Come with me – to Florida – so we can be flies on the wall and watch Speed Dating.
Sometimes, I want to just do something or watch something for fun. Sometimes, something funny comes my way. I love interpretations of real-life situations, on screen, or stage, that make me relate and laugh. When someone really experiences something, and then writes about it, and translates it to stage or film, the genuine emotion comes through. In this case, the emotions are humor and sarcasm. And this is why I invested eleven minutes of my time and watched Speed Dating, written and produced by Stefanie Davis, and directed by Cindy Krapfel.
Just like the concept of a dating many men in moments, Speed Dating is a short film, which relates, from a woman’s point of view, what meeting several men in a few minutes is like – or could be like. The characters are representative of people we’ve all met – men and women – in some way, shape or form.
Speed Dating is like watching a Walmart crowd while sitting on a nearby park bench in a prospective want to hook-up scenario, except with wine – gallons of wine. It’s the kind of original comedic movie you don’t have to think about and doesn’t require total mind engagement to be able grab onto the over-exaggerated good which gives you a preview into a web series being modeled after it.
You see, after a desperate plea from her mother to change her single ways, Brooke Bellantoni (Lexi Balestrieri) enlists herself in speed dating. She drags her best friend, Traci Norton (Chelsea Wolf), along for the ride. As they go through the bachelors of the Tampa, Florida area, the girls realize the dating life isn't what it used to be. (After watching this – I must admit – I’m really wondering about the bachelors representative of the Tampa Bay area…)
I, myself, have never done speed dating; but I think the concept has merit, which is probably a good indication of my naïveté. First impressions say a lot; and I think, if you always go with your gut feeling, that usually leads to the best possible outcome. (One can hope!)
I would coin this film as a peek into an adult version of spin the bottle, except on the dating level where a touch of non-musical chairs is integrated, and the bottles in question - are filled with wine. Lots of wine.
The leading ladies Brooke and Traci (disguised with name tags bearing the names of warrior women, Leia and Xena, just in case a prospective stalker is encountered), portray the desperate to get-this-over-with BFF’s on a forced mission to find men. They give it an honest try, but after their first encounters with the gentlemen on table rotation, you can see why Brooke’s plea of “Wine. Please… Now!” is completely called for.
Oh, and just so you gents don’t feel like the deck is stacked against you, the female dating prospects featured will definitely make anyone do a double-take, as well.
I must give kudos to supporting actor Nathan Taubert cast as the flamboyant patchouli-esque Tree. Tree is just fabulous as his peace and love portrayal of someone who really believes that his job as the event coordinator for the evening will provide singles with the opportunity to meet their life mates. And David E. McMahon is an authentic version of the eccentric Will, who, let’s just say is a true “Tree lover”, and I feel portrays the funniest feminine character in this film right down to his pink portable sippy cup.
Speed Dating is full of quick quips in dialogue like “Have you seen these bachelors in this circus?” (as a man dressed in a clown suit (Ken Anthony II) walks by, and I appreciated the literal “wink” to the independent film industry, with a clever nod during a dating scene.
While you may think that speed dating is for the college and post-graduate crowd, that myth is debunked within the first few frames of the film.
And, within the first minute of watching, I learned a lot – apparently many are very skeptical about speed dating, and scared enough, like the characters Brooke and Traci, to comply with the unwritten rules 1) never go it alone, and 2) never give your real name.
The first impression fashion choices of those about to meet up with prospective mates definitely will get your attention.
I wondered how the writer knew so much about speed dating in order to write a plausible screenplay with humor injected so brilliantly, so I asked.
"My production partners, Chelsea Wolf and Lexi Balestrieri, encouraged me to bring the best characters to life. We decided to use Speed Dating as a preview to our web series, "Relation Shipwreck." [I love the play on words – Relationship / Shipwreck] Many of the stories are based on our own experiences or observations from others' stories,” shares Davis.
In my experience, the films (books, performances, etc.) that are the most memorable, are those which are based upon real-life experiences. Speed Dating affirms that belief.
Krapfel, an emerging female director in the Tampa, Florida area, spearheads Bouncy Boxer Media’s strife for offering more opportunities to women directors in their productions. Lexi Balstrieri (cast as Brooke in this film) is slated to direct their next project, and Davis, herself, will direct a super short film, as well.
Speed Dating was just accepted into the Gasparilla International Film Festival. It screens Friday, April 1st as part of the Short Films LOL block from 5-6:30pm EST. It’s second in the line-up. If you’re in town you can see it at Muvico Centro Ybor 10, 1600 East 8th Ave., Tampa, FL 33605, and be sure to get your tickets here. While you can watch this on your iPhone, computer, or device of choosing, there’s definitely something to be said for watching it on the big screen, so go!
The comedy has also screened at ManaSota Films on October 21, 2015 in Sarasota as part of their monthly local screenings. It also screened at the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival on December 6, 2015 during the final Comedy Block. It has not won awards yet, but the cast and crew are hopeful this year it will get more festival laurels and some awards.
“The performances we got were top notch and absolutely hilarious,” notes the writer, Davis.
Released by Bouncy Boxer Media, the name of the company is just as interesting as the characters in the film.
“I have a five year old boxer, and she’s so excited for every new experience,” shares Stefanie Davis. “Each film we make is so every person watching has the same feeling [as her] – she bounces with excitement. This is why we make comedy films.”
Lessons learned: If you try speed dating, be sure to drink the value of your admission fee at the very least to make sure you get your money’s worth in case your potential suitors don’t measure up. And a safer option, participate in THIS kind of Speed Dating, right from the comfort of your own home, for a virtual glimpse into a parody right here:
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Bouncy Boxer Media is also starting to add their short films to an international VOD platform called IndieHomeTV – right here
And if you want to find out more about the Director of Photography, Rob Coggin, you can find him here on Facebook. Rob currently has a feature called Provenance being filmed and Lexi Balestrieri is directing.