A comedy named Father vs. Son took home the first ever prize for Best World Premiere Film at the 43rd WorldFest - Houston Independent International Film Festival this weekend. Awarded by the Houston Film Critics Society in conjunction with WorldFest, the honor is an auspicious start for Father, which is director Joe Ballarini's first feature film. Father also marked a first for Paul Wolff, who co-wrote the screenplay; this is his first lead role in a film. Houstonian Michael Huffington was the producer for Father vs. Son (or as Ballarini calls him, "the angel, the greatest guy in the world).
Father vs. Son is about an eccentric newly divorced father and buttoned down single son who fall in love with the same woman, a woman who just happens to be a stripper (kinda). Hair Balls spoke with director Ballarini and Paul Wolff, and here's what they had to say.
Hair Balls: What sparked the idea for this movie?
Joe Ballarini: I would tell Paul about my dating problems and he would tell me about his dating problems. We began to find painful similarities between dating at 30 and dating at 60. The ages are different but it's all the same trials and tribulations
HB: So Paul had originally come on to the project as a co-writer but somehow ended up as the lead. How did that happen?
Paul Wolff: Joe came to me and said, "I want to write a comedy about a father and son who fall in love with the same girl." And I said, "Great." We finished the script and then we sat on it for a while because of the writers' strike. Then one day Joe called me and said, "Michael Huffington, the angel, the greatest guy in the world, is going to let us make our movie." I was so elated, but then he dropped a bomb on me and said, "And you're going to play the father."
JB: Paul and I wrote it over a period of three months, and we'd read the characters out loud and I think after a while I had the voice of the father as Paul in my ear. We'd read it and he'd just hit it, he'd hit all the notes. He'd done some acting before but nothing on a scale like this, but I knew that he could pull it off. He's charismatic, with a great laugh and he has a lot of chutzpah and he pulled it off brilliantly. I can't imagine anyone else in that role.
HB: Josh Dean stars as the son in the film and Heather Stephens as the stripper that the father and son both fall for.
JB: But she's not a stripper! It's her first night and she starts to go onstage and then backs out. She becomes a veterinarian-in-training.
HB: That's the moment when every guy would love to meet his girlfriend - just as she's about to become a stripper, but before she actually does anything.
JB: But she's moral, (laughs) so she doesn't do it.
HB: Changing gears here, how important is success on the festival circuit? What can a win here at WorldFest do for a film?
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JB: I think a festival like WorldFest plays a huge part in the success of any movie because that's where the crowds that love movies are. The people who want a new experience are going to find it at a festival. It's kind of like watching a comedian on television and a comedian live, the laughter is infectious. And going to a film festival is like that, it's an event. Festivals like WorldFest are able to bring to life that experience.
PW: From the beginning Joe wanted to do what I thought was a very brave thing, which was to make a mass appeal, big audience comedy but do it independently. So a festival like WorldFest is very important to us because [while] we like independent quirky comedies, that isn't what we set out to do.
JB: Right, we wanted to make a crowd-pleasing, feel good, make you laugh for two hours, forget the woes of the world around us movie.
For more information about Father vs. Son, visit www.fathervssonmovie.com.