Alumni team produce debut film from small budget and big dreams; set to show at SF State in October

“One Man Show” tells the story of a hopeful playwright’s dream gone wrong — a story an SF State alumni turned into their debut film with a small budget and a devoted team.

Director Matthew Cassani and Assistant Director Sterling Cook are graduates of the cinema department and along with other cast and crew members, brainstormed for over two years on their film, which developed from a thought Cassani’s friend Cody Rich had joked about.

“Wouldn’t it be funny if someone lived on a stage and people thought it was a play, not like him just getting his life together?” Cassani said regarding Rich’s idea for the film.  Together Cassani and co-writer Tim Belding put the pen to paper and began to formulate their film.

Characters Henry (Daniel Thibodeaux) and Laura (Kaitlin Clancey) get confrontational after a minor car accident in "One Man Show," filmed by alum Jonathan Salazar. Matthew Cassani / Special to Xpress.

Characters Henry (Daniel Thibodeaux) and Laura (Kaitlin Clancey) get confrontational after a minor car accident in “One Man Show.” Matthew Cassani / Special to Xpress.

The script for “One Man Show” tells the tale of Henry Richards, a man who dreamed of becoming a playwright. Richards life plan didn’t go as expected, but “One Man Show” accurately highlights the vitality of the art world. The film debuted at Tiburon Playhouse in Marin County Aug. 31 and received a standing ovation from the audience. Cassani said he plans to show the film at SF State’s Coppola Theatre in October.

With 12-hour days, while balancing difficult schedules and a complicated budget, the team took four years to turn the initial idea into a finished project. The filming itself was completed in a mere seven days, and Cassani received almost $3,000 from an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to help complete his vision.

“In retrospect, we probably could’ve used a lot more (funding),” he said with a laugh.

Along with the low budget, the film was composed of a cast and crew that virtually worked for free. The main actors were mutual friends of Cassani and Cook and had very little acting background, but during their on-screen appearance in August they startled the crowd with their raw talent.

Sandra Blevins, an Ohlone College graduate, plays Courtney and said she was honored to star in the film. “I jumped on the opportunity to meet him (Cassani) and asked if he would even consider me for a role,” Blevins said. “Much to my surprise, he did!”

Another actor, Daniel Thibodeaux, is a UC Santa Cruz literature graduate and plays the title character, Henry Richards. Thibodeaux recalls the last day of filming and the urgency of finding enough extras, which is a struggle for low budget films in where actors work for free.

“(I was) with my co-star Sandra and she (was) still in a wedding dress from an earlier scene we shot, and luckily a tour group of incoming freshman and their families came by who (were) delighted at the chance to be in a film,” Thibodeaux said. “Within the hour she had rounded up the whole group and a few more so we’d have enough to shoot the scene.”

Cook acts in the film in addition to his work as  the assistant director.  He said his passion for cinema began at a young age, but credits his knowledge of the field to SF State. Cook has worked on more than 15 creative films and several commercials since he attended the University and has acted, assistant directed, produced, executive produced and other completed the tasks of many other positions.

Cassani has entered the film into six different festivals, including: Sundance Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival, LA Underground, Chicago Underground, Zero Film Festival in New York and Ann Arbor Film Festival.

Cook said he hopes the film will go even further than where it is now and looks forward to developing more ideas like “One Man Show,” which will play on the big screen at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28 in Coppola Theatre at SF State.

“I want to see this film, really, in all honesty, to be a springboard for future projects,” Cook said.

Latest comments
  • Thanks for the kind words Hannah!
    And the thought of it being a funny idea was actually from Cody Rich. Tim and I were just the ones who explored it and wrote the script.

    • Hey Matt! Made the change and put credit where credit is due. Great work.