Festival premieres short films and celebrates literature created in Upstate South Carolina

The Expecting Goodness Short Film Festival, launched on January 11, 2012, has provided opportunities for building a film community between amateurs and professionals in the Upstate South Carolina region. Through community gatherings, workshops, lectures, and the March 24th concluding film festival during which the completed films will be screened and awarded prizes, the project's mission is to generate enthusiasm for film, educate the community on numerous aspects of the industry, and celebrate the literature and film of our great region. 

Seven Upstate filmmakers have each chosen a story from the short story collection Expecting Goodness (Hub City Press, 2009) featuring 20 Spartanburg writers, used that story as inspiration for a short film, and shot that film locally starring local actors. 

Expecting Goodness is a collection of twenty Southern short stories by both established and up-and-coming authors who remarkably share the same hometown of Spartanburg, SC. The collection, edited by long-time fiction editor of The Atlantic magazine C. Michael Curtis, is the inspiration for the film festival, the first of its kind in Spartanburg.

We're highlighting Abe Duenas, one of the seven filmmakers in today's feature article courtesy of HubCulture, Inc., a nonprofit with a mission to build community in downtown Spartanburg and across the southeast through dynamic art and ideas. Abe is the filmmaker of Kathryn Brackett's "Girl Talk" (retitled The Widower's Pearls). He has written and directed 10 short films and many more commercials. Abe has recently made his mark in South Carolina, receiving a grant from the SC film Commission to produce his film "The Lot" in 2011. 

On "The Widower's Pearls" by Abe Duenas


The Widower's Pearls is my adaptation of Kathryn A. Brackett's short story "Girl Talk." After noticing this film festival was going to be based on adapting short stories to screen, I jumped at the opportunity to apply. I can only imagine what the authors wondered after agreeing to be part of this project - what will happen to my story, will it be what I wrote, or something inspired by my work? Well, I chose to stay as close to the story as possible, because to me, that is what an adaptation is. That being said, the first thing people may notice is the title change (something that makes me look like a complete hypocrite after the previous statement). I chose to change the title because I want the audience to know going into this film what situation this father finds himself in. With this being a short film, it's a huge bonus to have the audience clued in on who the characters are from the start. I mean, what kind of person does not feel immediate empathy when they hear the word widower?

After reading it, I immediately knew I would be heartbroken if another filmmaker chose it. Thankfully, I had the opportunity of adapting a story about a widower who burns supper and has to take his three daughters, all with their own unique issues that night, out to a too familiar diner one evening. Although the majority of people today are not widowers or widows, people will be able to relate to the characters and imagine what they may be feeling, because everyone understands the concept of grief, pain and loss. The film has both comedy and drama, basically a dramedy.

We filmed this in the historic Capri Theatre and the 80-year-old Harold's Restaurant, which has been featured on Guy Fieri's show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives from the Food Network. The cast assembled features Elijah Chester, portraying Alan, the father of 12-year-old Katie (Madison Nolte), 9-year-old Megan (Olivia Chester), and 5-year-old Jilly (Zoe Clarke). We spent two days filming and had a great time working on the project. I want to thank my whole crew for the fantastic dedication they have shown on this project. Their passion is proof that if you work on what you love, then it isn't really work.