November 2007

Betting on SIDEBET$

Author: Paul deVere

Local Writer has Sights Set on Hollywood

Question: Can a 50-year-old Pennsylvania girl, who has lived on Hilton Head Island since 1997, break into Hollywood as a screenwriter?

Answer: Stay tuned.

It all started when writer, Jodie Randisi, and husband, Joe, heard a funny story at a party back in ’04 at the Palmetto Hall clubhouse. “It was hilarious. They told us the club championship is not about the trophies, it’s all about the side bets. Side bets are so complicated that the wives are left behind to keep track of everything, like who’s going to see a squirrel first, or is the cart girl wearing a thong,” Randisi laughed.

That night, on their return home, Jodie and Joe Randisi asked that fatal question that has plagued writers well before they could word process in an iBook. “What if…?” The treatment for a movie began.

Here is a number Jodie Randisi faced: 0.3 percent. That is the approximate number of screenplays, of the thousands submitted every year by unknowns, that go into production and actually become movies. That doesn’t mean they are actually distributed, i.e., available to the viewing public, whether it’s on the big silver screen or a movie that goes “straight to DVD.” Poets have a better chance of getting published in The New Yorker (0.5 percent) than a screenwriter’s chance of seeing her characters in a movie.

But Randisi was determined. “We went out to the American Film Market in 2004 to figure out if we could fit into this business, to test out the waters,” she explained. Unlike a film festival, the American Film Market is the business end of independent motion picture production and distribution. Every year, 8,000 people actively involved in the film industry gather in Santa Monica, California for eight days to close production and distribution deals.

During those hectic days, Randisi attended a screenwriting seminar. One of the panelists was director Mark Rosman of Lizzie McGuire fame. “At the end of the seminar, he asked if anyone had any new material,” Randisi said, “with an emphasis on ‘new.’ So I gave him this amateur ‘one sheet’ (synopsis). His assistant later called for more material and I didn’t have it. I sent him my amateur treatment, and of course they passed. The treatment was awful. I hadn’t learned my craft yet; I was embarrassed, but I figured I had marketable material.”

So Randisi plunged forward, taking online courses for almost two years, and ended up with a professional, finished script, titled Side Bets. The story revolves around three romance-starved wives and their golf-obsessed husbands, whom Randisi calls “dimpleheads.” The location is Beckley Hall Golf Club in South Carolina. “It’s not Caddy Shack. It’s a romantic comedy featuring middle-aged adults,” Randisi said.

Since she didn’t have an agent, Randisi posted a notice about Side Bets online. “A small production company called on Thanksgiving last year. They liked the story and asked if I would like to co-produce a short to use as a marketing tool,” Randisi said. “That made a lot of sense to Joe and me.”

In June of this year, the Randisis set off for California. “We had creative meetings; we tweaked the script. They added some of their humor. It was collaborative effort, because in Hollywood, you never know it all,” Randisi said. “We had two locations, Tierra Rejada Golf Club and a bookstore—two cameras running at all times. We were working with16 pages of a mini script to capture the story of Side Bets in a condensed form and leave them (big producers) wanting more. It was really exciting,” she continued. At the end of two days of shooting, everyone was pleased with the results.

Through the summer, while the California company did post production work to complete the 18-minute short of Side Bets, Randisi’s excitement grew. Things seemed to keep falling into place. Then it happened. Hollywood got it wrong. Unfortunately, that happens all the time in Tinseltown. As an old Hollywood wag once said, “You bring Hollywood an apple, they rewrite it as an orange, and promote it as if it was a watermelon.” When Randisi received the finished short, scenes and script had been manipulated so that her romantic comedy had turned into a lowbrow farce, aimed more at a teenage audience.

Now Randisi is regrouping, considering her next move. She is still certain she has that “new material” director Mark Rosman was begging for. Randisi is still betting on Side Bets.

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