Nicholls State Professor Writes, Co-Produces Film

THIBODAUX, LA (AP) — An adjunct Nicholls State University professor wrote and co-produced a short film that's been shown at the DC Independent Film Festival in Washington.

         The film, "Call Me Cappy," includes footage filmed in Houma, and it will be shown at Nicholl's Le Bijou Theater in the Bollinger Memorial Student Union at noon March 24 and later in March at the Fort Myers Film Festival in Florida.

         Professor Melissa Remark based the 17-minute film on a short story she wrote for a creative writing class at the University of New Orleans.

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         Remark cited her background in yoga as a personal inspiration for the story, particularly a Buddhist book of sayings called "The Dhammapada."

         "It can be translated in so many ways, but one of the first lines (of the book) goes, 'You are what you think, having become what you thought,'" she said. "…I've always believed you are what your thoughts are."

         This applies to Cappy, her main character in the "light-hearted" film, who is working a dead-end job in an unnamed Midwestern town, spending his nights watching game shows with a disinterested wife.

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         Cappy sees a smiling woman in a red bikini beckoning from a colorful postcard, promising a "tropical Caribbean cruise" for the lucky winner, and is thrilled by the prospect of an exotic trip. But little does he know it is a classic junk mail scam.

         The character is played by Mississippi native Ritchie Montgomery, who appeared in "True Detective," ''American Horror Story," ''Treme," ''The Help" and "Django Unchained," among other shows.

         As Remark's story continues, Cappy begins to invest himself more and more into the trip, ultimately discovering a better side of life despite learning about the scam.

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         "He believes he's going to win this trip, so he starts reading up on the world and buying Hawaiian shirts," Remark said.

         The film's director, Maja Holzinger, a native of Poland who met Remark while attending a UNO graduate film class with her, said Remark's story had "great visual potential."

         "I connected with the idea that when someone has a dream and a desire to do something, it doesn't matter if everyone thinks it's silly," Holzinger said. "It makes someone start doing things."

         The pair started raising money online to help finance production costs, but the effort initially fell short, they said.

         A budding filmmaker, Holzinger entered the Pitch Perfect session at the New Orleans Film Festival last year, where she delivered a winning five-minute pitch to industry executives and insiders. She received a $1,000 grant.

         Holzinger also had a $10,000 Jeri Nims grant she won for her graduate film thesis, plus the online donations.

         Remark said the film's budget came to about $12,000, most of which went towards Montgomery's fee and scouting locations in Houma, New Orleans, and Orange Beach, Alabama.

         The pair is particularly grateful for the warm welcome they received in Houma.

         They shot a key crowd scene at Bowl South, where the owner found 40 extras on short notice to pull off the shot, Holzinger said.

         "This bowling alley was (our) last hope, but Marie Lirette told us, 'We're gonna be your place; don't look anymore.'"

         In terms of directing, Holzinger said she wanted the film to stay as character-driven as possible.

         "You just try to stay true to (Cappy's) character," she said. "You try to express this person's life adventure as truly as the character."

         – by AP/ Reporter Maki Somosot with The Daily Comet

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