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Spree Theater with Darwin McPherson: Gail Golden’s "Give & Take"

Bonnie Jean Taylor as Ellie and Kevin Craig as her husband, Mitch in "Give & Take"

One of the advantages of having such a rich theater community is that opportunities to engage in other creative ventures often present themselves. After Gail Golden, a former fixture on the theater scene, wrote an award-winning screenplay (Official Selection-Queens International Film Festival), she decided to produce it in Western New York, featuring, of course, a wide array of local talent. Filming is now underway, but she took a few moments to tell us about the production of her movie Give & Take.

Give & Take's producers, Marc-Jon Filippone and Gail Golden


Darwin McPherson: Can you tell us a little about yourself and your involvement with the WNY theater community?
Golden: I grew up in Buffalo and attended Studio Theatre, performing with all the Buffalo greats--Bobbi Harmon, Betty Lutes DeMunn, Reggie Miles, Manny Fried, etc. I was in the first show Neal DuBrock directed here in Buffalo, Plays for Bleeker Street, at the Albright-Knox. I went away to Ithaca College for my BFA and worked as an actress in New York City (I’ve done over 1,000 commercials), and moved back to Buffalo in 1981. I lived here for the next twenty years and was very active in the theater community performing at the Irish Classical Theater Company, Kavinoky, Alleyway, and Studio Arena. My favorite production I’ve ever been in was the first BUA show, A...My Name is Alice.

Where did the idea to do Give & Take come from? What is it about?
When my youngest child went away to college in 2001, I moved to Orlando and realized a long time dream--working in entertainment at the theme parks there. I thought it would be so much fun because I had always enjoyed being a guest at the parks. Instead, it was an awful experience! When I finally left the parks, I wrote Give & Take to give myself some closure. It’s about working at theme parks. It’s also about children’s theater and little theater, both of which I’ve done a lot of in Buffalo, Cleveland, New York City, and Atlanta. Mostly, it’s about a very giving person who learns the importance of taking good care of herself.

When did you decide to make the screenplay a reality and how did you expect to make it happen?
Last October, I decided to move back to Buffalo to make the screenplay into a film. I knew this was the place. Between my contacts and friends here and the fact that people in Buffalo are generally very nice, I knew it was the right place for me to produce this indie film. You need a lot of support to produce a feature film!

Where did you find your creative collaborators?
Scott Andrew Kurchak, the director, and I have worked together for years. He was in my children’s theater company when we toured schools for Univera. Matt Nardone, the director of photography and editor, was recommended to us by a mutual friend. We head up a great team of twelve other people, including Matt’s NDstudios crew, and friends of mine who I’ve known since I went to Lindbergh Elementary School! We were in Girl Scouts together and my mom was our troupe leader!

How did you decide who would be in the film? Was it difficult?
Casting was fun and Joy Scime, our casting coordinator, did a terrific job! Joy found our leading lady, Bonnie Jean Taylor. They are in Anna Kay France’s Playback Theatre together. We had auditions over the summer and that’s where we found Guy Balotine and Kevin Craig, our leading men. Lots of the cast are actors I’ve worked with for years: including Richard Lambert, MaryKate O’Connell, Anne Gayley, Saul Elkin, Vincent O’Neill, Joe Demerly, and Tom Owen.

You just started filming this month. How has the experience been so far? Any surprises or unexpected developments?
No surprises--knock on wood! The staff, crew, and cast are all people who pitch in and work as a team. Last Sunday, we finished our shoot two hours early. That was a surprise!

I understand you have an Indiegogo campaign going on.
We’re 25% of the way to our goal of $5,000. We’re trying to raise the money to market the film after it’s produced to film festivals where it can (hopefully) get a distribution deal, so it can be seen in movie theatres across the country. There are lots of fun perks including invitations to the premiere, DVDs, visiting the set, and even having a character named after you! Please check it out.

If you don't meet the goal, are the contributions refunded? Will the film's production be endangered, since you've already started filming?
If we don’t meet the goal, we still get to keep what we've raised. Indiegogo will take a small cut, but we’ll get the money. We have enough money to shoot the film and do the post production.

When do you expect to finish Give & Take and when can the public expect to see it?
Shooting will be done in the middle of November. Then there’s editing, sound, music, etc. We plan to premiere Give & Take next September at a Dipson Theatre.

Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
We have an incredible cast of 95 local actors, representing many of the theater companies here in town. For anyone with an interest in Western New York theater and supporting the local arts scene, please check us out on Indiegogo and Facebook. Make a contribution (even $10 helps!), become a Facebook friend of Give & Take, and come on board!

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