By Teri Carnicelli
In the days of black-and-white television, when Westerns ruled the airwaves as well as the big screens, Arizona locales often were the backdrops for shows like “Have Gun Will Travel” and “The Rifleman,” and feature films like “Stagecoach” and “McClintock.” In those days, the state played host to such great names as Tyrone Power, Jimmy Stewart and of course John Wayne, as well as Jane Russell and Joan Crawford. Even Elvis waggled his hips here, in “Charro!”
In later years, Arizona’s diverse scenery could be spotted in such movies as “The Gauntlet” with Clint Eastwood, “Starman” with Jeff Bridges, “The Quick and the Dead” with Gene Hackman and a young Leonardo DiCaprio, “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” with newbie Keanu Reeves, and, of course, “Raising Arizona” with a very skinny Nicolas Cage.
It’s been some time since Hollywood has come calling, but that doesn’t mean films aren’t still being made in the Valley of the Sun. It just takes a little more work to get them noticed.
“Love a la Carte”
North Central resident Tim McSpadden jokingly calls it his “home movie,” mostly because he’s leveraged his home to the hilt in order to fund this feature-length, comedy-drama about infidelity.
“Love a la Carte” is a comedic fantasy about one couple’s struggling marriage and why, despite all the reasons they should break apart, their union is stronger together. McSpadden wrote the script and directed the movie, which was shot in various locations around the state including at a few North Central locations—namely, Camelback Garage, Phoenix City Hall, and the underpass below Camelback Road in the Biltmore shopping area, among others.
“I wrote and directed it myself because I knew I could, and also I wanted a certain level of quality,” McSpadden says. “Low-budgets tend to be shot in only one location with a few actors and a simple plot. I wanted to do a throwback comedy about infidelity. In comedy, a lot of funny things come from things that also can be quite painful. You have to make jokes about something in order to rise above it.”
He began casting in 2009 with Phoenix-based Good Faith Casting. Filming began in May 2010 and the last scene was filmed in July 2012 at the Old World Brewery. Now that the 90-minute film is complete, McSpadden is ready to let the public get a gander at it and give some feedback.
To that end, the film will be screened 7 p.m. every Saturday night in February at Super Savers Cinemas, 2710 W. Bell Road. Tickets are $9.75 in advance and can be purchased at www.facebook.com/lovealacarte or buy them for just $10 at the door.
McSpadden will introduce the film, and hand out comment cards. Some of the actors will be present at the screenings, and moviegoers will have the opportunity to not only chat with them but also purchase movie posters and T-shirts. In addition, raffle tickets will be given in exchange for a $19 tax-deductible donation to Movies Making A Difference Productions Inc., a nonprofit located in Scottsdale. Tickets could “win” such items as movie props, exercise equipment, a washer and dryer set, and even McSpadden’s 1994 Saturn four-door sedan.
With audience feedback, and some technical assistance from new Post-Production Producer Mark Trengrove of Blade Cuts Editorial in Phoenix, the film will be gussied up for national distribution. And with McSpadden’s background in marketing and promotion for the television and film industries, he’s confident he can ultimately find a wider audience for his film.
In a galaxy far, far away is a bumbling starship crew that seeks out—and basically ruins—new worlds and civilizations.
“Voyage Trekkers” is a comedy web series that follows the exploits of the worst crew in the Galactic Union, lead by the charismatic but impulsive Captain Sunstrike (Adam Rini), with the unfazed first officer Commander Powell (Logan Blackwell), and the exasperated Doctor Rena (Gabrielle Van Buren).
Created by writer and director Nathan Blackwell and his Squishy Studios, the show is produced with Tray Goodman’s Inside Creative Minds Media. Both men are Phoenix natives and still live in town.
“Everything is done locally; we’re all about local,” Goodman says.
Season One started out being shot around Phoenix, and each episode was 2 to 3 minutes in length. In all, there were 10 weekly episodes in the season, which are now available for purchase on DVD. Several hundred DVD’s were sold at last year’s Comicon in Phoenix.
Now “Voyage Trekkers” is ready to blast off with Season Two, and things have changed—for the better. Episodes are now longer, and they are shot primarily indoors at a film set built by the crew.
“We’ve basically built an entire starship set,” says Goodman, who calls the production “truly a labor of love.”
“Everyone involved, from cast and crew, volunteered their time for this web series,” Goodman explains. “What budget we had went to creating costumes, props, and feeding everyone.”
Goodman is no stranger to filmmaking, having been working in the industry in some capacity for more than 20 years. He’s even shot a feature-length film before, which he sold to an overseas distributor.
He and seasoned partner Blackwell are now considering making “Voyage Trekkers: The Movie.” But first, they will celebrate the launch of Season Two with a sneak peak preview, 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at FilmBar, 815 N. 2nd St. The show is for ages 21 (because the venue also is a bar) and tickets are $7. Seating is limited, so buy your tickets in advance at http://www.thefilmbarphx.com. The screenings will be followed by a Q & A session featuring Goodman and the cast and crew.
You’ll also be able to visit them once again at this year’s Comicon, where they will have DVDs of both seasons available for purchase. But if you can’t wait until then, check out their website at http://squishystudios.com/ voyage-trekkers-web-series. You also can “like” them on Facebook to unlock an exclusive video.