For the past three weeks, Norwalk business executive-turned-screenwriter Stephen Grimaldi has been watching, amazed, as his first movie, "The Word," has been filmed on locations in Bridgeport and surrounding towns.
Starting with some shooting at the Mayflower Motel in Milford on March 11, the company has moved on to a number of Bridgeport locations, including Mountain Grove Cemetery, McLevy Hall and the courthouse on Broad Street.
The production finished shooting earlier this week. The movie is being directed by Connecticut filmmaker Greg Friedle.
The revenge thriller has been a dream of Grimaldi's for the past few years, but he only put the project in motion last fall and still can't believe his story is already being filmed.
"To go from completing the script in October to wrapping the film in April is surprising to a lot of (movie) people," he said.
Grimaldi returned to Norwalk from a three-year corporate posting in Australia last year determined not to uproot his family again.
"I got back home and I started typing one day in September," he said during a break in shooting on Monday.
Before Grimaldi knew it, he had a first-draft screenplay and reached the decision to devote one year to making his movie dream a reality. An entertainment attorney put him in touch with the director as well as producer Michael Goodin of Scarlet Sky Productions. "And they took it from there," he said.
The neophyte writer knew enough to create a story that could be filmed quickly and relatively cheaply in his own backyard. "The key rule in low-budget movies is to write a script to fit your budget. You don't want to set your story in Bali," he said, laughing.
Grimaldi is executive producer of the film, as well as its writer and has invested about $200,000 in the production.
By keeping the budget in that ballpark, "The Word" qualifies as an "ultra low budget" movie under Screen Actors Guild salary guidelines.
Grimaldi said there also will be extensive credits given to area businesses and institutions in the final film and that he is hoping to plan a premiere in the city.
"The Word" is an intense drama about a man who becomes determined to find out who was responsible for the kidnapping and murder of his son. The character wrestles with his religious faith (hence the title) as he decides how far he might go to avenge the crime.
Since the state began offering tax credits to film production companies in 2006, nearly two dozen movie companies have done some location filming in the Park City.
In a few cases, like "Confessions of a Shopaholic" (2009) and "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" (2008), the movies have used Bridgeport to double for other cities, such as New York.
The 2008 Sean Penn and Robert DeNiro film "What Just Happened" used the Showcase Cinemas in Bridgeport as a filming location for several days, but in the finished film, the scenes were presented as taking place in a Southern California multiplex.
"Ours is a Connecticut story filmed in Connecticut," Grimaldi said of "The Word."
The writer-producer is looking forward to seeing where "The Word" will go after the director finishes editing the film in a few months.
"If everything goes according to plan, post-production should take six to eight weeks and we will start submitting it to distributors and festivals in July and August," he said.
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