Alumni’s feature film leads to festivals and careers
When the curtain goes up at the 2019 Fort Myers Beach Film Festival April 24-28, Palm Beach State College alumni Kat and Josh Brady and Shelby Halberg will be in the audience. They will be on hand to answer questions after the screening of their film, “The Big Frozen Gumshoe,” a feature-length comedy that Kat Brady directed, Josh Brady produced, and Halberg shot.
The film, which had its debut at the Orlando Film Festival in October 2018, has been a labor of love for the team since they graduated with Associate in Science degrees in Motion Picture Production Technology in December 2014. Just prior to graduation, the script, co-written by Kat and Josh Brady, was selected as the winner of PBSC’s Student Feature Film Initiative, in which the College provided film equipment and mentoring to develop a feature film to compete in the festival marketplace and hopefully earn distribution.
“For independent films like ours, with pretty much no money, no professional names or stars attached, it’s hard to get noticed,” Kat Brady said. “The fact that a bunch of PBSC film students could successfully write and plan an 80-page script, go out and film it for 26 days across two months, then spend three years in post-production until it’s finally finished, is a massive accomplishment in and of itself. Having the film get accepted into film festivals is just the icing on the cake.”
Indeed, it took dedication and smarts to get to this point. While the PBSC equipment spared a large expense, the team needed to cover production costs like insurance, props, costumes and meals. They launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that successfully raised $6,080 to cover these expenses. Out of 41 cast and crew members, 17 were PBSC film students or recent graduates, but everyone involved volunteered their talents to help make the film a reality.
“The experience was worth more than money,” Halberg said. “We had just graduated film school, and we were going to make our own feature-length movie, which is kind of rare. It was a huge learning experience and definitely a great start.”
The film did jump-start the trio’s careers. Kat Brady now works for PBSC’s film department as a specialist who creates course videos and provides tutorial support for students. Halberg has his own video production company, Blank Frame Films, in Delray Beach. As the director of photography for “The Big Frozen Gumshoe,” he was able to add a feature film to his résumé, and the experience boosted his confidence in his first job as a production assistant for the 2017 Academy Award-winning film “Moonlight.” The same was true for Josh Brady, who got noticed for having a feature film, among other projects, under his belt. He’s now a freelance production coordinator, racking up credits on movies and television shows like Nickelodeon’s “I Am Frankie.”
“Fortunately, we were able to meet and put our collective minds together to produce this film,” Josh Brady said. “Just having a real film to put on a résumé, to say that we did this, we accomplished it, and we were capable of it – it gave all of us a huge leg up, not just for this film, but for the scope of our whole careers.”
Filmed across Palm Beach County, including the Lake Worth campus, “The Big Frozen Gumshoe” is a ‘man out of his time’ comedy, in which a 1940s private eye, who had been diabolically frozen just as he was about to crack a case, defrosts to find himself in today’s world of computers and smartphones. Undaunted by the challenges of this new environment, he continues his hapless pursuit of the now very cold case. Gregg Goldsbury, who trained at the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theatre, plays Detective Dick. Think “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?,” “Austin Powers” and “Dumb and Dumber.”
Kat and Josh Brady, who met in the PBSC film program and are now married, co-authored the script in eight days in 2014 and perfected it as they spent five months working with Halberg to plan every detail of the production.
Filming got underway on May 15, 2015, and continued three days a week, so cast and crew could juggle school and jobs. After production wrapped on July 10, Kat Brady switched hats and started editing and coordinating post-production, again with the volunteer help of PBSC alumni and students. Finally, after editing, sound design and mixing, color grading, visual effects, and original music, the team officially completed the film in June 2018.
“Making movies is such a collaborative process,” she said. “Every single person involved with the making of the film made it what it is today. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to spend days, weeks, months and, for some, years with to complete the movie.”
While students tackle short film projects throughout their time in PBSC’s hands-on programs and gain experience in internships, the Student Feature Film Initiative gave them the opportunity to develop their skills in the real world and garner professional credits for their efforts.
“Kat and her team presented the most feasible and prepared project for consideration,” said Professor Michael Seminerio, who was also department chair at the time and served as an advisor during the film’s production. “She and her team were students that took on roles of leadership within the department very easily and very well. They carried themselves professionally from their earliest classes and that continued on through this endeavor.”
PBSC gave the team not only a foundation, but also friendships and a network.
“One of the greatest benefits of film school was making connections,” Kat Brady said. “You have to be a team player to work on a film crew and that’s a big part of this learning environment. It’s about learning the industry standard equipment and techniques, but it’s also about building relationships and leadership qualities, so that when you graduate you can go out and direct a film, start your own business, or work effectively as a crew member.”
Many of the film’s PBSC crew and cast members also have gone on to careers in the industry. First assistant camera David De Souza has worked on projects such as Paramount’s “Baywatch” and Netflix’s “Stranger Things.” Second assistant camera David Albahae has worked in the production office for FX’s “American Crime Story” and feature films for the A24 studio as well as series for Nickelodeon and Amazon. Sound recordist Devin Ryan works as a freelance sound mixer and boom operator for commercials and films, such as the Lifetime Original movie “Boyfriend Killer.” Gavin Winnett, electrician and colorist, worked in the camera department on Nickelodeon’s “I Am Frankie” and now works as a freelance assistant camera on films and commercials. And Braden Bullard, who plays Kid, has recently completed another feature film, “The Awakening.”
Cast and crew are still close, helping—and hiring—each other as much as possible.
“In this industry, it’s a lot about who you know, and we all know each other,” Josh Brady said. “So anytime one of us is on a project, they are the first people we want to bring in. It’s an ecosystem for all of us to be able to work and succeed in the industry.”
Currently “The Big Frozen Gumshoe” awaits acceptance at more festivals and will be available on streaming services after its festival run.