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A poster designed for "A Short History of Decay" shows Longboat Key's shoreline. Designed by Kerry Durkin.
Longboat Key Wednesday, Jun. 20, 2012 5 years ago

Film could put spotlight on Key

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by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

Bob and Sandy Fisher live in a condominium on Longboat Key.

Their son, Nathan, is a Brooklyn, N.Y., hipster/writer with no “real” job whose girlfriend, who works as a paralegal but has just written a book, dumped him. He ventured to the Key to be with his parents.

They may sound like your next-door neighbors, but the Fishers don’t live in your condominium.

They’re characters in the independent film, “A Short History of Decay,” that is both set on and will most likely be filmed on the Key.

According to Michael Maren, who wrote and is directing the film, Nathan Fisher gets a call early on in the film that his father has had a stroke. His mother, in the meantime, is stricken with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. As a result, his mother is physically, but not mentally, healthy while his father is mentally sharp, but faces physical limitations.

“For him, it’s a learning process,” Maren said. “It’s a middle-age, coming-of-age story.”

“It’s a very warm, funny, family dramedy,” said Jeanne Corcoran, director of the Sarasota County Film & Entertainment Office, who estimated that the office has been working with producers for approximately six months to scout locations.

The idea came to Maren in early 2011 when he was visiting his parents, Bill and Bunny Maren, who have visited Beachplace for the past 10 years. After they had gone to bed one night, he let his imagination wander about what it would be like to live with his parents again. He started on the script that night.

The project is Maren’s first feature film. He is a former journalist who has written for The Village Voice, Newsweek, The Nation, The New Republic, Harper’s, GQ and The New York Times magazine and has spent the last decade as a screenwriter.

In recent months, he and the others involved with the project have scouted locations on the Key and throughout the Sarasota area. They considered Beachplace for the Fishers’ condominium but found that the units weren’t large enough for all of the camera equipment. They’ve since looked at condominiums with larger units, including The Player’s Club.

Maren originally hoped to film over the summer; his production team held a teleconference with town officials in May. Recently, however, an investor pulled out, and filming has been postponed. Instead, he hopes to begin filming in September if the project obtains the funding it needs to move forward.

The movie has a budget of just $2 million but has attracted commitments from a noteworthy cast, including Robert Forster, who received an Academy Award nomination for his role in the 1997 film “Jackie Brown”; Jacki Weaver, who also was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the 2010 film “Animal Kingdom”; Johnny Galecki, of CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory”; Kelli Garner, of the recent ABC series “Pan Am”; and America Ferrera, of the former ABC series, “Ugly Betty.”

Maren described the actors’ commitment to the project as “high,” however, with filming pushed back, he will have to determine whether their schedules will allow them to participate after a start date is determined.

According to Corcoran, Longboat Key has recently generated attention from other filmmakers. Currently, producers of both a musical and drama have expressed interest in filming on the Key, although a confidentiality agreement prohibits her from discussing either project.

This project would be shot entirely on private property in an “under-the-radar” way, according to Corcoran.

“A Short History of Decay” is unique, however, in that Longboat Key is written into the script. It would feature several local businesses and attractions by name, including Old Salty Dog or New Pass Grill & Bait Shop and Mote Marine Aquarium.

(Maren also was hoping to shoot a grocery-store scene inside Longboat Key’s Publix until he found out it was temporarily closed.)

Maren originally hoped to shoot the film in time for the Sundance Film Festival in January. Instead, he hopes to be able to show the film at the Sarasota Film Festival to generate buzz before releasing it.

According to Maren, although the film has a strong independent feel, it also has a sentimental ending.
Nathan, the lead character starts out with an impression about Florida and its large population of senior citizens. But, he comes to a new understanding of his parents and their lives at the end.

“This film is designed, in a way, to be a love letter to the Sarasota and Longboat Key area,” he said.

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