C47Houston Flix Review:

"Goin' Guerrilla"


Mark McCarver and Stephanie Dunbar take a romantic independent movie making feature and teach a vital lesson on how to be a director in this Austin made movie by Director James Christopher.

C47Houston News & Entertainment Magazine took the time to attend the Houston screening of Director James Christopher’s feature comedy motion picture, “Goin’ Guerrilla” at Houston’s newest theater - the Alamo Drafthouse-Vintage Park on January 14th, 2014. WE met several people associated with the project including Mr. Christopher, Cinematographer Chris Copple, Actress Terissa Kelton and Associate Producer Michelle Mower.

As is typical of Houston, the support of independent projects did NOT fill up the theater. This, in our opinion, was a treat for us to have a small audience and the theater to ourselves. It made for a more realistic viewing experience. Prior to the screening we spoke with cinematographer Chris Copple who told us that he used a Canon D7 to shoot this movie in its entirely. Quite an accomplishment for a small hand held digital camera. His work on “Goin’ Guerrilla” is noticeably inline with regard to blocking, composition and lighting – photographic skills needed for making a movie.

Produced by Twitchy Dolphin Flix, out of Austin, “Goin’ Guerrilla” tells the story of Jeff (played by Mark McCarver), a ball-less independent screenwriter whose claim to fame comes from writing a series of T and A college comedy-sex movies with his partner and brother Tony (played by Luke Francis). Wanting to be more of a serious writer, Jeff becomes weary of and dissatisfied with these exploitation films after seeing that his movies are ending up in the five-dollar bin at the store. When an opportunity to write and direct a no-budget period romantic comedy called “Across the Sea of the Heart” comes his way, and to prove to investors that he can make a serious movie, Jeff, assembles a motley crew of filmmakers. One catch…he has to give the lead role to the TV star of the longest running sitcom in history, “My Girl Cindi”- child star, now grown up…Cindi (played by Ashley Serrao) who is trying to break into films but has no cinematic talent.

Spineless, whipped but determined to make this movie, Jeff meets the girl of his dreams Amanda (played by Stephanie Dunbar), an aspiring writer, actress and, at one time, a doormat and personal assistant to the diva Cindi. Conflict between the two women creates animosity on the set and Jeff is caught in the middle of having to make his movie with Cindi and the love for Amanda.

Seeing the troubles between the two women and the reluctance of Jeff to step up to the plate, the crew starts to lose respect and confidence in this first time director. Jeff must now find the courage to determine who will play the lead, how this movie will be made and lead the crew to the making of his break-out movie.

Written and Directed by James Christopher and with comedic flare, “Goin’ Guerrilla” is the 7th of a dozen feature movies by Twitchy Dolphin Flix.  Here, the director takes the audience, somewhat loosely, behind the scenes and on the set of movie-making with a not quite so professional but dedicated crew of filmmakers. Believable? It’s a movie.

At first, the story was a bit difficult to follow as there seemed to be a montage of scenes over-laid by a narration that back-tracked the history of the brothers Jeff and Tony as they rise and fall from fame with their exploitation movies, AND, at the same time, revealing the back-story leading the audience on the spiral down the TV diva’s inevitable career move to film. Rack it up as scene and character development, the opening sequence ran a little long as it explains the two opponents. 

This feature movie seems to become focused after the opening sequence, as there is a drastic drop in visual stimulation and fast cuts, giving the audience time to soak in the back-story and then move them forward to the plot and the substance of the story.

As the title of the movie reflects, “Goin’ Guerrilla”, the reference is that the moviemakers are taking steps to catch their scenes in public areas where permits and permission may be required. This is typical of independent movie-making characterize by lo-no budgets, simple crew and using whatever is available for props. The point is to be innovative in the process.  One interesting scene that the director captures, quite brilliantly, is the use of a US Battleship to enhance the making of their period war piece. Mr. Christopher explains it rather well and was able to visualize the “guerrilla” process.

A romantic comedy and a coming of “character” movie, the main characters, Jeff and Amanda, play the straight men, while the rest of the cast perform their idiocracies.

Technically, the movie is well made. The cinematographer’s use of the camera is outstanding in movement, angles and innovative shots. Sound was consistent throughout the entirety of the movie and the music soundtrack moved the film nicely to create mood and atmosphere. There wasn’t really anything jumping out at us with regard to its production value considering it was an independent movie. Casting was an ensemble of talented actors and deserve recognition for there performances. Believable and in “character”, each of the actors were easy to follow and identify with.

We feel the director did an excellent job in visualizing his story to the big screen. With more funding this director is well on his way to making studio movies.

What stuck in my mind was the lack of tying up the story within the story. Instead, Director James Christopher closes out the movie leaving the audience wondering what happened to the movie within the movie.

On a side note, there was a secondary story and the interjection of Tony throughout the movie, Jeff’s outlandish brother and director of the exploitation movie. Here, he is on his own to create a script and gathering inspiration from unconventional means, mostly scantly clad women. Yet, by the end of this movie the audience is lost as to why Tony’s scenes were save from the editors blade as they didn’t really contribute to the main plot of the movie - perhaps it served as a diversion or just comic relief. But, it works to move the primary story from one scene to the other – transitional scenes? Maybe.

Was this movie as funny as it was built up to be? WE don’t think so. It had its moments and some of the dialogue was witty, but overall it was, at best, entertaining and, at times, a bit slow.

This is the type of movie that you stick into your DVD/BluRay player when you want to watch something that doesn’t demand your time to think. If you space out or leave the room you can pretty much pick up where you left off and not have missed anything important. It’s not that funny of a movie but it is a fun movie to watch. Funlarious? Hardly. But, from a directing standpoint James Christopher did a fantastic job in capturing and telling a story called “Goin’ Guerrilla”. Check it out for yourself and support independent filmmaking.

WE give it a 3.8 out of 5 on the TSIRS scale.

C47Houston was at the screening and we took some pictures. You can see them at: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10203036607855634.1073741860.1218281768&type=1&l=1ffea673bb 

C47Houston News & Entertainment Magazine was able to grab Director James Christopher prior to the screening of his movie and he talked about his new feature. You can see that video on our YouTube Channel at: http://youtu.be/aBDrWrIrJ3w 

“Goin’ Guerrilla”

Production Studio: Twitchy Dolphin Flix

Release 2012

Running time: 96 Minutes

Texas Premiere: October 19th, 2013 – Austin, TX

Houston Premiere: January 14th, 2014

Director James Christopher

Written/Screenplay by: James Christopher

Cinematographer: Chris Copple

Editor: Sonia Melendez

MUA: Caitlin Sweeney

Sound Mike Donis

Executive Producer: Nathan Bybee, Jessica Bybee-Dziedzic

Producers: Francis Casanova (Rodriquez), James Christopher, Terissa Kelton, Lauren Shelton and Allison Wood

Associate Producers: Michelle Mower, Marc Wasserman

Casting:Mark McCarver, Stephanie Dunbar, Benjamin Jabe, Phillip Emanuel, Luke Francis, Terissa Kelton, Christian Swacker, Heather Wallis, Natalie Wilemon, Ashely Serrao, Daniel Cano, Allison Wood, Bobby Simpson II, James Christopher, Carlo Rodriguez.

Website: www.TwitchyDolphin.com








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