Online Forty-Niner: Fall 2001: DIVERSIONS
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VOL. IX, NO. 14
CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, LONG BEACH
SEPTEMBER 18, 2001


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diversions: film review

LB Film Fest kicks off

By Alisha Gomez
On-line Forty-Niner

Amidst the chaos, the Long Beach Film Festival continued with its opening night last Friday. Before it began, everyone took a moment of silence and prayer, followed by voluntary donations to the American Red Cross.

The festival premiered with "Seven Girlfriends," starring Tim Daly ("Wings"), Olivia D'Abo (Wayne's World 2"), Laura Leighton ( "Melrose Place"), Mimi Rogers ("The Geena Davis Show") and Ayre Gross ("Gone in Sixty Seconds").

Director Paul Lazarus, known for his work on TV shows like "Melrose Place" and "Grounded For Life," appeared at the special showing, along with actors Laura Leighton, Adilah Barnes, Katy Selver-stone, and nine-month pregnant Melora Hardin. Hardin's due date was last Sunday, but she still showed up, glowing and full of smiles.

"Seven Girlfriends," Lazarus's first feature film, was written together with Scott Gregg. Before the open discussion began, Lazarus clearly stated that the film was not autobiographical.

The movie is about Jesse (Tim Daly), who is in his thirties and at a crisis point in his life where he cannot maintain a serious relationship with a woman.

While his ex-girlfriend, Anabeth, phones him about getting married, she dies on the road while talking to him. Jesse, in shock, then decides that something is wrong with his life when his current girlfriend, Hannah (Oliva D' Abo) tells Jesse that he does not know how to be in a relationship. Jesse thinks that the answer to his relationship problems can be found by contacting all his ex-girlfriends and asking them, "Why did you break up with me?" Jesse's adventure then begins with embarrassing moments and plenty of laughter.

Although a low-budget film, Lazarus said that he did not want to announce to everyone that the feature was a low-budget film in case it would affect people's opinions of the film.

"We didn't want anyone to come out of the film and say that it was pretty good for a low-budget film," Lazarus said.

Many wondered how Lazarus got so many talented actors to work with him on the project.

Leighton, who plays Anabeth, was eager to work with Lazarus on the project.

"Paul had a number of readings and most of us had a chance to get involved with the project -- Paul's enthusiasm was great," Leighton said.

A live performance by Melora Hardin, who plays Laura, a friend of Jesse's ex-girlfriend Lisa, was a reason for his strong interest in the project.

"I loved that I could sing and act on a film," Hardin said. "It is also great for any woman to play a good female part."

Hardin sang one song live, and played the piano as well, but the piano playing was done at a different time than in joint with her singing.

It took the cast and crew 27 days to shoot the film in 23 different locations. There are many shots in Utah and Los Angeles. Griffith Park was one of the many sites used for scenes.

"We were originally going to shoot in Chicago and go to the North-East," Lazarus said. "We didn't get enough money so we thought, 'why not use a location we are already in?' "

The cast and crew used every resource possible to complete this project.

"While shooting in San Francisco, there was this man's apartment on a corner from where we were going to shoot," Hardin said. "He let us use his apartment as a dressing room. So there were Tim and I putting each other's make-up on in this man's apartment."

All throughout the film, there were many great shots of Jesse just driving with nothing but the countryside as his view.

"With the driving scenes we just couldn't cheat any of those locations by filming them in LA," Lazarus said.

Lazarus said that he had been playing around with his idea for the film for two years before he decided to go forward on the project. It took another three years to get the film together.

"It was very difficult to make it feel like Jessie was not just going to one woman after another," Lazarus said. "We had to pull a lot of tricks in the film. We tried to make you feel like you know where you are in the film. Then pull the rug out under you."

"Seven Girlfriends" was finished about a year ago and had a difficult time gaining distribution. It has appeared in several film festivals, received rave reviews and won several awards.

The Long Beach International Film Festival will continue through Sept. 23. For more information, check out www.longbeachfilmfestival.com.

filler

Anabeth and Jesse

White Dwarf Productions

Anabeth (Laura Leighton) loves to take sex-driven pictures with Jesse (Tim Daly), as well as with many other men. Jesse, thinking he is the only man she has ever done this, finds out later he is not.


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