If you’ve only got five minutes to spare this film-festival season, check out Shaun Greenspan’s “The Break Up.”
It’s adorable. Light. Quirky. It’s got a catchy three-song soundtrack and a feel-good ending. It’s about a 9-year-old boy who breaks up with his girlfriend at a pizza parlor.
And, yes, it’s all of four minutes and 55 seconds long.
If it’s possible for a filmmaker to showcase his cinematic chops in such a brief window of time, Greenspan manages to do it with this short film, which will premiere next month at the Sarasota Film Festival.
The 32-year-old filmmaker, who moved with his family in 1992 to Sarasota, based the movie on his own childhood dating experience.
Like the movie’s charming protagonist, Greenspan took his first date to a pizza shop in the small Connecticut town he lived in until he was 13 years old.
He was in third grade. The girl’s name was Cori. He begged his dad — Sarasota dentist Dr. Richard Greenspan — to take him. His father agreed, but on one condition: He would have to chaperone.
“I barely remember it,” Greenspan says. “But I do know halfway through I asked my father to cut my pizza. When we drove home that night he told me I should probably wait to go out with girls until I can cut my own food.”
It seems Greenspan was always in a hurry to grow up.
He dropped out of Riverview High School his senior year and at the urging of his parents got his GED in 1997.
Shortly thereafter, he moved to Boston, where he admits he partied too hard and spent way too much money.
“I rebelled probably because I had things so nice,” Greenspan says. “I realize it now, that I was just stubborn. My father used to say, ‘If you put half as much energy into staying on track as you do getting off track, there’s nothing you won’t accomplish.’”
Greenspan took those words to heart.
He moved back into his parents’ quiet bayfront home, enrolled in Manatee Community College and at 22 transferred to Columbia College Hollywood, a Los Angeles-based film school.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life until I took my first film class at MCC,” Greenspan says. “I realized I liked connecting with people. I like telling good stories, and I like working hands-on on an artistic project. It’s something that’ll never get old that I can do for the rest of my life.”
Greenspan received his film degree in 2003. Since then he’s worked as a production assistant on “Six Feet Under,” “Nip/Tuck,” “Mad Men,” “True Blood,” “Big Love” and the films, “Little Miss Sunshine and “Where the Wild Things Are.”
In 2005, he co-founded Triforce Pictures with fellow film school graduate Edward James.
The company, which specializes in producing cost-effective content for films, music video and commercials, has netted an impressive client list, including rapper Snoop Dogg.
After 10 years away from home, Greenspan says it only made sense to premiere “The Break Up” in Sarasota, while surrounded by family and friends.
“It’s a well-received film fest,” he says. “And I really wanted to make my parents proud.”
IF YOU GO
Shaun Greenspan’s “The Break Up” will screen at noon Friday, April 15 and at 7 pm. Sunday, April 17, at Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20, in downtown Sarasota. The Sarasota Film Festival runs April 7 to April 17. For more information on “The Break Up,” visit www.triforcepictures.com. For tickets to the festival, call 366-6200 or visit www.sarasotafilm-festival.com.
Contact Heidi Kurpiela at firstname.lastname@example.org