Maryland professor eyes festival berth with feature film

By Adam Barry

Each year, film festivals like Sundance collect the various productions from big studios all the way down to independent features, and this year one university professor hopes his homegrown movie will get some recognition.

Adam Nixon, a lecturer in the communication department, spent the last four years working on Aspirin for the Masses, a “romantic comedy with no romantic spirit,” according to its IMDB page.

Nixon, who teaches digital filmmaking and screenwriting at this university, produced, directed, wrote and acted in the film.

Nixon spent last year working in the university’s performance studies department and holds a master’s degree in cinema studies from NYU as well as a MFA in playwriting and directing form Virginia Commonwealth University.

The cast lines up with Maryland professor Adam Nixon, third from the right. Photo by Adam Barry.

The cast lines up with Maryland professor Adam Nixon, third from the right. Photo by Adam Barry.

Before coming to this university, Nixon worked on producing and directing television programs, mostly political talk shows and short documentary. Self-financed and created with a volunteer cast and crew from the Washington area, this movie marks Nixon’s first feature film.

Nixon hosted a pre-screening of a rough cut of the movie at this university earlier this month before sending the film to any festivals.

The crowd of around 30 people included university students as well as members of the cast and crew and their families. After the screening, viewers participated in a Q-and-A session with the cast and crew.

Local actors Laura Blasi and Artie Gibb star as Joni and Kraig, a couple dealing with Joni’s pregnancy that complicates their already failing relationship.

Along with Joni and Kraig’s lack of fidelity, interactions with their eccentric families, bisexual movers and a crooked pharmacy student add strain before the baby is born.

The film touches on the dementia and mental illness present in Joni’s family, and her father, played by Anthony Hacsi, is a prominent character in the film as well.

Nixon estimated that the volunteer cast and crew spent around 200 Saturdays and Sundays over the past four years making the film. Actors and crewmembers even offered their own homes as filming locations for the movie.

He called the conditions surrounding his “no-budget feature” a “burden and a blessing,” citing the many risks involved in making your own film, but giving much credit to his cast and crew for their work.

The screenplay for the film made it to the final rounds of selection for the Sundance Screenwriting Competition and won the honors of being an official selection at the Beverly Hills Film Festival, Los Angeles Film and Script Festival and Mountain Film Festival.

The admittedly low-budget nature and bizarre characters made the film unusual to some viewers at first, but kept them engaged over the course of the viewing.

“It took me a while to get used to the format, but by the ending I was really into it,” said freshman Brendan Lawler.

A recently funded Kickstarter will help Nixon enter the final film in various festivals over the coming year.

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