Posse Whipped

Slapsticky westerns filmmaker unexpectedly finds talent back home in OC

Photo by Lance BrownThat giant sucking sound you're continually hearing is the ongoing exodus of Orange County's most talented and hungry actors, writers and directors heading up the 5 freeway to whore themselves on the altar of film and TV. It's not that our best and brightest hate life behind the curtain, just that they actually entertain the thought of making a real living.

So it's just a little ironic that Gavin Carlton, one of the most hyper-talented people ever to flee OC theater in hopes of striking gold in that most carnivorous of Glitter Gulches, turned to people he worked with here to help create his most ambitious project to date: his short film, Looking for Some Posse, which gets officially unveiled this weekend as part of the Temecula Valley Film and Music Festival.

The absurdly tinged tale of slapsticky cowboys and other yokels halfheartedly trying to stir up a posse in order to track down the varmint who's been shooting off everybody's hats is based on a short play by fellow OC refugee Mike Brainard. It stars a veritable all-star team of Orange County storefront theater actors: Brainard, Brad Whitfield, Nick Boicourt, Patrick Gwaltney, Steven Lamprinos, Darri Kristin, Spider Madison, K.C Mercer and Denny Moynahan.

A handful of talented Los Angeles actors round out the cast, and most of the crew and behind-the-scenes people also have ties to that town, but orange-flavored juice is all over this particular reel.

And that's the last thing Carlton had in mind. Although he'd worked with all of the aforementioned many times at Stages—where Carlton directed and starred in a slew of plays, including Talk Radio and Julius Caesar—and used them in his college films at Chapman University as well as a commercial reel, he "didn't really want to use the same people again," said Carlton, an Orange County native and current Los Feliz resident. "My commercial reel didn't have that many bites, and while the actors all did a fabulous job, I thought I might be better served if I began networking and working with more Los Angeles actors."

But at Brainard's behest, Carlton agreed to let the OC talent audition.

"I was absolutely blown away by what they showed up with," said Carlton. "I didn't think more than a couple would be right for this project, but everyone just knocked me out. I was like, Jesus Christ, here's my cast right here."

So many OC locals impressed that Carlton and Brainard rethought the script, adding characters, music and an entire prologue in order to use everybody.

The result is a fast-paced, funny eight-minute western that Samuel Beckett and Mel Brooks might have tossed off over a round of drinks one night. It cost $16,000 but should have cost $40,000 (favors were called in all over Southern California), and it looks like it must have cost more—they struck gold when the city of Temecula let them film in an unspoiled mountain canyon that looks as if it's in the middle of Utah.

So when Possesweeps to glory in the festivals it's already been accepted into—Temecula, London's Raindance, the online Moviefone Short Film Festival—and dominates ones that will surely be begging for it—like Cannes and Sundance—taking Carlton along with it, maybe he'll make some room at his table for a few of his OC thespian buddies.

LOOKING FOR SOME POSSE (AND A BUTTLOAD OF SHORTS CULLED FROM CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY'S FILM SCHOOL) SCREENS AT THE TEMECULA VALLEY INTERNATIONAL FILM & MUSIC FESTIVAL AT THE MOVIE EXPERIENCE 10, TOWER PLAZA, 25735 YNEZ RD., TEMECULA, (951) 699-5514; WWW.TVIFF.COM. THURS.-FRI., SEPT. 15-16, 6 P.M.; SAT., 1 P.M. $7.

 
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