FILMAKERS MAKE MOVIE FROM SCRATCH

NEWPORT INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
RHODES ISLAND - JUNE 5TH-10TH 2001
By BRIAN CAROVILLANO, Associated Press Writer


NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) - The challenge: Start from scratch. Come up with a story line and a plot. Add professional actors, crew and director and make a movie.

The catch: Do it all in five days and be prepared to show it to filmmakers and critics from around the world.

Oh, and by the way, there's no budget.

That was how ``Five Days to Sunday'' was made by the Newport Film Project, part of the fourth annual Newport International Film Festival. After a marathon weekend editing session at a rented cottage in Middletown, the 7-minute improvisational comedy debuted Sunday at the city's Opera House Cinema.

``Not only are we doing it in five days, we're doing it on five dollars,'' said the producer, Steph Accetta, a production supervisor on the NBC show ``Providence.''

It was the second year the project ran concurrently with the festival. This time, the production team was comprised entirely of Rhode Islanders.

Work began Tuesday with a public brainstorming session where festival-goers got to pitch ideas for the film.

``By the end of the night we had a two-page outline,'' said Accetta, who lives in Cranston.

A casting company lined up the talent, including members of a Boston comedy troupe, Improv Asylum. The lead actress was Libby Langdon, producer of ``Say You'll Be Mine,'' which premiered at the festival Sunday.

``Five Days to Sunday'' was shot Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at spots around Newport by Narragansett director Leif Husted-Jensen.

Actors and filmmakers who were in town for the festival found their way into the film. Former ``Six Million Dollar Man'' Lee Majors made a cameo, as did Pawtucket native Michael Corrente, Langdon's husband and director of ``Shot at Glory,'' a film starring Robert Duvall that premiered this year at Newport.

Everything was donated, including the time of the actors and crew. Sony loaned a high-definition video camera.

On Friday, Husted-Jensen shot a scene inside the opera house with three dozen extras packed into the first four rows. ``You're seeing a horrible movie,'' he instructed them. ``Act disgusted, or just sit there stony-faced.''

As he rolled by slowly on a wheeled dolly, face pressed to the camera's eyepiece, the characters ad-libbed their lines. The audience members adopted dour expressions, and after eight takes, Husted-Jensen was satisfied with the outcome.

``I've never done any improv, but it's a lot of fun,'' said Langdon. ``With each take I'm saying something different, so it'll be fascinating what ends up in the film.''

Langdon and Improv Asylum co-founder Norm Laviolette played sleazy New York producers who bring a trashy film to the Newport festival. Chet Harding, another Improv Asylum co-founder, played an impostor director whose mysterious film becomes the talk of the festival.

The actors themselves weren't sure where the plot would take them.

``We just keep making things up as we go along,'' said actress Monique Bourgery. ``Nobody really knows how it's going to turn out. Every time I feel like I have a grasp I lose it.''


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For more information on the Film Festival go to Newport Film Festival

Newport International Festival photo's on this page used by kind permission of Susan Sarantos: http://www.newportbytes.com