July 8, 2008
Provoan Awaiting Fate of His Film
By Elizabeth Stuart Deseret News
PROVO -- He spent years framing the plot, getting to know the characters and ironing out the dialog. He planned all the camera shots, coached the actors and threaded it seamlessly into a full- length feature film. He went to the Los Angeles Film Festival, introduced "HottieBoombaLottie" to an audience and shook hands with a few big names.
Now there's nothing left for Seth Packard to do but wait -- wait, while, for once, someone else tries to secure a future for the movie he wrote, directed and starred in.
"I wish I could be more involved," said the 25-year-old Provo native, of the tension-filled week he's spent distracting himself, while his agents talk with major film studios like DreamWorks and New Line Cinema. "It's nerve-racking, not knowing where my movie's home will be."
It's better if he keeps busy, Packard said, so he's started blocking out his next script, a pilot for a television series. If his fingers are tangled up on the keyboard and his brain is focused on a different story, it's easier not to hypothesize what the big dogs in film think of their private screenings of "HottieBoombaLottie."
He hopes they laugh.
"This is what I've wanted to do my whole life," Packard said. "I love to tell stories and make people laugh."
That's why, in part, Packard wrote "HottieBoombaLottie," so he could poke fun at the ungainly experiences of his youth.
The story line follows Packard's character, Ethan, through the ups and downs of life as a high school student in Utah (the movie was filmed at Provo High, where, coincidentally, Packard attended as a teen). Balancing an overbearing mother and a brother whose hobby is making him miserable, Ethan conjures up an imaginary relationship with the hottest girl in school. Meanwhile, Ethan's cousin appears to want to take their relationship to the next level.
An "embarrassing amount" of the plot is autobiographical, Packard said. For the rest of the funny little twists, he picked his friends' brains for embarrassing high school memories.
"I'm a big believer in writing what you know," Packard said. "This is what I know. Feeling awkward and trying to get girls out of my league -- that's me in a nutshell."
"HottieBoombaLottie" is more than just a collection of humorous adolescent vignettes, though. Packard spent the latter half of his time at Brigham Young University, where he earned a degree in philosophy and business, studying film theory.
At the time, he was starting to see some success as an actor. He'd been featured in several Disney Channel films and landed a lead role in "I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer" for Sony Pictures Entertainment.
"I was about ready to drop out of college," he said. "I was getting some pretty big checks from acting."
But his father, who teaches philosophy of film at BYU, convinced Packard they could make his philosophy course work applicable to his career dreams. The two spent hours debating acting philosophy. With a team of philosophy and art students, they learned first-hand how to produce a film. Seth wrote the first draft of "HottieBoombaLottie" as a class project.
"Seth learn the ropes of filmmaking at BYU," said his father and teacher, Dennis Packard. "He saw the process of the whole thing, learned the ins and outs of directing and script writing."
Those experiences came in handy when Seth Packard decided to write, produce, direct and star in "HottieBoombaLottie."
Seth Packard had to storyboard every shot before filming even began so the camera crew would know what to do while he was busy saying his lines. He coached the other actors from inside the set. He ran back and forth between each scene to check the framing and chemistry before moving on.
"We had to film the whole thing in 18 days," Seth Packard said. "It was crazy."
But he isn't complaining. He's too busy living his dream.
"HottieBoombaLottie," was, after all, one of only seven feature films selected to premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival, an honor more than 4,500 filmmakers vied for. Critics raved about the film's witty way of drawing in the audience.
"It was a surreal feeling, watching my movie in a real theater," Seth Packard said. "Holy crap, it was so weird. My face was frickin' huge. But at the same time it's really, really satisfying."
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