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“A Mother’s Search For The Perfect Son-In-Law, For Her Son”
 
A mother’s greatest fear is that her child will grow up unprotected and unloved.  In the new farce “You Should Meet My Son!,” available on DVD, a meddling mom doesn’t stop her hobby of fixing up her son just because she discovers he’s gay.  She just changes the gender of her recruits.

I sat down with the director, Keith Hartman, and his two bubbly stars, Joanne McGee and Carol Goans, two women who met on the shoot but are so compatible; they appear to actually BE the sisters they play on film.  In the movie, McGee’s character is a type-A personality, vivacious and loquacious.  Goans plays more of a wallflower who awakens her wild streak after meeting a group of drag queens.  Meeting them, their personalities are a merging of personas and character dynamics. 

“You put them together and they’re dynamite,” Hartman says.  “Nowhere in the script was there anything about rivalry.  I just didn’t see it until they brought it into the characters.”

The two women didn’t meet until the first read-through.  Before McGee showed up, “I would buy those Southern dialect tapes. There are like 500 accents and NONE of them sound like Goans (who unlike New English McGee, did grow up in the south).  I went over to her house with my recorder and begged, ‘tell me stories’ and Goans would tell me about Aunt [so-and-so] and I would play those tapes over and over in the car during my drive to rehearsals.  She’d say a sentence on the tape, and I’d repeat it several times.

“We didn’t get together that much,” McGee continued. “We’d just run lines and work on dialect.  Most of the bits were on the fly.  It was fast thinking, not like we had this big session to work this all out.  [It was obvious] we were definitely connecting.”

“You remind me of the old Lucy episodes,” Hartman said. “I put a camera in front you and crazy things just happen.” 

McGee chimes in, “We were laughing so much at one point, I know we ruined someone’s take.”

“One of the reviewers compared you to Lucy and Ethel,” Hartman said.

“Lucy and Ethel meets Will And Grace,” McGee added.

“Silly as [Lucy and Ethel] were, you always believed that they were doing everything for a reason,” Hartman said. “You have to believe that even if ‘I’ wouldn’t do this, that these women would [believably do so].”

“In farce, as crazy as it seems, you have to play the reality.  You have to [give the appearance] that you’re doing [these actions] for the first time,” McGee said.

The actresses had nothing but praise for their director and thanked him for giving them a chance, when a producer would have concentrated on a NAME actor.  “It’s rare that a director these days takes a chance on [untried] talent.  Many people don’t have the right agent or the right power behind it,” McGee said.

But for Hartman, using unfamiliar performers was natural, not financial necessity.  “I like films that have unknown actors,” he said.  “When Tom Cruise walks into a role you know exactly what the film is going to be.  I like a new face because I don’t know what to expect and I can’t wait to find out.”

Working on an independent film has its limitations as the director and leads discovered.
 
“Every time I left the set,” Goans said, “I thought, ‘why didn’t I try this.’  With film it’s done.  You can’t make any changes.  With theater, you rehearse and if maybe something doesn’t go right, you have an opportunity to try new things on a different night.

“I would love to have taken a month to rehearse and try new things,” Hartman admitted.  “But you don’t have that chance on a low budget film.”

“We had two solid days of filming the [same batch of] pork chops,” Hartman said. 

“The caterer was amazing, Goans added, “but he was color blind.  He can’t really tell when the meat was cooked so I had to grab a marker and started coloring them in [a more healthy color].”

McGee continued the stream of consciousness,  “[After two days of shooting], we tossed everything because it had gotten rancid and we thought we were done with the shoot.  Then we realized we needed a pick-up shot with a spoon of rice, so Goans is digging through the garbage to get the rice.”

[Being a Southerner, I knew that] we had to have ambrosia,” Goans said.  “I gave the caterer ingredients such as mandarin oranges and marshmallows.  We had it on the table for two days and it began attracting flies. So we sprayed it with bug spray.  [Later in the day, one of the other actors] took a cherry to eat and everyone’s panicking, ‘don’t eat that, don’t eat that.’”

“We were afraid we’d have to call poison control,” Hartman said with a laugh.

Despite the constraints, including having crew substitute for extras and dealing with unreasonable requests for locations, “You Should Meet My Son!” has become a critical and festival darling, including awards at Gay and Lesbian festivals in Ontario, North Caroline, Memphis and Tenerife. The DVD has been ranking in the upper-end of the Top 10 at both Amazon.com and TLA’s ordering sites.  To buy DVDs, go to the following link:  http://www.amazon.com/You-Should-Meet-My-Son/dp/B004XKUFY4/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1306964432&sr=1-1

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