‘Waking Up’ and the First Rule

When I first got started in this entertainment writing business I had one rule: Don’t Review Local.

(Actually I had two rules. The other was Don’t Write About High School Productions. I broke that rule once in desperation and paid the price later, so I made it a point not to break the first rule.)

I’ve written many restaurant features and preview stories for local theater companies, but I never review them. What if they suck? I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, especially if I’m dealing with them on a regular basis. And I certainly don’t want to piss off restaurant people. I gotta eat just like everyone else and I don’t want to worry about what’s in my food.

But I can give Brad Pitt bad reviews all day long. He doesn’t know where I live, heck, he doesn’t know I exist. And he’s got piles of money and Angelina Jolie — what does he care what I think?

So imagine my quandary when I received an e-mail at the end of June from a local filmmaker named Jorgen Pedersen, inviting me to a screening of “Waking Up,” his first feature film. “I love The Rroy Report and would appreciate the support,” he wrote.

Now, I don’t know Mr. Pedersen and I don’t know how he found the Report. But he certainly said the right thing. Flattery will get you everywhere with me. However, I was busy the night of the screening so I was unable to attend. I thanked him for the invitation and the kind words, but had to decline. I figured I was off the hook.

Then he offered to send me a copy of the movie. What could I do? I did want to see it. And this guy could be the next Stephen Spielberg, and it would certainly be beneficial to me to have the next Stephen Spielberg in my corner. But what if it doesn’t work for me? I don’t want to piss off the next Stephen Spielberg, not to mention my only fan who isn’t related to me or a friend or former co-worker. And if I give it a good review won’t people just think I’m sucking up to the next Stephen Spielberg and doubt my credibility?

This is why I don’t review local.

But hey, a free movie’s a free movie, so I popped the DVD in the machine. “Waking Up” is a romance with sci-fi undertones. Martin Brown (Jeremy Curran) is a school teacher who likes to sleep late during summer break. His wife Jennifer (Amy Burke) hassles him about wasting his summer in  bed. Neither of these people come across particularly well.

When Jennifer dies in a car crash, Martin spends more time in bed. While sleeping his dreams — or is he dreaming? — take him back in time to various points in their relationship. Martin takes this second chance as an opportunity to fix mistakes he made with Jennifer the first time around. And believe me, he made many a mistake. It’s kinda hard to figure out why Jen married him to begin with.

I thought “Waking Up” was pretty ambitious for a first feature-length film. It was an interesting concept and thought-provoking. It has some rough edges but I’m guessing it didn’t have a large budget.

If you’d like to see it — well, that’s the tricky part. I asked Jorgen what his plans were for the film and he said he’s gong to try the festival circuit next. If you’d like more information you can google his company — Bare Bear Productions.

Bears. They’re everywhere.

Anyway, good luck with it Jorgen. If you do become the next Stephen Spielberg, remember me when you need a publicist or biographer.

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