the untold story
Sundance came and went. Clinking glasses grew silent, smartphones stopped ringing and starry-eyes glazed over. The worst and darkest thing had happened: The Best and the Brightest, despite its A-list cast, wouldn’t light the inside of a movie theater. Director Josh Shelov, like Rudy outside the walls of Notre Dame, didn’t get in. But then his irascible spirit emerged. There he was with a film “in the can.” So he kicked it.
He approached the film’s co-producer, Declan Baldwin, about setting up a few screenings themselves. Declan is a practical man. He knows the bottom line better than anyone, and respects it. But he has a childlike mischief in his eyes—a fearlessness and a sense of adventure. He would do it. Luckily, these outlaws were aided and abetted by the shrewd mind and independent spirit of Producer Patricia Weiser. She wouldn’t stand in the way.
So they set up a screening in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan.
Along came Jill Savarese, a “small gold mine” Josh once called her. She was an actress and a producer who had dabbled in PR. At first, she was just going to help by posting to facebook. Then she set up some screenings—at AADA, the Shubert and others. But the screenings needed publicity, so she emailed to Josh, “Do you want to do a TV interview with NBC 30?” Soon, she was in a meeting with Declan, Josh, Mark Oxman and Corey Deckler, Declan’s two office employees. How could she help the most? So she became the Director of Publicity and Promotions.
The campaign began in earnest. With the help of various filmmakers and volunteers in locations across the country, called “local coordinators,” they began setting up and publicizing screenings. In PA, Bill Crossland set up several screenings and helped with editing DVD extras. Chrissy Hogue established one of the longest runs the film has had in Iowa. Soon, Erin Miller joined the office as a member of Big Indie and helped set up screenings. The list of people working tirelessly to get this film seen was growing exponentially—friends, students, actors and filmmakers wanting to make industry connections as well as fans of the actors. With the grassroots campaign growing deliberately viral, the Big Indie team set up nearly 200 screenings. Thanks to Josh’s chutzpah and a gaggle of elves, he would get to see his film in theaters after all.