Written by Melina Chadbourne, Marketing Assistant and Journalist
This year, Azure Lorica was fortunate enough to attend the Feel Good Film Festival. The Feel Good Film Festival is a non-profit film showcase of short and feature length films that have a feel-good quality. On August 12-14th, the Feel Good Film Festival was held at Raleigh Studios in Los Angeles. The audience could contribute their vote of the films with a feel-good rating which would ultimately determine the winners of the Feel Good Film Festival. This year the winning films were The Italian Key for best feature film, Sudden Death for best short film, In the Key of Eli for best good feature, and Aphasia for best good short. Unfortunately, the ones I was able to check out did not win any although were still fantastic and definitely had a feel good quality to it.
The first film I got to see was the short Marvin of the Movies, which was its world premiere. Directed and produced by Barbara Shroeder, it is a documentary about the owner of the largest private collection of movies in the world, Marvin Eisenman. In his 80s, Marvin could remember much of Hollywood’s history and details of every movie. Unfortunately, Marvin past away just after the film was completed.
Next was the Los Angeles premiere of The Man in the Red Suit, a written and directed by Kevin Callies who later spoke with me after the showing. It stars two talented and professional young brothers Elijah and Micah Nelson who were attending the festival. Inspired by Getty Images of Santa Claus and a boy peeping over a fence, the story revolves around two brothers on Christmas Eve. For the older brother, the illusion of Santa becomes shattered when the eldest brother sneaks downstairs and catches his parents putting the presents in front of the tree instead of Santa. In order to not spoil the illusion the next morning for his younger brother, the older brother helps his parents “carry on the idea and the spirit of Santa Claus and Christmas,” writer/director Kevin Callies says. “There’s a loss of innocence and it’s really nostalgic for me because I was probably one of the oldest kids out of my group to find out that Santa Claus wasn’t real. My little brother found out before I did,” Callies laughed admittedly.
The short took two days to shoot in Oregon where the two young actors are originally from. Callies said “It was on the first day of shooting, I’m sitting there blocking a shot and I’m giving Micah some direction and he looks at me and goes ‘I know’, I was like, okay I’m just going to sit back. They know exactly what they are doing.” Callies who originally is from Oklahoma City, has always been an artist drawing and painting but only in college at Oklahoma University did he discover the film program in the basement of the art school. “They had 60mm camera when I made that transition to be a filmmaker,” says Callies who now often writes and directs family films. “I’ve written a family adventure mystery and that was a couple years ago and I’m in post production on a trailer for a feature script I wrote which is another fantasy adventure family movie.” As for Elijah and Micah, Elijah says, “My whole family did acting but they didn’t really catch onto it. Our parents saw that we liked acting and we were good at it so they starting putting us in acting classes and I got my first commercial at four years old.” Immediately his younger brother Micah piped in matter-of-factly, “I got my first commercial at three.” After six months now in LA, the boys are busy with their blooming acting careers including Elijah’s role as Abraham Lincoln’s son, Willy Lincoln. “They are the two most professional actor I’ve ever worked with,” says Callies.
The feature film in the timeslot was My Wedding and Other Secrets, a romantic comedy based on the documentary Banana In a Nutshell, a true story of its co-writer and director. The idea around the title comes from the banana representing Asians who have grown up in a western world and are said to be “yellow on the outside, and white on the inside” explains one of the films stars, Mike Ginn who plays Vincent. Based in New Zealand, the story centers around a very traditional Chinese family with three daughters and strict rules, especially when it comes to dating. The youngest, Emily Chu, is a qwerky and struggling film student who meets her husband-to-be, James, in a fencing class. Both adorably awkward, the characters fit together perfectly and soon they find themselves secretly falling in love. Secretly because if Emily’s family ever knew she was dating a white boy she would be disowned just as her father threatened to do with Emily’s older sister. Additionally in order to pursue her career ambitions, Emily suggests to James to have a secret marriage in order to obtain a type of student loan from her university meant for only married students. Cultures begin to clash, tensions run high, and soon James struggles living his marriage and life as a secret. It was a very well made film with very talented and refreshing actors and characters.
Mike Ginn was there to talk a about the film. Ginn plays Vincent, the typical choice for a husband for Emily because he is Asian and a family friend. Ginn says “She made this biographical documentary and this feature film was based on that so this whole story is her life and it’s her baby. The characters are pretty much the same but with different names. It was only recently that I actually found out that my character was based on a real character too. There were a lot of scenes that were take straight out of the documentary, so it was closely based on that documentary.” Originally from Aukland, New Zealand, Ginn moved to Los Angeles seven months ago. “It was my first time seeing it,” Ginn said, “I had a good cry. A man cry.”