keeps making “magic” brownies, a ‘Star Search’ brother/sister duo, an old Western actor with memory loss, a conceited hot stud actor, and Hank’s own fears that his wife may be having an affair with his male lead. As personalities clash, hilarity ensues.

I talked with Stephen Wallis, the director and co-writer (with Shawna Waldron), who said he shot the film in 15 days, mostly in the American Legion Hollywood Post 43. Wallis is also the president of Damn Good Entertainment, the company with produced “To Kill a Mockumentary.”

I also caught up with Terry Scannell, who plays Hank, the lead. Scannell said his involvement in the film was very last minute. The actor who had been cast to play the lead had backed out. Andrew Keegan, who plays Spencer, called Scannell to see if he could read for the lead part. Scannell came in, read, and was on set the next morning.

Also included in the cast are: Mickey Rooney, Edie McClurg, Tim Thomerson, Shawna Waldron, Jason London, Brian Krause, Scott Grimes, George Murdock, Glenn Shadix, Park Overall, Richard Kline, Charlie O’Connell, Greg Joelson, Melissa Wyler, Jan Rooney, Jamie Donahue, Jennifer Lyons and Jimmy Workman. Edie McClurg (Estelle) and Tim Thomerson (Will) stood out as the druggie Diva and the forgetful Western star. McClurg played Estelle with a loony vivaciousness that was hysterical. The shared scenes shared by McClurg and Thomerson were funny, often touching, and always a joy to watch.

Host Neelam Singh Welcomes the Guests

I also spoke with the cast of “Enlightened!” a hilarious short film parodying (in a friendly fashion) the types of people involved in New Age spirituality. The film follows Nyutsek (played my Christopher Meeham), a spiritual guru, who urges his followers to “let go,” whilst refusing to acknowledge his impending divorce to his wife, Gangly (played by Lilli Birdsell).Tara Emerson, who wrote the film and plays Sister True Ecstasy, said she was inspired by “Waiting for Guffman” and “The Office,” as well as well people she has met from her own experiences with New Age spiritualism. Also in attendance were Ted Fenton, the film’s producer; and Windell Middlebrooks, who plays Free Bird, Nyutsek’s most loyal disciple who offers colorful insight into what it takes to become enlightened.

The beginnings of “Enlightened!” were small. Emerson had told friend (and the film’s eventual producer) Ted Fenton that she was working on a collection of scenes inspired by her adventures in New Age spiritualism. Fenton joked he’d produce the collection and organized a table with actors and filmmakers.

Everyone involved fell in love with script and Fenton decided to produce the project, jokingly or not. Emerson and Fenton were able to put together an extremely professional crew, gleamed mostly from the “My Name Is Earl” production team. Although they ran into a few obstacles, both Emerson and Fenton say the production was a work of love and pure joy.

Full Cast: Christopher Meehan, Paul Schulze, Lilli Birdsell, Jonathan Slavin, David H. Lawrence XVII, Windell Middlebrooks, Michele Santopietro, Tara Emerson, Ted Fenton, Jessa French, and Wesley McCoy.

6:30 marked the awards ceremony. The highest honor, the Zelig Award for Overall Excellence and Innovation in Mockumentary Filmmaking, went to “The Chronoscope,” written and directed by Andrew Legge and produced by Morgan Bushe.

Magda Marcella

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