Over the last six months I’ve stretched myself from the stage to the silver screen in a way I never would have imagined. I wrote, produced and starred in my own short film, a romantic comedy called “50 Words”! We are currently in the midst of editing and the road to where we are now has been at times challenging, scary, thrilling, unbelievable, and wildly rewarding.
In the beginning, I was inspired to do this for a number of reasons. One, my love of the arts doesn’t begin and end on the stage. I’ve always had an interest in TV and film and have had great admiration for the people who produce something from scratch. Two, there are so many incredibly talented people that I’m friends with in my hometown of Sarasota; and not just actors but filmmakers, choreographers, sound engineers, and costumers. And I knew that all I needed was a good idea for a screenplay and then I could attempt to bring all these talented people together to accomplish something special.
It was with this seed of knowledge in the back of my mind that an idea came to me one day. I was asked to tell the love story of two of my dear friends at their marriage. They met online and it got me thinking about the process of finding love. Were I not happily married (which I totally am!), I asked myself how would I get myself “out there” to meet a man. Of course, my mind went straight to the theater world where it occurred to me I could replace my 50-word actor bio in the program with a personal ad, seeking my perfect match in the audience each night. At first I giggled at it and then lo and behold, here could be an idea for a short film!
And so, I set about writing it over a number of months. My talented mother (also a writer) helped flesh out the initial concepts with me (and must have read all 7,652,000 versions of it). I then approached my film-making partner in crime, Mark Palmer of Mars Vision Productions, about the idea. He read the script and was ready to join me in this escapade as co-producer, director, and director of photography. I also knew we’d need another producing powerhouse whose skill set complimented my own so we reached out to actor/singer/theater jack-of-all-trades, Jamie Lee Butrum and together, the three of us started setting the wheels in motion.
We filmed “50 Words” in eleven days starting in late September through November 2016. Locations included the Players Centre for Performing Arts, Florida Studio Theatre’s Bowne Lab, the Clever Cup Coffee Shop, and the Starlite Room.
Along the way, we made this nifty fundraising video. (We are still accepting donations! Visit our GoFundMe Page)
Got some great publicity:
Sarasota Herald Tribune: Behind the Scenes: Film debut reveals some lessons
Sarasota Magazine: Behind the Scenes of 50 Words, a New All-Local Short Film
Late Nite Orlando Talk Show: Why Not Tonight
Here are some stills from our shoots:
And we worked with all these people:
50 Words Cast
Mathew M. Ryder
Sharon Lesley Ohrenstein
Lindsey Nickel-de la O
Creative Team & Crew
Sharon Lesley Ohrenstein
And our Awesome Extras!
Lauren Wood, Jonathan Parks, Amanda Heisey, Rumen Minev, Elliott Raines, Brian Craft, Tamara Solum, Mike Solum, Lucinda Schlotterback, Barbara Wolf, Maverick Wolf, Patrick Sholtis, Grave Vitale, Joshua Seavey, Ross Boehringer, Charlotte Crowley, Casey Hyde, Phillip Croome, Gina Marie, Jason Demerin, CariAnn Newby, Brizaida Ribalta, Steve Dickman, Sharon Dickman, Drew Deininger, Joseph Visaggi, Gwen McCaw, Blythe Desiree, Kayli Brown, Kamryn Brown, Rise Wells, Susan Manino, Rik Robertson, Allyson, Anna Maria Larson, David Larson, Nicolas Pinzon, Theresa Russo, Barbara Gagush, Lynne Bernfield, Venise Duchesne, Jonah Duchesne-Shaw, Emarie Marcan, Petr Marcan, Carrie McQueen, Rik Robertson, Denise Whitney, Phillip Troyer, Marko Sumney
And a HUGE thank you to our supporters:
Executive Producers: Peter Salefsky, John Lagerholm, M/M Salmore, Arthur & Ellen Keiser
Assistant Producers: Jerry Seals, Jeffrey Jones
Special Thanks: Debbi White, Lyn and Pamela Wiley, Jordan Joseph, Jen Wohlforth, Steve Dickman, Dan Higgs, Nik Warren, Casey Hyde, Chris A.