While it has become commonplace for two people to script and helm a pic together, a threesome filmmaking team is decidedly not the norm, especially if the pic they create is as uniquely personal as the distrib-less indie “Jerome.”
The very low-budget “Jerome” is making waves on the fest circuit, being fought over by L.A.’s Hollywood and AFI film fests (AFI won out) and skedded for slots at the New York Independent Feature Project market and at the Austin Heart of Film Festival.
Thomas Johnston, David Elton and Eric Tignini have been best friends since they were in high school. They shared a love of film and decided to attend San Francisco State’s film program together, where they united as a creative team. The trio wrote feature scripts together, made a short together and each embarked on significant Hollywood careers.
Johnston is a script supervisor who most recently worked on Robert Redford’s “The Horse Whisperer” and has had a long association with the filmmaking Coen brothers; Elton is a set decorator whose recent production work includes “City of Angels” and “George of the Jungle”; and Tignini is an A.D. who, among other projects, filled that position on “Forrest Gump.”
Despite their individual successes, the trio still shared the dream to make a feature movie together. When they completed “Jerome,” they contacted another close high school buddy, actor/comedian David Spade, who was happy to help out his friends financially and became the film’s exec producer, assisting with casting.
“We’d known each other since high school, and we’ve just kept on working with each other. We knew we wrote this with the understanding that we’d all direct it together,” Johnston says.
The pic is a black comedy about a Bakersfield, Calif., welder who just can’t get a break; he tries to “escape” his banal life by hitting the road and heading to Arizona to become an artist.
“We were all really plugged into (the protagonist’s” mind),” Elton said. “We could relate to his troubles, but unlike him, with this film, we’ve all sort of become what we’ve always wanted to be, and we’ve done it together.”