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.”