By MIKE CHAIKEN
106.9 WCCC is going Hollywood this Sunday with its Rock’n and Reel’n Short Film Fest.
And a local filmmaker, Neal Thomassen, a Southington High School alum, is up there on the marquee.
The event is planned for Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Hard Rock Café at Foxwoods in Mashantucket. The festival features Thomassen’s “Bloody Mary Comedy,” as well as Cliff Cronan’s “The Lucy Penny,” Edward Masotta’s “Two for Two,” Sean Carmichael’s “The Last Seven Years,” James Deveney’s “At First Sight,” Peter Marvin’s “Can,” Danny LaGare’s “Breathe,” “If You Believe” by Nina Martinez and Edward Figuroa, and John Christopher Robble’s “Double Down.”
Thomassen, besides being a filmmaker, is executive director of the Film Industry Mixer, which showcases comedy via actor monologues, stand up comedy, VIP interviews, and panels. He also has had a hand in promotion for film-related events such as the Connecticut Film Fest, the Hartford Flick Fest, the New Haven Underground Film Fest, the Idiot Village Film fest in New Haven, and the Whaling Center Film Fest. The Flick Fest also voted a film Thomassen executive produced, “London Betty,” as Best Connecticut Flick in 2009. (The film was directed by Plainville’s Thomas Edward Seymour and Southington’s Jonathan Gorman.)
Given Thomassen’s extensive film background in Connecticut, he gave WCCC’s event the thumb’s up.
“WCCC gives filmmakers the opportunity to reach a larger audience in a cool venue like the Hard Rock Cafe at Foxwoods and helps build the film community so more people can get involved with the filmmakers next project.”
“The idea of the WCCC Rock’n and Reel’n event shows that the radio stations care about local talent and the creative community,” said Thomassen.
“The goal of WCCC events like this film fest, and WCCC’s (recent) Rock The Runway are to show our audience that we are not just a loud, head-banging, mindless rock station,” explained Carissa M. Lozinski, the station’s digital marketing director. “We have a softer side, and we are huge supporters of local talent and local artists. They are live and local just like us, and we are here to support them. “ (Lozinski and Joanna Cozza, the sales and marketing director of Hard Rock Cafe Foxwoods, are the brains behind the festival.)
For the WCCC event on Sunday, Thomassen said, “I will be showing a comedy spoof on the feature film trailer for ‘Paranormal Activity 3’ ‘Blood Mary’ trailer, in which two sisters are in the bathroom and they say ‘Blood Mary’ three times with the lights out and the older sister shines the flashlight in her face and screams. As the girls leave the bathroom, there is a dark figure standing in the background.”
Thomassen said for his entry, “I duplicated the scene up until the girls leave the bathroom and the dark figure is the one who suffers the horrors of a dark bathroom.”
The genesis of the entry into the WCCC festival is typical for Thomassen’s body of work, he explained. “I get my ideas from seeing the same commercial over and over and funny ideas pop in my head. They usually start off with ‘You know what would be funny? if…’”
This particular entry was chosen for the WCCC event, Thomassen said because he wanted something “more family friendly and mainstream.”
“Some of my other work is more edgy and not appropriate for children,” he added.
“I enjoy comedy and being creative,” said Thomassen of the draw of filmmaking for him. “I enjoy the process. I sometimes write in groups, which is very fun because it is just people sitting around making each other laugh.
As for what kind of reaction he wants from the audience at the film fest, Thomassen said, “I would like some laughter, a few laugh out louds, 20 smiles, 10 or more giggles, maybe one person pee themselves. I would be happy if it puts a smile on someone’s face.”
Thomassen is part of a growing cadre of filmmakers, accompanied by a growing number of film fests in Connecticut.
“I don’t think anything is in the water that makes people want to take up this art form (in Connecticut),” said Thomassen, then quipping, “although I did see a suspicious kid selling ice tea this past summer.”
However, Thomassen said, “I think the barriers to enter the film industry are no longer in existence. It is so inexpensive to shoot and edit your own video. My wife bought our daughter a video camera for $25. That is pretty cheap for a camera. Not a very good camera but she is just starting out.”
As for what’s next on Thomassen’s agenda, he said, “I am currently working on providing credits on the feature film called ‘Diamond Ruff,’ which is now in post production. I will be working on my friends online horror series in the spring. I continue to build a local sketch comedy group, which meets once a month to write and shoot very short skits (fake commercials and movie trailers). I currently am shooting a spoof on Floggers coffee and the Progresso soup can.”
Basically, said Thomassen, “I am just going to keep plugging away until I find that magical formula that makes the entire audience roar with laughter.”
The 106.9 Rock’n and Reel’n Short Film Festival is Sunday 2 to 5 p.m. at the Hard Rock Café at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket. It’s hosted by WCCC’s Mike Karolyi. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. The event is rated PG-13. For more information, go to WCCC.com.
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver. com.
By MIKE CHAIKEN