It might not be The Avengers, but A Cleveland in the Rye, a locally produced mockumentary that began shooting here last week, portends to bring more attention to Cleveland, albeit on a much smaller, grassroots level. The film is about an inept filmmaker (Gina Snyder) who is documenting self-proclaimed "action lawyer" James Cleveland (Brian Spaeth) as he tries to find the seven kidnapped daughters of an enigmatic Senator (Jeff Grover).
The daughters are all played by YouTube sensation Jenna Marbles. "The shots we take of her will look very much like her YouTube videos," says Spaeth. "The way I wrote her parts are like, 'Here's generally what we need you to say.' I hope she can make the role into her own."
One recent morning while shooting at the Ameritrust Tower in downtown Cleveland, Spaeth, who also wrote the script and co-produced the film with local publicist Diana Greenberg, took a break from filming in the building's beautiful, marble-floored rotunda to describe the film that he says is an absurdist comedy and a tribute to Cleveland. "When we realized this place was available for filming, I did a rewrite of the entire script to place about 98% of the film in here," says Spaeth. "It's an amazing location, and we're using everything from the vault in the basement all the way to the rooftop." "I'm not looking to do the festival thing because with this type of genre, most festivals aren't interested in this stuff," he says. "The traditional festival circuit is a lot of hurry up and wait."
A self-published author, Spaeth says he isn't looking for distribution or trying to get his movie into multiplexes. Rather, he just hopes the film will create a splash with its digital release.
"Everybody knows the new distribution method is all online so you can build your audience first there and get them interested," he says, adding that he hopes to have it finished by spring. "But no one has really cracked that code. The film, however, is kind of made for YouTube. The editing and cut will be really kinetic and fast-paced. That's what we're going for, though the film will be long enough that it can go to cable."