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Local movie production looking for volunteer actors, staff

If you’ve been sitting on the perfect throwaway one-liner, chances are that you may have missed your moment.

Don’t worry, though. There are still plenty of chances to get involved with “People’s Production” — the (not quite) title of the 15-minute(ish) short film adapted from a couple of loose ideas into an unwritten screenplay. The actors have yet to be cast.

And it starts production sometime next week.

“I’m interested to see what interesting things will happen and what surprising things will happen,” said Benjamin Andrew, an instructor at the Penn State School of Visual Arts.

At this point, the element of surprise seems like the only given for a film that is intended to function as sort of a mad scientist’s experiment in storytelling.

I’m interested to see what interesting things will happen and what surprising things will happen.

Benjamin Andrew

In the age of GoFundMe and Kickstarter, fledgling moviemakers are usually all too happy to inflate their budgets with earnest investment pitches to anyone with an internet connection.

Instead of crowd-sourcing the financing, Andrew is throwing the doors to the entire creative process wide open.

One-liners, characters, even the basic storyline have all been reaped wholesale from the fertile imagination of John Q. Public.

“The idea here is to try and involve as many people as possible,” Andrew said.

On Thursday evening at the Borland Project Space, he settled for a comfortable nine.

Students, faculty members and a few representatives from Happy Valley Improv sat around a conference table trying to weave a handful of stray story threads into a tapestry.

Many of the elements in play had already been written on one of many large sheets up paper taped up on the wall, which looked as if somebody had taken the contents of a suggestion box and organized it into ultra-specific categories, such as “interesting locations,” “thematic dualities” and “inciting incidents.”

This is getting real.

Andrea McCloskey

By the end of the night, Andrew was hoping to have enough of an outline cemented that he could bang out a quarter of an hour’s worth of script over the course of a weekend.

“We’ve got some interesting suggestions up there,” Andrew told the group.

The priority was identifying a plot contrivance that could support the film’s sole logistical mandate: The same character would have to be played by multiple actors.

It was a reality born of time and the volunteer nature of the project. Continuity could be preserved using any number of fictional conceits, but the room decided to focus on a protagonist who was undergoing some kind of an identity crisis.

“This is getting real,” Happy Valley Improv’s Andrea McCloskey said.

The film’s storyline may be locked, but Andrew is still looking for volunteers to serve as actors and production staff. Those interested can reach out via the project’s website at peoplesproduction.co.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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