LADY MAGDALENE'S TEST SCREENS
AT THE NRA
by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.
[April 15, 2007]
When writer/director J. Neil Schulman wondered how audiences might perceive
his new anti-terrorist, action-comedy, Lady
Magdalene's, he test screened it at the NRA on April 12, in the banquet room of the Culver City Denny's.
"I'm a past president of this
chapter," said Schulman. "So I was invited to screen Lady
Magdalene's. It's our first chance to show the film to
non-industry people in a no pressure environment, so I grabbed the opportunity."
Magdalene's -- starring Star
Trek's Nichelle NichoIs -- is about a man who's fired from the
Air Marshall service for profiling an Arab as a terrorist (which Senators
regard as "politically incorrect"), who returns to the IRS and is assigned
to a Nevada brothel in tax receivership -- only to discover that the brothel
is a focal point for Al Qaeda.
Magdalene's has action, comedy, and song-and-dance interludes,
some of them performed by Nichols. Yet distributors like to pigeonhole
films, so Schulman distributed questionnaires to his appreciative audience,
and asked them how they perceived the film's genre. "I'll be looking
at their comments for an idea of how to market the film," said Schulman. "Who likes it, who doesn't. I'll shape the marketing accordingly."
indie filmmakers, Schulman engages in both grassroots marketing -- and
guerrilla filmmaking. "Hoover Dam refused us permission to shoot
there," said Schulman, "which is why we went there stealthily. One
of the security guards at the dam saw our cameramen with the camera on
his shoulder. The guard asked if we were shooting professionally. I said, 'No, just home movies. Which was absolutely true. It
was my camera. We did it before principal photography, so I had no
contract with the corporation producing the movie to give them any footage. At that point, it was a home movie."
inside joke, Schulman includes a scene in his film where his character
(he plays the role of a terrorist) waves at the camera while standing at
the dam. "That was basically me acknowledging, you guys didn't get
his heroic portrayal of law enforcement, Schulman was poorly treated by
the government. "We come along with a movie in which the feds are
the good guys, and the Department of Homeland Security would not give us
any cooperation. We went to the FBI building [in Nevada] to get some
exteriors on a Sunday, when the place is closed. They sent out a
security guard to try to arrest us. We have it on film. That
will probably be part of the DVD extras."
Schulman's experience with the FBI mirrors that of actress Rosario Dawson,
who actually was arrested by NYPD along with other actors while filming
the anti-government This
Revolution during the August 2004 anti-GOP
protest. Dawson was arrested for wearing a mask, in violation
of New York's anti-mask law. Her arrest by the NYPD is likewise part
Revolution's DVD extras.
Schulman denies making a political statement with Lady
Magdalene's. "There is very
little politically correct about Lady
Magdalene's," he acknowledges, yet at the same time, "I was trying
to skate as near the edge as possible, without making the film unsaleable. Anyone finding a political message in this film is just out to make trouble."
now Schulman is busy submitting Lady
Magdalene's to festivals. "I'm going to be resubmitting the new
[117 minute] cut. A lot of festivals are looking at an older [140
minute] cut. The festivals that still have time to look at the new
cut, I will send that to them. I'm going to be making a bunch of
new submissions for the second half of 2007 with the new cut."
Copyright 2007 by HollywoodInvestigator.com.