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Jefferson Root Written by Jefferson Root
Mar. 18, 2010 | 3:56 PM

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ONE TOO MANY MORNINGS at the Downtown Independent

ONE TOO MANY MORNINGS-March 16th, 2010 Downtown Independent

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          Every independent filmmaker wants to get into Sundance.  This is much easier said than done, of course, as the festival now boasts a lower acceptance rate than several Ivy League colleges.  But even if you do get in, theatrical distribution prospects for small budget indies are dicey at best.  In such an oversaturated marketplace, it’s important for filmmakers to explore every possible avenue in order to get their films seen.  This is exactly what the filmmakers behind the wining new indie comedy ONE TOO MANY MORNINGS intend to do, and they’d like you to know that they may soon be coming to your town.

The film, co-written by Anthony Deptula, Stephen Hale, and Michael Mohan, and directed by Mohan, screened for an enthusiastic audience at the Downtown Independent in Los Angeles on Tuesday night. Located adjacent to downtown’s burgeoning Old Bank District, and located on a plot of land that has housed movie theatres since 1924, the new Downtown Independent is a sleek state of the art facility that has been programming indies since 2008.

Described as “a coming of age tale about guys who are way too old to be coming of age”, the film details two high school friends who come together for a few days during a period of crisis for both.  On the surface, Fischer (played by Hale) seems to have a pretty soft life.  He’s living rent free in a church apartment in exchange for turning out the lights and locking the door, and his only responsibility seems to be coaching a little league soccer team in his spare time.  But Fischer is adrift.  Our first introduction to him is watching him kneeling in front of the toilet after a night of heavy drinking, and he later adds insult to injury by throwing up on the back of one of his young soccer players.  Enter Peter, who’s driven all night to spend a few days with his friend after a fight with Rudy, his girlfriend of five years.  Right away, Fischer determines that Rudy has been cheating, but Peter refuses to give details.  Shot in crisp black and white, the movie reveals its truths in unexpectedly funny and poignant ways.

Deptula, Hale and Mohan were all present for Q & A after the film, as was screenwriter John August, who moderated the discussion.  August first gained attention as the screenwriter of Doug Liman’s second feature “Go”, but he has since amassed a number of big budget credits, including three films directed by Tim Burton.  But August has also established a reputation as a friend to the indie filmmaker; his website John is a consistently updated repository of useful information for working and aspiring screenwriters. 

August began by polling the audience as to whether they wanted to hear more about the origin of the film, or more about the filmmakers innovative distribution strategy.  The origin story generated more enthusiasm, and the filmmakers were more than happy to tell their tale.  After abandoning a horror script they were working on for a story with more personal connections (Hale actually does live in a church apartment in Pacific Palisades), the three actually went out and shot the first 40 pages of their script for under $2,000.  Once that was done, they were able to use the footage they had to attract potential investors.  The budget of the finished film hovered around $50,000.  This put them in a perfect position to submit Mornings to NEXT, a new section for low budget features which was new at Sundance for 2010. 

Once the film was accepted to Sundance, the filmmakers continued to work on ways to explore new distribution channels.  First and foremost was a deal that allowed Mornings to be one of a handful of films that debuted on YouTube at the same time as its Sundance premiere.  The film is still available for download through YouTube for $3.99 for a 48 hr rental.  When you’re dealing with a relatively small number like $50,000, every dollar counts, and Mohan and co. will gratefully accept every download fee, DVD sale, and movie admission they can muster.  The plan is to screen the movie at various colleges around the country, while at the same time building momentum for the film through word of mouth and on the web.  And for all you would be indie moguls out there; if you go to the film’s website,, the domestic distribution rights can be yours for the very reasonable price of $100,000.  PayPal accepted.