Behind the Movie Scenes

An inside look at the work of two area screenwriters featured in the Philadelphia and Main Line film festivals.

Two area filmmakers are making it big at this year’s Philadelphia and Main Line film festivals.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel in a scene from Scott Neustadter's film, Scott Neustadter of Margate, N.J., opens the Philadelphia Film Festival/CineFest 09 on March 26 with the East Coast premiere of (500) Days of Summer. This “anti-romantic” comedy depicts the first 500 days of a relationship between a girl who doesn’t believe in love and a guy who’s a classic romantic.

“It’s totally based on something that happened to me,” says Neustadter, a University of Pennsylvania graduate. “Actually, an amalgamation of two girls.”

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Filmmaker Scott NeustadterNeustadter, who now lives in Santa Monica, Calif., used the Atlantic Ocean and the Jersey Shore to help channel his experience into this charming film. Most of the script, he says, was written on the beach in Margate.

The film stars former child actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (3rd Rock from the Sun and 10 Things I Hate About You) and the fresh-faced Zooey Deschanel (Almost Famous and The Happening). It was met with standing ovations at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

One would imagine that a screening so close to home, with family and friends around, would feel easier than Sundance. But Neustadter explains that every audience is different. “You never really know. It’s always a
crapshoot,” he says. “You put it out there, and you hope that it connects.”

A scene from Brian Troy's short film, Hoping to connect with audiences at the Main Line Film Festival on April 4 is Brian Troy, a Mount Airy native whose short, Just Be Simple, recently was added to the fest as an official selection. It features Scott Yannick as Marcus Williams, a bald, broke and unknown 40-year-old screenwriter who sets out to write the ultimate screenplay—and will succeed, if only he can get past some distractions. Surely, there’s nothing autobiographical about this …

“It’s somewhat me,” says Troy, a handsome 25-year-old with a full head of hair. It’s what happens to “a lot of other writers who find ways to procrastinate”—and who battle distractions like video games or watching other films for “inspiration.” The Drexel graduate—whose creativity is triggered by Ricky Gervais, the TV favorite The Office, and Wes Anderson—uses subtle, dry humor to tell the character’s story.

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Up next for Troy is a feature-length absurdist comedy inspired by director Harmony Korine’s Mister Lonely (2007).

Main Line Film Festival

When: April 4
Where: Clearview’s Anthony Wayne Cinema, 109 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne
Contact: (215) 485-1817,

Just Be Simple (Program 1) Screening
When: April 4, 3 p.m.
Where: Clearview’s Anthony Wayne Cinema, 109 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne
Extras: A 10-minute Q&A session following the film
Tickets: (215) 485-1817,

Philadelphia Film Festival/CineFest 09

When: March 26-April 6
Where: Various locations
Contact: (267) 765-9800,

(500) Days of Summer Screening
When: March 26, 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Where: Prince Music Theater, 1412 Chestnut St., Philadelphia
Extras: A Q&A session with Scott Neustadter and director Marc Webb follows each screening.
Tickets: (267) 765-9800,

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Opening Night Party
When: March 26, 10 p.m.
Where: Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue, 200 S. Broad St., Philadelphia
Information: (267) 765-9800,

Our Best of the Main Line Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!