February 26, 2016
During a recent outing at the UA Riverview Plaza Stadium 17 in South Philly, I had the pleasure of seeing the creepy, period piece thriller "The Witch," an unnerving horror film set in Colonial-era New England. While I enjoyed it, the crowd -- quite vocally -- did not, with many expressing their displeasure with raucous boos, leaving the theater with the wish they could get their $12 back.
From friends, family and those exiting movie theaters, I've often heard the tired old complaint that there's simply "nothing good out." Yet if you're disappointed with the big-budget Hollywood productions, you ought to look a little deeper. Here in Philly there's a vibrant movie scene full of independent filmmakers working on exciting projects. The best part? Their work is often free online or showed at festivals or premieres which ask for small entrance fees or donations.
To prove that point, here's a sampling of local film projects either already out or in the works. Be warned: many of the trailers and videos includes explicit language, violence and suggestive themes.
Use your penchant for binge watching to learn more about this fine city of ours with "Philadelphia: The Great Experiment," a 14-part documentary series which traces Philly's roots all the way from 1600 through 1994. It's produced by former mayoral candidate Sam Katz and is chock-full of expert interviews, historical footage and more. The series originally ran on 6ABC and all episodes are available online.
Full disclosure: the author is acting in an upcoming movie from filmmakers Scott Bigos and Taylor Johnson (which is by far the most pretentious thing I've ever written). But just because they
bribed me to include this short are friends of mine doesn't make this short comedy any less worthy of attention. It follows a desperate attempt at love via the Internet, leading to a series of lies from a hapless 20-something. It's out now, so you can just, like, you know, watch it!
Think "The Town" meets a Philly suburb. I got a sneak peek of this short from Levittown filmmaker Chris Romano before it premieres in April, and here's what you'll get out of it: a tightly-packed crime drama, sometimes filled with profanity-laced humor but mostly stuffed with an emotionally-charged narrative of a man torn between ditching his life of illegal activity or performing a heist to shore up funds to support his young daughter. On top of that, there's an elderly woman in it who drops enough f-bombs to fill a swear jar. It's set to premiere at The Diamond In The Rough Cut Festival on April 8th, and you can find more information on Facebook.
Do you like cosplay comedy? Did you even know that was a thing? Local filmmaker Jay Miller is producing and serving as director of photography on a follow-up short to this quirky action comedy where two clueless role-playing aficionados are saved by a badass female protagonist who fights off a zombie of some sort. Miller is also responsible for a short documentary on up-and-coming Philly musician Abi Reimold, who was recently featured in PhillyVoice. Production on the sequel started in February. You can watch the first one above and follow along with updates on the movie's Facebook page.
From Philly-based Breaking Glass Pictures comes a UFC film starring none other than Ronda Rousey-defeater Holly Holmes. Look, I don't get the ultimate fighting craze and probably never will, but for those who are into it, this feature film shot in Camden looks like it'll have all the kicking and punching and more kicking and more punching that you'd want. It's being released this summer and you can find out more on Facebook.
I'd be lying if I didn't say the trailer for this series, which follows a group of paramedics, looks pretty corny. Then again, "Law & Order," "CSI" and almost every other procedural is rather cheesy, and let's face it, who hasn't found themselves in a daze on the couch at 4 a.m. after six straight episodes of "Special Victims Unit?" What this show does have going for it is writer/producer Chuck Rayner is a former paramedic himself, giving him a mastery of the subject material. The use of real ambulances and cop cars also make it feel pretty legit. Rayner says the pilot episode will be on YouTube soon and you can get updates on the show on Facebook.
Working on a short, feature film or music video you want to share? Email the author or Entertainment@PhillyVoice.com and let us know!