"A guy loses a Super Bowl bet and has to call back every woman he ever dated and dumped."
My screenwriting professor, Tom Stempel, wanted five one-line ideas for a film. I had four. I was stumped for a fifth. I thought of what my father, the wise Bob Radochia, would tell me, "Just give them an answer. That's all they want. It doesn't have to be right". I thought I could apply this wisdom here, telling myself, "Just write a line, any line that comes to you. You don't have to have a story behind it."
So I wrote the above quote. Of course, Mr. Stempel, good ol' Tom, gave an A to only that idea and wanted me to write a treatment for it. Darn, he called my bluff.
Sometimes it's better when you start with nothing, because you're completely open and can just let things come to you. Being that it was 2002 and the New England Patriots had just won their first Super Bowl, I started with my lead character, Eddie, as being a New England fan who always expected his teams to choke. He scoffs at the idea that the Patriots can beat the Rams, so when his friend's wife gets on his case about being a commitment-phobe who dumps women without reason, and without actually informing them, he says he'll call all his exes if the Patriots beat the Rams.
Eddie almost forgets the bet because he does get sucked into the game. While he lives with a glass is half-empty attitude, deep down he is looking for a happy ending, with a hope that anyone can be a champ if they want it enough and work for it. I was really taking the drive of Tom Brady to be the best he can be and applying it to Eddie's attempt to better himself as a man.
The idea came so quickly to me because I was incredibly moved by the Patriots' Super Bowl win. I felt lucky that on top of being one dang happy New England fan (who was a fan since the days of Steve Grogan), I had something inspirational around which to weave a plot thread. The story wrote itself, as I applied the idea of being a champion to one's personal life. Then, I imagined some of my friends playing the characters I was developing. Just putting people in as those characters let me watch the movie in my head. I felt that I was just copying down the script as I was watching.
While I wrote the script in 2002, because of my other 3 projects, I didn't film EDDIE'S until 2004. At that point I updated the script, not only cutting out a little dialogue but changing the ending to include the Patriots' second Super Bowl win. I had originally cast a friend of mine to play Eddie and I had someone in mind to play Jennifer. So I really auditioned actors only for the parts of Mike and Maureen. I really wanted two very Boston people for this couple. I saw a lot of people from Boston, but casting was tougher than I had anticipated. I needed not only two people who had the right energy for these parts but who would have the right chemistry together. They didn't have to have the thickest Boston accents, but I wanted a certain Boston feel to them.
Christine Fazzino brought both a subtlety and spiciness to the role of Maureen. She had an understated charm that was compelling. While I wasn't sure, after the first auditions, whom I was leaning towards to play Maureen, after the callbacks, I was sold on her. There was something really special that shined through. She had the right quirkiness for Maureen but kept it real, dimensional and intelligent.
When I got Ryan O'Quinn's headshot, I saw nothing on his resume that indicated he was from Boston or could do a Boston accent. It looked like he was from the south, and I thought right away, well, you can't have a Southern guy play a Bostonian. But, something told me to call him anyway. When he came to read for me, I was still attached to having a Bostonian, but Ryan read Mike with the energy I was looking for. While I had seen a bunch of guys who had Boston accents, and who could act, Ryan just *was* Mike more than anyone else. He also came off as very respectful and hard working, which, of course, is always a big plus for me. I thought that he and Christine would be a very believable couple as well. I decided that the qualities that Ryan had were so much more important to the character and the film than being a New Englander. Now Ryan is a really funny actor who can do a range of accents, but, rather than have him do a Boston accent, I just decided, that hey, Mike is a guy from the south who married a Bostonian and became a die-hard Pats fan. Or he had been a fan anyway. I mean, I know the south has some Patriots fans down there!
After I held auditions, I found that my original Eddie and Jennifer couldn't do the film. I went back through my headshot file and looked for guys who would make a good Eddie. The first person who came to mind was Michael Contrastano. When he submitted his picture for the role of Mike, I thought that he probably would not be a good Mike, that he looked too similiar to Eddie (I wanted a strong contrast between Mike and Eddie), but I had him come in to read for Mike anyway. His read showed he could act, but I didn't have him come to callbacks because, as I had thought, he just wasn't a Mike. I was having a feeling in the back of my mind that maybe he would end up being Eddie, even though I thought my friend was still in at this point.
So I called Michael and asked him to read for Eddie. I also had another actor or two to read for Eddie as well. I know I sound like a broken record regarding actors I saw but didn't cast, but I saw this one actor who was just fantastic and he was so close, but when I had Michael read, well, he just *was* Eddie. And what I loved about Michael is that as we read the sides a few times, he always evolved and found something new with each read. I love seeing actors uncover things as they go along rather than force something immediately.
Jennifer was the last main part I cast. It was important that Jennifer play really well off of Eddie. It wasn't that I didn't want to consider any of the women who tried out for Maureen, but that my gut told me to call someone else -- Megan Molloy. Megan, who played Christine in Jimmy's House of Hugs, just seemed like the perfect gal to play opposite of Michael. She has the quick wit I wanted for Jennifer. Megan is the kind of actress I could see in a 40s screwball comedy, because she has a classic elegance AND goofiness.
