Locally produced short film hopes to generate widespread attention.
On the scene of his new short film, “Bedsheet Man,” Heritage Harbour’s Ryan Bodie watched as it became time for lights, camera and action.
Only the lights were out.
Bodie had shown up at a convenience store in St. Petersburg in September with a crew that included 17 actors in makeup. It was 9:30 p.m. and all the arrangements had been made to film at the site.
The store, however, was closed.
Since he entered the film and video world after graduating from the film program at State College of Florida — then known as Manatee Community College — in 2000, Bodie has become adept at improvising. He said making independent films is all about “making the best of a bad situation.”
This was pretty bad, until Bodie looked across the street and saw a 24-hour gas station.
“We went inside and asked the owner if we could shoot the scene, and he finally agreed,” Bodie said.
Unfortunately, the script called for the protagonist to perform a heroic deed as someone was being robbed at an ATM. While the convenience store had an ATM, the gas station didn’t.
The script quickly was rewritten. The show went on with the gas station’s customers walking past the set in bewilderment.
Bodie said, inevitably, he was able to tell the story in a more powerful way than he originally had planned.
“Those are the kind of moments you live for,” he said.
Bodie, 41, has lived for many of those moments over his 17-year career in film and video production. “Bedsheet Man” is just the latest project produced by his company, Ryan Bodie Films, and was filmed during a four-day period with scenes shot in Bradenton, Palmetto and St. Petersburg.
The story revolves around a common, middle-aged dad, Phillip, whose son, Aden, commits suicide by hanging himself. After Aden’s suicide, Phillip reflects on the times he would read to his son.
“They had these father-son moments before bedtime,” said Bodie, whose co-producer, David Leo Shultz of Los Angeles, wrote the story and starred in the lead role. “Phillip would become a superhero and take the bedsheet from Aden’s bunk bed and tie it around his neck. Aden was his sidekick.”
Through his grief, Phillip decided he would become a superhero in real life.
“Grief became his super power,” Bodie said. “After his son died, he goes around town, and if there are people who need help, he would help them. That might mean stopping people from snatching a purse or stopping a gas station from being robbed.”
“Bedsheet Man” is a short film, about 10 minutes, but could become a full-length feature if the short garners attention. For now, Bodie hopes to earn an award at the Francis Coppola Director’s Short Film Competition. The five finalists go to the Sundance Film Festival in January in Park City, Utah.
He believes “Bedsheet Man” has a good shot because the story “spoke to him.”
Being a father of three — Emma, Ethan and Elle Bodie — the story hit him hard.
“As a father, I always wonder if I’m good enough, uplifting enough, raising my kids in a proper environment and asking myself how I can be better,” Bodie said. “This story was about a father who wasn’t there enough because he put everything else first.”
Bodie wants to be there for his children and his community. When he films his projects, he often uses local talent.
For “Bedsheet Man,” Bodie recruited Myakka City’s Emmanuel Kurtz, 8, and Elias Kurtz, 14, to play roles. Elias played the role of Aden, who hung himself at the beginning at the film. Elias said despite the darkness of his role, he tried to enjoy his opportunity.
“During the hanging scene I had to put on a whole bunch of makeup,” Elias said. “It was cool. They used an airbrush and made vein lines and stuff. People have always told me I should be an actor.”
Emmanuel played the role of Cody, one of Phillip’s neighbors.
“It was really fun,” Emmanuel said. “They had to put food color on me to make me look bruised, and it got all sticky on my shirt.”
Part of Bodie’s joy is working with those who aspire to become actors or filmmakers. He said the key to being a success in the business is “making a path for yourself.”
Bodie’s path involved starting a business, Studio 26 Productions, which he owned after graduating from college until 2013 when he sold it. He became nationally known for his work live-streaming events, such as concerts, to the internet. He produced music videos, and did videography work that led to more than 100 Telly, Addy and Aurora awards. He did work for the Weather Channel, The Travel Channel and The Learning Channel.
But his true love was making movies.
In 2009, Bodie’s reputation for making movies grew with the release of “Click Clack Jack: A Rail Legend.” Among its many awards, the children’s movie won “Best Short Film” at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival.
Now comes “Bedsheet Man.”
“I wanted to focus more on filmmaking,” Bodie said of starting Ryan Bodie Films and narrowing the focus of his projects.
“I’m passionate about stories,” Bodie said. “I want to entertain, but at the same time, I want people to walk out of the theater and think about what they just watched.”