By Jerry Del Priore
Filmmaker Frey Forde said there’s the belief amongst people in the entertainment industry that a comedy can’t survive past 30 minutes.
So Forde and his fellow moviemaking partner in crime, Catherine Dee Holly, set out to disprove that adage with the production of Pop-Pop is Dead, an hour-long indie comedy film set for its New York City premier at the Winter Film Awards on February 19, in the last block of movies from 7:45-10:45 at Cinema Village Theater at East 12 Street.
“They say comedy can’t hold itself past 30 minutes,” said Forde, who also stars as Desi West, part of a mix racial millennium couple who return to his girlfriend, Layla Bailey’s (played by Catherine Dee Holly) hometown of Gaffney, South Carolina, for her grandfather’s funeral.
They said the entire moviemaking process, shot with an all-volunteer 40-person crew, lasted a year — from writing the script to editing. The final product turned out to be something that brought them both great satisfaction.
“It started out as a 30-minute movie, but it blew up to an hour,” Forde said. “We’re very proud (of the movie). When we started the project, we didn’t know where it was going to take us. I got to see the (positive) connection it had with our audiences, and that makes us proud.”
As for Holly, who grew up in Gaffney, she said Pop-Pop is Dead was loosely based on her true life events, and changing the centerpiece of the story from her grandmother to her grandfather, who is still alive, made for a smoother process.
“I think the grandmother stuff was too raw,” Holly said. “I think it was easier to center it around my grandfather. The story was about self-assurance. The hardest part was about accepting my past.”
A big, humorous part of the film features Gaffeney’s famous Peachoid, a 135 feet water tower that resembles a peach, but Holly said it also looks like someone’s posterior.
Additionally, the town is known for being the place where the Netflix TV series House of Cards was shot. Plus, they used Holly’s old home for scenes in which the Bailey family argue whether or not Pop-Pop’s home should be sold or kept in the family.
“The environment is 100 percent spot on,” said Holly, who sustained a concussion during the knockdown, drag out fight scene with her on-screen sister in-law, Katie-Rose Bailey, played by actress Megan Poole.
Being an indie film with just a $15,000 budget, both filmmakers knew they had to rely on good storytelling, instead of elaborate props and graphics, while holding multiple roles in the movie.
“We always feel like we’re switching hats,” Forde said. “For a couple of months, we were writers, for a couple of months, we were directors, and for a short time, we were actors.”
In addition to writing, directing, producing and acting for Forde, the 24-year-old curly-haired funnyman has been performing comedy since the age of 19, and has a short film on Amazon Prime called Good Hair and is a cast member of the 2019 CBS Diversity Sketch Showcase Variety Show, which began its six-show run on January 15 at the El Portal Theater in Los Angeles, California.
But he said he lives for producing self-expression art through the digital world and other mediums, and would relish in the idea of making more films if it was financially feasible.
“I think, at the end of the day, being a content creator is what my heart gravitates toward,” he said. I would make (movies) every day of my life if someone would give us the money.”
Pop-Pop is Dead world premiered at the Buck Head Theater in Atlanta, Georgia, on August 29th, while its LA screening took place at the Los Angeles Comedy Film Festival on November 16.
For more information of the Winter Film Awards and movie showtimes, log onto https://winterfilmawards.com/
Watch the Pop-Pop is Dead Trailer Below: