FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 1, 2010
EDITORIAL CONTACT: Gina Logue, 615-898-5081
Dr. Bob Pondillo, 615-904-8465
“NEW, TRUE CHARLIE WU” SET FOR DEBUT APRIL 17 AT PREMIERE 6
MTSU Students, Alums, Professor Collaborate on Acclaimed Short Film
(MURFREESBORO) – The initial public viewing of “The New, True Charlie Wu,” the fourth independent film from Dr. Bob Pondillo, associate professor of electronic media communication, and his “MTSU Movie Mafia” will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 17, at Premiere 6 Theater, 810 NW Broad St. in Murfreesboro.
In addition, there will be multiple special nighttime showings from 7-10 p.m. that evening on the first floor of the John Bragg Mass Communication Building. Attendees will be able to enjoy live music, refreshments and a silent auction and mingle with Pondillo and the actors.
The short movie follows the title character, a young accountant who is disenchanted with his job, on a trip into his subconscious mind, where his overbearing boss and a gospel choir compete for his soul and his future. Along the way, a marching band, cheerleaders and a barbershop quartet join the mystical experience. Pondillo says Charlie’s story was really Pondillo’s story several years ago. “In my dream, a woman floated up to me saying, ‘Be somebody else before you’re 40,’” says Pondillo. “I took that notion and built it into the ‘Charlie Wu’ movie. When you have a dream, part of you is talking to you, trying to make sense of something.” “Charlie Wu” already has received the Remi Award out of more than 2,400 entries at the 43rd annual Worldfest, the oldest independent film festival in the country, in Houston, as well as “Best Comedy Short” awards from the Smogdance International Film Festival in Pomona, Calif., and the Fifteen Minutes of Fame Film Festival in Palm Bay, Fla., and an “Honorable Mention” at the Los Angeles Reel Film Festival in Los Angeles. In addition, “The Director’s Cut,” a program produced and presented by Wisconsin Public Television, will tape an interview with Pondillo about the making of “Charlie Wu” on May 11 for two airings throughout the statewide TV network, in addition to broadcasts of the movie itself, on dates to be determined later.
However, more important to Pondillo than the acclaim is the creative incubator for students interested in learning the craft of filmmaking and talented alumni who welcome a friendly atmosphere in which to further their talents. Pondillo’s projects offer them experiential learning opportunities that can be invaluable on a resume or in a portfolio. “MTSU production students are great!” says Pondillo. “These young people have been brought up around editing systems that are right on their computers when they get them. What we try to teach them are sound, lighting, photography, but mostly storytelling through narrative and character development.”
About 30 undergraduates and six graduate students worked on the film, along with alums Matthew and Scott Pessoni, veterans of all four Pondillo projects, and professional actor David Lawrence, whose credits include the television series “Lost,” “The Unit,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” and “Heroes.”
“Bob puts a lot of effort into his projects, and he does them extremely well,” says 22-year-old Brian Harstine, a senior from Ooltewah who worked on preproduction and did most of the editing. “He has a great mind for storytelling, and working on ‘Charlie Wu’ with him really helped me grow.” Regional entertainers also made a vital contribution to the movie, which was shot at Nashville’s DR&A Studios on March 12-13, 2009. Pondillo tapped Scat Springs, who had relatively little acting experience, for the role of Brother Chaz after seeing him perform with his band.
“Pondillo made it so fun,” Springs says. “He’s got the technical thing down, but the creative part comes from his gut. He directs by feel, and I sort of perform by feel.”
Cissy Crutcher, who plays Sister Charlene, says it was “an amazing experience because the cast and crew were so patient and hardworking.” She also fell in love with the film’s message.
“It’s a positive teaching to people of any age to figure out what path they’re going to take,” says Crutcher. “It takes courage to break away. You can see parts of yourself in those characters.”
Tickets for the daytime premiere are $8 for admission only or $10 for admission and a copy of the director’s cut DVD. There will be multiple showings, and concessions will be available. At the nighttime premiere, admission is $10 per person or $20 with inclusion of the DVD.
ATTENTION, MEDIA: For full-color posters and photo stills from “The New, True Charlie Wu,” contact Gina Logue in the MTSU Office of News and Public Affairs at 615-898-5081 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LIST OF ACCOLADES FOR “THE NEW, TRUE CHARLIE WU”
Official Selections: 2010 Kent International Film Festival, Kent, Conn.
2010 New Hope International Film Festival, New Hope, Penn.
2010 Wildwood Film Festival, Appleton, Wisc.
2010 Staten Island Film Festival, Staten Island, N.Y.
2010 Trail Dance Film Festival, Duncan, Okla.
Nominations: “Best Comedy Short” and “Best Actor” (David Lawrence), 2010 Trail Dance Film Festival, Duncan, Okla.
Mention: 2010 Los Angeles Reel Film Festival, Los Angeles, Calif.
Winner, BestComedy Short: 2010 Smogdance International Film Festival, Pomona, Calif. 2010 Fifteen Minutes of Fame Film Festival, Palm Bay, Fla.
Winner, RemiAward: 2010 Worldfest, Houston
With three Nobel Prize winners among its alumni and former faculty, Middle Tennessee State University confers master’s degrees in 10 areas, the Specialist in Education degree, the Doctor of Arts degree and the Doctor of Philosophy degree. MTSU is ranked among the top 100 public universities in the nation in the Forbes “America’s Best Colleges” 2009 survey.