Gaffney residents win top awards at film festival
Stacked up against several other movie projects and given only a short window of time to make an impact — 10 minutes — local filmmakers Abe Duenas and Adam Gordon, as well as Madison Nolte knew they would have to put their best foot forward if they wanted to do well at last month’s Expecting Goodness Short Film Festival in Spartanburg.
Little did each of them know their best effort would be enough to outdo all other films at the event, each of the Gaffney residents coming home with top honors.
“It’s quite a challenge to get things into a 10-minute window, because the most challenging thing with every film is if the audience doesn’t care about the characters, they certainly won’t care about the movie,” Duenas said. “These aren’t feature films where you can gradually tell the story and let things play out. We had to cram everything into 10 minutes, and let it fall from there.
“All I went into (the film festival) hoping was for us to have done our best. But to come away with awards … I couldn’t be much happier.”
Expecting Goodness Short Film Festival is a gathering of amateur and professional filmmakers in the Upstate, whose goal is through community gatherings, workshops, lectures and other events to generate enthusiasm for film and educate countless others about the industry. The short films chosen are from Expecting Goodness’ collection of 20 Southern short stories by established and up-and-coming authors from Spartanburg.
Focusing on a widower’s constant struggle with understanding the needs of his three young girls, Duenas’ film “The Widower’s Pearls,” and adaptation of author Kathryn Brackett’s short story “Girl Talk,” was named the festival’s Best Film.
“Thankfully, I had the opportunity of adapting a story about a widower who burns supper and has to take his three daughters, all with their own unique issues that night, out to a too-familiar diner one evening,” Duenas said in a blog post describing the movie. “Although the majority of people today are not widowers or widows, people will be able to relate to the characters and imagine what they may be feeling, because everyone understands the concept of grief, pain and loss. The film also has a good amount of comedy and drama, basically what you would call a dramedy.”
Nolte, who would claim the award for the film festival’s Best Actor or Actress, played the role of “Katie”, a 12-year old girl struggling between the pressures of being a pre-teen while being thrust into helping her father, a widower named “Alan,” help raise her two siblings, 9- year old “Megan” and 5-year old “Jilly.”
“(Nolte’s) role was obviously one of the most important, that and the father’s,” Duenas said. “Katie is complaining of a stomach ache and he’s trying to get to the bottom of it, while the other girls go through their own set of issues. The girls want to show they’re grown and can make their own decision; but instead realize they still need their father. In fact, all the characters realize just how much they need each other.”
The motion picture was filmed solely at the famed Harold’s Restaurant in downtown Gaffney. In addition to Nolte, the film features the talents of Elijah Chester, Olivia Chester and Zoe Clarke.
As a youth, Gordon and his cousins would re-enact movies, creating their own props and small sets. Obviously, his passion for such has not waned into adulthood, the local resident named the festival’s best editor for his work on author Susan Tekulve’s “The Nipper,” a story which tells of the consequences when tasks and priorities are not met.
“Movies have been a big part of my life; I was completely moved by movies and the film industry in general,” he said. “But by working on this short film I tried to take a look at the entire picture; trying to see things as if I were the viewer. What would I want to see if I were in their shoes?”
According to Gordon, the Gaffney contingent came in as underdogs, so he felt quite vindicated when three of the event’s award’s were brought to Cherokee County.
“We were just enthusiastic to get anything,” he said. “But to get as many awards as we did… just outstanding.”