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Local News / Entertainment

Tuesday, 30 March, 2010 1:43 AM

Is It Just Me? wins Best Narrative Feature at the Michigan Film Awards

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Producer Michael Amato, Actor Nicholas Downs and Director J.C. Calciano of the award-winning film "Is It Just Me?"

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

DETROIT -- The Detroit Independent Film Festival took place last week at the Burton Theatre and at Wayne State University's DeRoy Auditorium. Is It Just Me? won the best narrative feature award during the inaugural Michigan Film Awards last Saturday.

Other winners include Marianne Hettinger, who won the best director award for her feature film Mango Tango. The best narrative short award went to The 8th Samurai, which was directed by Justin Ambrosino. Eddies won the best documentary award. It was directed by Michael Peterson. The best animation award went to A Long Distance Call, which was directed by Joe Chang.

"We just got word from the Burton Theatre that they just projected that it was a successful festival and we're on for next year," said Robert Butler, director of the Detroit Independent Film Festival. "We're going to continue doing this. We're going to continue the independent film spirit."

Is It Just Me? is a gay romantic comedy that stars Nicholas Downs, David Loren, Adam Huss, Michelle Lambert, Bob Rumnock and Bruce Gray. Downs plays the character of Blaine, who is a writer for the imaginary newspaper USA ToGay (no spelling mistake). He is looking for Mr. Right. As time goes by, Blaine meets a guy named Xander on the internet. They chat for a few days, then the conversation moves to the phone and finally, they set a date to meet in-person.

"I met J.C., the director/writer, and Michael Amato, the producer, the first time on my casting," said lead actor Nicholas Downs. "I got called in through a casting agent, my manager. The second set was a call back with a chemistry read. From there, it happened really fast. I think within like two weeks we were shooting. It was a 12-day shoot, I worked 10 days on it. For a lead role, it was a very quick and aggressive shooting schedule. I've played other gay roles before on television and another film I did, but it was a very slapstick teen comedy. This is the first romantic comedy gay lead that I've ever done."

Blaine is ashamed that he doesn't have a perfect ripped body. So he asks his roommate, Cameron (played by Adam Huss) to show up at the coffee shop and say that he is the person that Xander was talking to. Both Blaine and Cameron show up at the coffee shop. The film becomes a story of mistaken identity. Blaine doesn't want to admit that he is really the person that Xander has a lot in common with. You'll have to see the movie to find out what happens next.

"It was basically shot in locations we knew we already had," said director and writer J.C. Calciano. "We didn't have to location scout too much. I already had the script. The hardest part was to scramble for the right actors, which we were fortunate to find in four weeks. Within two months, basically the film was in the can. I've never directed a film before. It's the longest and the shortest. It seemed to be the only amount of money that I could afford. I would have like to shot more days, but we were on a tight budget. I would love to do my film in Michigan. My films are really small. I don't know if I even qualify for the tax incentive. Just looking around, there's really cool buildings, really cool landscaping here."

One of the most interesting facts about this movie is that it was shot in just 12 days. Most Hollywood films take a month or several months of shooting to complete. Is It Just Me? was able to preserve high production values in a short amount of time with a very low budget.

"I had read a script a couple of years ago and wasn't working last year when J.C. had the script," said producer Michael Amato. "He said, 'let's do it.' He wasn't working, I wasn't working. He updated the script, modernized it. It really started out as a small film. We were going to do it like non-union, non-SAG and really small. We started shooting this thing. What we got, I was looking at the dailies and said wow stuff's looking good. Usually, the films I've done have been 21-24 days. I think I had the most fun on the set. It's going to all of your friends and pulling favors. Hey, can you do this for me, do this for me? They did. They were great. The key is to put all the money on the screen and make it look the greatest production value as possible."

Is It Just Me? is currently being shown at film festivals nationwide. Upcoming screenings include the California Independent Film Festival on April 24 and 25, the Newport Beach Film Festival, the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, the Pink Apple Film Festival, the Boston LBGT Film Festival and the Philadelphia Qfest. It should be released on DVD in about three months and may go on a limited release to theaters.

"I just want to thank the film festival for inviting us to show the film," Calciano said during his acceptance speech for best narrative feature. "Thank everyone from Detroit for making us feel so welcome here and enjoying the film."

For more information on the Detroit Independent Film Festival, visit www.detroitindiefest.com.

For more information on the film Is It Just Me?, visit www.isitjustmethemovie.com.

Editor's Note: Nicholas Downs and JC Calciano of IS IT JUST ME? have teamed up for the web series Steam Room Stories. And give them the link to the website, www.steamroomstories.com.

 

Additional winners of the 1st Annual Michigan Film Awards

**Winner Best Michigan Feature**
Tracy
Produced by Brian Fee and Dan Scanlon

**Winner Best Director - Michigan Feature**
Dan Scanlon, Tracy

**Winner Best Michigan Short**
Pigment
Produced by Kyle Dufendach

**Winner Best Director - Michigan Short**
Bryan D. Hopkins, Qing Lou Nu

**Winner Best Actor -Feature**
Brian Fee, Tracy

**Winner Best Actor -Short**
Robert William Ford, The Commandant

**Winner Best Actress-Feature**
Lauren Mae Shafer, The Stevie Wonder Show

**Winner Best Actress - Short**
Grace Anne Rowan, Playback

**Winner Best Supporting Actor**
John Duffy Leo, Raised Alone

**Winner Best Supporting Actress**
Vikki Gasko, Raised Alone

**Winner Best Screenplay - Feature**
Michael McCallum, Fairview St.

**Winner Best Screenplay -Short **
Pigment, Written by Kyle Dufendach

**Best Documentary**
A City To Yourself, Directed by Nicole MacDonald


**Winner Best Cinematography**
Mark C. Davis Jr., Qing Lou Nu

**Winner Best Original Score**
Sonia Lee, Raised Alone

**Winner Best Editing**
Jamie Surgener, Avabot

**Winner Best Academic Short**
1 New Message, Directed by Julie Dugger

 

Movie poster: isitjustmethemovie.com

Is It Just Me? movie poster

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Michigan Film Awards trophies

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

About 200 people showed up for the Michigan Film Awards ceremony.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

More award trophies

 

 

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