I then needed a babe or two to be in the Fear Factor type half-time show that the guys watched on TV. I ended up with one babe, not two, and she was Kristina Hughes, a former Miss Connecticut who had a resume that showed she didn't need this part, but she was happy to do it anyway. (I love this gal -- she's very dedicated to her work and sees the value of doing even a smaller part.) She was also one of Eddie's exes on the phone. ("I know, Eddie, you were just afraid I was too good for you.") So she got to be both seen and heard in the film but not at the same time. I really appreciate her contribution to the film. I really needed something that looked something like half-time show Fear Factor did with models a few years back. I didn't have the production for it, but having Kristina, who looked like she could have been on that show, at least got the point across on what the show was supposed to be.
I also cast other actors I had worked with before, Wenzel Jones (Sally's Dream House), as the waiter and Matias Coo (Like His Father) as the wine steward. Both of their parts got cut down a bit. There was originally a short scene after the dinner montage when Wenzel brought in the doggie bags. But as I was editing I realized it was unnecessary, even though I loved watching Wenzel in it.
Also, Matias first had a little bit more of flirtation going on with Megan's character. The whole scene with him originally had only a couple of lines, and was mostly visual, with Eddie's apologies to Jennifer taking place after the wine steward leaves. But this flirtation, while entertaining in itself, just dragged the scene and did nothing to propel the story forward. It's interesting how you can have fun little scenes that still need to be cut out because they detract from the overall purpose of the film. But taking the flirtation bit out was a real challenge to do because I was facing serious continuity problems. But I found a way to cut the film having Eddie start apologizing while the wine steward is pouring the wine. I could use only close ups of the conversation because the long shots would not have Matias in them, so it took some precision in the editing and some sound tricks to make it work. Of course it's not perfect, but I think it was the best solution available.
My crew was Thomas H. Davis as DP, Jeremy as fellow producer, sound, etc., Danielle Davis as production designer, and Matt Henderson and Catherine C. Pirotta gaffing and gripping. Thomas and Danielle's daughter, Carlin, helped out, too. Huge props go to Matt who, at last minute notice, saved us when we were behind setting up on the Friday night before the shoot. Having a crew that are not only students but who also have full time jobs makes scheduling very tight!
I should note that this film was shot entirely on our apartment's premises. Mike and Maureen's home was our home. The restaurant was in the lobby downstairs. Thanks to Danielle, I think it was pretty convincing! I had been looking for a restaurant to film the scene, but we then figured that making a little restaurant was easier and cheaper than using a real one.
The scene outside was filmed right outside our good friend, Robert Shaw's bungalow. Where we lived were 10 bungalows with an apartment building in the back. The complex has been used in Six Feet Under. Actually they needed to come back enough that they ended up building a set that looked just like it.
Jeremy did all of the sound for this film, production and post. I have said this before but I am so lucky to have a great sound man as my boyfriend. It was so noisy when we filmed outside Robert's. We had to film around helicopters, people rummaging through the trash cans on the street, a party, and more cars than usual driving by. But if you pay attention to the sound in that scene, or ANY scene, you'd think I hired a professional.
Jeremy also composed and performed all the music in the film, including the jazz piece played in the background at the restaurant. I edited the film with placeholder music, mostly with songs from ELO's album, Zoom. I also used a bit of one Matthew Sweet song. Poor Jeremy -- I was growing attached to these songs. Jeremy had to come up with songs that were different, of course, but that had the same kind of feeling. Another challenge was that I edited the restaurant montage scene to match the flow of music from one ELO song. There was a nice camera move that Thomas did that I had edited to match the music so precisely and Jeremy had to find a way to compose music to my edit. He found the way and did it. All the music he did using Garage Band, which is a great way to score a movie on a low budget!
Oh, and Jeremy also did the voice for the announcer on TV. That we added in last. I first cut it to the DVD of the actual Super Bowls, but I didn't want to leave any copyrighted material in there at all.
This is the best production film we've done. It was nice to work with Thomas and Jeremy on all these films and evolve together. Both Thomas and Jeremy are very talented but there were things we just didn't know when doing our earlier films. This one shows that we learned!
At the same time, when it come to my work, I'm probably most critical of Eddie's. I'm pleased with it on many levels but I see where I could have made it better, in script, direction and editing. Well, I think I did the best editing with what I had. I just think if I did a couple of things differently, I would have liked what I could edit together in the final product. I'm a little harsh on myself with this film. I forgive myself more with my earlier films. Of course, I need to take this all as a learning experience and move on. And I can' t complain -- Eddie's has been in/accepted to 16 festivals, including the Plymouth Independent Film Festival and Ohio Independent Film Festival and has won a few awards.
As always, I was lucky to have a talented and dedicated cast and crew. Eddie's Winning Date was a great experience and, personally very fulfilling.
(Back to Eddie's Winning Date website)