Jul 18, 2013
02:10 PM
Arts & Entertainment

Screening Set for Film by Litchfield County Screenwriter

Screening Set for Film by Litchfield County Screenwriter

Laurie Gaboardi/The Litchfield County Times.

Michael Maren in a photo from The Litchfield County Times' Passport magazine.

Michael Maren’s 2011 New Year’s resolution was seemingly simple for a professional screenwriter: make a movie.

For a decade, the resident of Bethlehem in Litchfield County had been writing and selling movie scripts, but Hollywood politics is tricky and often studios buy movies without any intention of seeing the project through from paper to screen.

That old saying about doing things yourself in order to have them done right, or even at all, started to ring truer and more audibly with Maren, whose wife is the noted writer Dani Shapiro.

The result is “A Short History of Decay,” a film conceived and made by Maren that will have its first public screening on the last weekend in July at The Moviehouse in Millerton, N.Y.

“It’s our baby,” said Maren, who works out of an office in Washington Depot. “There has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears put into this.”

The screenplay he wrote was approximately 120 pages, and the movie that resulted is a coming-of-age tale about an aimless young writer from Brooklyn who is dumped by his girlfriend and then finds himself in Florida with his aging parents. Complicating matters is the fact his mother has Alzheimer’s disease.  

While the movie is a now a wrap, no one said a simple New Year’s resolution would turn out to be simple.

Sometime after the writer and director started to shoot, in Florida in the spring of 2012, a major investor quickly pulled out. Production halted and didn’t pick up again until the following autumn in North Carolina.

Naturally, the filmmaker also had to seek out a new cast and crew. But Maren was determined.

Originally he had lined up Australian actress Jacki Weaver, who was nominated for Oscars for “Animal Kingdom” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” to play the ailing matriarch. When things changed with the production, he switched to Linda Lavin, who in 1987 won a Tony for her part in “Broadway Bound” and was nominated five other times. Maren is pleased with the outcome.

In the starring role is Bryan Greenberg, best known as the lead in the HBO original series “How to Make It in America.”

“It’s been a saga to get it made; it is really hard to get an indie film made,” said Maren, who noted that a few tweaks are still pending. “The odds were stacked against me and people said you can’t get an indie film made, so I made sure to tell so many people to ensure that I did it.”

The help of newfound friend and entertainment lawyer Alfred Sapse was invaluable. The two met at an outing last year and immediately bonded. Sapse has produced more than a dozen movies, and said that when he read Maren’s script, he knew he had to be part of the project.

“This was my best experience as a producer,” said the attorney. “It’s one of the most interesting I’ve produced. The script is really well written, sharp dialogue, and I think the issue is really timely.”

Sapse and Maren said that after the Millerton screening, the movie will probably wind up in numerous film festivals. But it’s important to be discriminating, according to Maren, who said, “We’re not anxious to go out and sign with the first person who wants to distribute our film.”

The movie is small, even tiny by Hollywood standards, as it was made for less than $1 million.

The honest portrayal and the talent behind it is what gives it a shot at having a real impact. “I talked to a guy who works with Alzheimer’s patients,” Maren said, “and he told me it is one of the best portrayals he has ever seen.”

“A Short History of Decay” will be screened at 6:30 and 8:45 p.m. on Saturday, July 27, at The Moviehouse in Millerton, N.Y., just over the border on Route 44 from Lakeville, Conn. To connect, visit www.themoviehouse.net. For more on Maren and the film, see his website.

 

Screening Set for Film by Litchfield County Screenwriter

Reader Comments

comments powered by Disqus
 
Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Feed Feed