Tedder

Local Director Enters Film Into Festivals

What do you do when all hope seems lost, all joy gone from your life, and all that you held dear is taken away from you? That’s the question examined in the short film, Wait . . .

The film follows John H. Kavazanjian Sr., a working-class father who receives word that his son, an enlisted soldier in the United States armed forces, has died in Iraq.

“It says, ?remain hopeful,’” the film’s writer and director Bob Pondillo said. “Hope is really its central message. When things seem their darkest, have hope and wait.”

Wait . . . , Pondillo’s third short film following Would You Cry If I Died? and My Name is Wallace, is a stylistic departure from his earlier work.

“I’ve never done a special effects piece before,” Pondillo said. “I’m known for light comedy pieces, et cetera, and this film has an essential ?in-your-face’ special effect in it. I wanted to challenge my students with a difficult piece of production in terms of lighting, sound and camera, and this movie certainly fits the bill.

“And finally, my stepson Matt is fighting in Iraq, his second tour, by the way. There’s not a day that goes by that his mom and I don’t think of him. In that way this is a very personal movie for me, so I was also inspired to ?say something’ about how difficult this war has been on the families of service men.”

Pondillo, professor of electronic media communication at Middle Tennessee State University, had a budget of $1,700 to work with, $1,200 of his own money and $500 from MTSU’s Department of Electronic Media Communication, and a crew of 15 MTSU students.

“They were all handpicked students of mine or students recommended by other faculty members,” Pondillo said. “I worked with two of them on my earlier film, My Name is Wallace, Daniel Rowland on sound and Jacob Smithson on lighting. Every one of the students were exceptional: focused, hard working, wanting to make the story come alive. I’m very proud of them all. Jonathan Parris, our special effects wizard was amazing.”

The role of John H. Kavazanjian, Sr. is played by David Lawrence, who has worked with Pondillo previously as the lead character in My Name is Wallace.

“It was very different,” Lawrence said. “When you walk in for auditions and the casting director says ?You know this is a comedy right’ you know you’re dealing with something different. Bob is a very emotional guy. It was one long, deep day.”

Wait . . . has been submitted to 40 film festivals. It has already been accepted by DigiFest in Florence, Italy and named an “Official Selection” at the West Hollywood International Film Festival.

But not all of the responses have been positive.

“We were banned in San Diego,” Pondillo said. “Details remain sketchy, but since the movie is often seen as an ?antiwar’ film, and the U.S. military is an integral part of San Diego’s economy, serious freedom of expression questions are raised . . . San Diegoans should at least have the right to see the film and make up their own minds.”

Check out Wait for yourself at waitfilm.com or YouTube.com.

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