Hardin pic finds unusual way to get attention

What does it take to get some attention for a DIY indie feature these days? For thesp Melora Hardin, it takes the backing of a Tampa, Fla. TV station, the local Buick dealers association and a preem at a Tampa film fest.

“You,” the self-financed family drama directed by Hardin and penned by her thesp husband, Gildart Jackson, will get the red-carpet treatment as part of the Gasparilla Intl. Film Festival in Tampa on March 19. The event will be hosted by WMOR-TV, the Hearst Television-owned station in Tampa-St. Petersburg market and sponsored by the Tampa Area Buick Dealers. “You” will bow with special event fanfare on WMOR on March 25.

The unusual partnership on “You” came about last fall, when Hardin visited WMOR as part of the off-network syndication promo tour for “The Office,” which began airing in reruns on the station in September.

Hardin and Jackson hit it off with WMOR prexy and g.m. Ken Lucas and his wife over dinner, and the group got to talking about “You.” Hardin and Jackson lensed the pic about three years ago, leaning on the kindness of actor friends including Joely Fisher, Brenda Strong, Allison Mack, Amy Pietz and Hardin’s father, Jerry Hardin. Melora Hardin and Jackson play the leads in the fantasy-romance about a widower who tries to keep the memory of his wife alive as he raises their daughter.

“It’s a love story about a family made by a family,” Hardin says. Jackson wrote the script while he was away from Hardin and their newborn daughter for a long stretch of filming. She read his first draft of the script while she was getting her nails done. “I was crying so hard I had to leave” the shop, Hardin says.

After Lucas screened the pic, he brainstormed the idea of tying in with the local film fest in a way that would generate awareness for a TV airing of “You.”

“Ken and the people at the festival were so positive about the film,” Hardin says. “It all just fell into place — magically.”

Hardin still has hopes for a theatrical release — Cinetic and a foreign sales agent are shopping the pic — but her overriding goal is to get it in front of auds via DVD, iTunes and even YouTube (where it’s available for free streaming). Last year, in between Hardin’s stint on Broadway in “Chicago” and her recording seshes for just-released pop album “All the Way to Mars,” Hardin and Jackson hosted public screenings and Q&A seshes in a number of cities.

“It’s been quite a feat of love and passion by everybody involved,” Hardin says.

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