Green Apple Entertainment has selected July 9 as the DVD debut for director Thomas Rennier’s off-kilter romantic comedy, Lionhead.
This is a debut feature film effort from a first-time director? Really? It doesn’t look it!
Before we get into the nitty gritty of Lionhead, it should be noted that this isn’t the first indie film making its way to the home entertainment market place in recent memory that is showcasing production elements that belie the limits of its budget.
You would think that some of the studio brass, who cavalierly toss tens of thousands of dollars at just meaningless things, would begin to take notice of what is happening in the indie film world. Some really nice stuff is being produced on micro and limited budgets these days and you would think that they’d be keeping a finger on that production pulse … it would just seem to make good business sense.
They probably — the ubiquitous they — are probably monitoring such things, but some of these all-too-often big budget write-downs make you wonder.
True indie filmmaking is going to break, we predict, into two groups. Slick, well-produced, well-planned little films like Lionhead (great cinematography/videography; sound, lighting and editing) and crap shot on video that is tinny in sound, VHS-looking in presentation and dreadful to watch. Well, maybe not to that extreme, but you get the idea … watch enough indie films and you can quickly separate one from the other (we have the 15 minute rule around here for screeners).
The difference between these two groups is that the former will find acceptance on DVD, even Blu-ray (and limited digital theatrical exhibition), and the latter will become extinct. Learn the craft, plan and execute … that’s the future. Adapt technically or get the flip out of here.
The analogy would be something along the lines of Gutenberg’s printing press. It gave publishers and writers access to mass markets and as the process was refined it allowed even the ramble in the street the technology to deliver serious works. It has been the same for the personal computer. Filmmaking is simply following the same curve … quality output becomes accessible for those who study, learn, plan (plan, plan and plan) and then hook the whole kit and caboodle together with a well-told; well-acted story.
Enough of the soapbox. As to Rennier’s Lionhead, clearly he (and his crew) executed a tight shooting schedule (Michael Madsen in the cast list is the first tip off … probably only had access to the talent for three or four days) and ended up with a sweet little comedy in the process.
Frank (Trevor Lissauer — Eden’s Curve, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, etc.) wants to pop the question to Darlene (Jill Crewshaw) and is more that aware that her father, Walter (a nice turn by Madsen), doesn’t think much of him. Ah-ha, a stunning engagement ring would not only sweep his girlfriend off her feet, but it could also warm dear old dad to the idea of just how serious he is … it is an excellent plan!
Frank, who can’t for the life of him shut up for more than ten seconds (a real motor mouth, who just spews out whatever is dancing around his frontal lobes at the moment), gets even faster-talked by a hustler with a cool deal named Ted (Brien Perry), only he doesn’t suspect that Ted is a hustler. In any case, he blows ten big ones on a phony diamond ring that Darlene’s father spots for what it is and is quickly sent packing.
Nebbish dolt gets hustled, embarrasses himself and loses the love of his life … but that’s not a feature film, it’s just a sad, sad short. It is just the set up.
Frank plans to win her back, but his chosen path to do so becomes a long and twisted (laugh-filled) journey. He will get his money back (good luck with that) and somehow that will solve everything, but his schemes seem to work against him — the cops are of no help and even her father encourages his daughter to start dating (candidates that are even worse than what her father imagines Frank to be) as the broken-hearted Romeo stands by and watches helplessly.
The story is like a snowball, racing downhill, becoming more and more complicated — and funnier — as it races towards its not so obvious conclusion.
Green Apple Entertainment has two-and-a-half months to work the street for this one … it is a sweet little comedy that does not disappoint. As for filmmaker Thomas Rennier, if this is his first film, we can’t wait to see his next … and the one after that.
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