Bob's Making A Movie, And He Needs Help
By: Elsa H. Partan
A Mashpee man is seeking actors and a film crew for a movie he plans to make on Cape Cod.
The comedy is one of a number of diverse projects from the mind of Robert B. Wilds, a jovial, self-taught naturalist who worked for more than 25 years as a whale watch guide in Barnstable and Bar Harbor, Maine, before publishing a novel and writing several screenplays. On the side, he gives kayak tours in Yarmouth, drives a limousine, and is co-founder of a natural baby wipe company.
“Everything I’ve done, I’ve either been really successful or really unsuccessful at it,” Mr. Wilds said, laughing as he leaned over his dining room table. “But I’m tenacious.”
The man Mr. Wilds has chosen as director for the movie, Steven J. Martin of Yarmouth, agreed. “And you could call him a pain...plenty of other people do,” he said. “You can quote me on that.”
In 2008, Mr. Wilds pitched his comedy, “Whale Watch,” to a movie studio in Los Angeles. They liked it and encouraged him to hold on while they decided whether to accept it. By 2009, he was tired of waiting and decided to make the film himself.
“In Hollywood, you can die of enthusiasm,” he said. “It’s one of the most accurate truisms. They just loved it. I had already envisioned the premiere and the awards before I found out they decided to do another film.”
It was a turning point. “I was 60 and didn’t want to be 70 and be thinking, ‘I wish someone could call me back.’ ”
Two weeks ago, he launched the website Bob’s Making a Movie! to invite aspiring actors, directors, scriptwriters, crew assistants, and digital animators to join him and get paid for their work. Applicants can submit their audition tapes on YouTube or audition live at a number of events next year.
The people who audition for the 34 acting roles plus crew positions for “Whale Watch” will be the same people who will bankroll the movie, Mr. Wilds explained. To get a chance to try out, a person must purchase a package of T-shirts, hats and bumper stickers that range from $35 to $250. The applicants who are not selected are eligible to appear in a crowd of 400 extras.
“We figured out we have to sell 15,000 actor-actress packages,” to meet the razor-thin movie budget of $328,000, Mr. Wilds said. He has not ruled out investor money, either, he said.
“It’s amazing how people come out of the woodwork, he said. “We might get stampeded by people who want to get into the movie.”
The hero of “Whale Watch” is Whale Watch is Herman Melville Jr., a whale watch captain with a deep love for marine mammals. He operates the last privately owned whale watch boat because the rest have been acquired by the Mafia and turned into whale hunting ships. The story turns on his attempts to keep his business alive as the Mafia tries to take it over.
The movie’s examples of bad tourist behavior come from Mr. Wilds’s many years as a whale watch guide. The list of characters includes Girl Scouts, Hassidic Jews, midgets, a busty blond with a small dog, a blind man, a real bear and a real orangutan, and a Mafia don named Don Sal Monella, according to the website.
Auditions should wrap up this spring and filming on Cape Cod should start in May, Mr. Wilds said. The only experienced people working on the film will be the technical crew, Mr. Martin said, although they will gladly hire inexperienced assistants.
Mr. Wilds picked Mr. Martin as the director for the movie after reading his work at the Cape Cod Writers Association’s Screen Writers Group. Mr. Martin, who recently returned to Yarmouth after teaching literature and language in Japan for a decade, has written several screenplays as a hobby. Despite his habit of watching up to three movies a week at the theater, he had never tried to get his work made into films.
“Bob was surprised to find out that I go to these [writing] things for fun,” Mr. Martin said.
Mr. Martin said he loves the “David and Goliath” aspect of what Mr. Wilds is doing. The big movie houses only make half the number of films they did a decade ago, leaving many creative people with little chance of getting their ideas on screen, he said.
“The hell with them,” he said. “This is more fun anyway.”
Once “Whale Watch” is produced, the pair has four other film concepts ready to go into production, using scripts written by Mr. Wilds.
The drama “95 North” deals with the social conflicts that arise when a Vietnamese family moves to Bar Harbor. “Muddy Water” is a mystery and drama that uses the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as its starting point, while “Forty-Three” is set in a run-down café and involves a serial killer. “Millennia” is an animated film set in an undersea fantasy world that is based on Mr. Wilds’s self-published book.
There are other ideas, too, including ones that did not make it onto the casting call poster yet. Mr. Martin is working on a comedy inspired by the Chilean mine rescue.
“We could produce seven films in five years,” Mr. Wilds said.
One goal of making the movie is to give other amateurs a chance to break into movie making, Mr. Wilds said.
Mr. Martin agreed. “The purpose really transcends the film itself,” he said. “It’s the idea that there shouldn’t be a stronghold on art and entertainment.”
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