Conventional wisdom tells us the main character in a story needs to be likable. Nobody watching "Rocky IV" is rooting for Ivan Drago. Nobody wants Johnny to sweep the leg in "The Karate Kid." People want to identify with the hero of a story, so it's not often you see the "bad guy" as the main character in a movie.
But Bradenton filmmaker Thomas Nudi has never really been one for convention. His latest project and first feature film, "Monty Comes Back," tells the story of Monty, a pretentious, black-eye wielding actor who's let some minor success go to his head. He the story's protagonist, but frankly, he's kind of a jerk.
"That was kind of a point of contention for me in film school," says Nudi, who wrote and directed the film. "We would go back and forth and people would tell me, 'You can't have a main character that you don't like!' I always thought, "Well, why not?'"
In the movie, Brandon Tyler Jones plays Monty, a writer and actor working at a community theater in Michigan whose ego quickly plummets his life into a downward spiral. He loses his job and his girlfriend and is forced to move back in with his parents in Florida, where he must face his issues, which are only magnified in his small hometown.
By telling the story through the eyes of a character who's largely unlikable, Nudi hopes audiences will gain a new point of view. Perhaps most important in this shift in perspective, he says, is the realization that things aren't so black and white — that maybe anyone is capable of the types of behaviors we associate with bad people.
"I do see some of myself in Monty," says Nudi. "When I was younger, my ego was a lot bigger than it is now, and I think parts of his character are an exaggeration of what I could've become. When you ask audiences to sympathize with a character they don't necessarily like, you realize everyone is capable of these behaviors."
Nudi, along with producer Vincent Dale and producer/cinemetographer Trishul Thejasvi, filmed the feature over two the course of two weeks on location on Anna Maria Island on a $10,000 Kickstarter-funded budget. They're currently in the early stages of post-production and hope to have the film released by December or January.
Nudi says he hopes the film inspires audiences to reflect on their own lives or at least consider a new perspective. After all, it's never to late for a second coming of age.
"Sometimes you think you have it all figured out," he says. "But then you realize there's a lot more to it."