LCCC Professor Creates Comedy in Alton Area
A local professor at Lewis and Clark Community College, Lainee Frizzo, has written and produced a movie filmed in the Alton area.
The movie, “Drinksgiving,” is a comedy that tells the story of Sarah Douglas as she throws a party the night before Thanksgiving. She and her friends get into all sorts of quirky situations, which results in disaster and hilarity.
Frizzo grew up in Godfrey and attended Alton schools all the way through high school. After going to University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) for English/Rhetoric and University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) for a MFA in creative writing, where she first started writing screenplays, she moved back and started teaching at LCCC.
“Besides the eight years I was away, I’ve pretty much lived in the area my whole life,” Frizzo said.
Warm Soda Magazine was lucky enough to interview Frizzo to discuss the making of “Drinksgiving.”
Do you like the holiday Thanksgiving? Is that why you made a movie about it?
I wouldn't say it's my favorite holiday, no, but when I went away for school, I always enjoyed meeting up with friends around the holidays, and the night before Thanksgiving was usually a good time. I love Halloween, but there are already Halloween movies.
We realized that no one had created a movie about the night before Thanksgiving, and we thought it would be a good idea to put out the movie before someone else had the idea. We thought of it one year a while back when we had seen a number of Facebook postings about it, most of them referring to the night as Skanksgiving.
So, originally, our movie was called Skanksgiving, but we quickly changed it because that wasn't really what we were going for. The first version of this was set in a bar. But, we realized that would be costly — renting out a bar for two weeks — or finding an abandoned bar we could use just didn't seem practical. So, we figured out it would be a lot easier to do a contained story that took place (mostly) in one location. Which ended up being our house.
The majority of the movie was filmed at your house. What was that like?
It's something we don't want to do again, not for a full two weeks anyway. But, it was fine — nothing was broken, no one was injured (thank goodness.) Living on a film set, one for a party movie no less, and not being able to clean up the messes that were part of
the set decoration — that was frustrating.
Plus, a few of us were staying in the house during the process. It was like the worst Airbnb you can imagine. We did put up the actors who were here for a long time in hotels, so they didn't have to stay here.
I was in charge of most of the catering, and it's difficult to actually make food in a "staged" kitchen. Lucky for us, our neighbors are all nice. They all knew about the film shoot, and some of them were extras in the movie. They'd help us keep food in the fridge and park at their houses. On top of that, our son stayed with our parents for those two weeks and we found a nice person to watch our dog. So, it was a hassle, but it was worth it.
The script was written by two people, you and your husband. What parts would you say come from you compared to your husband?
This is an oversimplification, but when we write, John usually does story and I do dialogue, scenic material. But, I throw in story ideas, and he throws in dialogue.
This one was different because it was written very quickly — so we could film it over that summer. And, a lot of great improv actors were involved, so we knew they'd be adding some lines to it.
Two parts that weren't really improv, that I had fun writing were: the conversation between Sarah and Joe when she goes on a big diatribe about being single and people telling her to buy a condo... and then the conversation out by the garage between Mandy and Jake where they're each having parallel conversations and she's, for some reason, talking about the Spin Doctors.
When you were writing the script, did you ever find yourself learning something new from the experience?
We definitely learned to keep the location flexible, but most of our learning came from the filming process, I'd say.
In hindsight, is there anything you wish you had known before you started filming?
We wish we'd known how much time and money post production would take... and how long it would take to get the movie out so people can see it. After we got Circus Road as our sales agent and then Gravitas Ventures as our distributor, things started rolling.
At first, when we'd just wrapped the movie, people were asking, "When will it be out?" They didn't realize, and neither did we, how long and involved the process was. There’s so much to it: editing, color grading, sound mixing, sending out the movie to various places, etc.
What do you hope people experience when they watch your movie?
We hope they have a good time watching it! We hope they like the characters or can relate to them. We tried to have a female-driven party movie, one that wasn't like a road trip movie or bachelorette party — and we wanted to focus on a main character who doesn't
give a crap about being in a relationship at this point in her life. She's just trying to do something nice and throw a party for her friends (and a few random strangers) and her efforts meet with mixed results.
What advice would you give to people who are seriously interested in making movies?
We're no experts on this subject, but find a good team. We were lucky to have some talented, reliable, super nice people involved with the project (some we already knew and some we met on this project).
Also, maybe start small with what you film. Make what you can with the money you have. This is our second film project — our first was a horror short called “Innards.” We learned a lot making that short film. For me, when we made “Innards,” I learned that filming a movie involves a lot of sitting still and being quiet on the set.
What new projects are you working on?
I'm working on fiction again — short stories mostly. John and I are working on a revision of the full-length script for “Innards,” and we are working with some companies so that we can (hopefully) start pre-production on that soon. We have a number of scripts we are working on at any given time.
If you are interesting in watching “Drinksgiving,” it is available on Hulu, Amazon and streamable through Amazon Prime.
Written by HP Jarden