Josh Heald’s (W’00, Editor-in-Chief 34th Street Magazine(’99), Penn Jazz) first movie, Mardis Gras is getting produced. And this writer is working with another Penn alum producer to get it made.
“The comedy follows three college seniors on a trip to Mardi Gras that is supposed to make up for their lackluster college experience. Once they’re met with the reality of 100,000 sweaty people crammed into 8 city blocks, their challenges mount and friendships are tested, as they vow not to return to school without a story to tell. …And there’s naked boobs, of course, because boobs are awesome.”
Check out how Josh got his start as a writer in Hollywood, who will be starring in the film and what other Penn alum producer he’s working with!!
“I initially began developing the idea in the months leading up to Hurricane Katrina. When the storm hit, I was like, “Okie dokie… guess THAT’S not happening.” But then New Orleans did something amazing and the people vowed to rebound, whatever it took. In a way — and it’s weird to compare the amazing people of New Orleans to a movie about seeing boobs and getting drunk — but in a way, the city started to echo the sentiment of my characters. They would not go down without a fight.
Neither would the project. The studio remained committed and I plugged away at a rewrite, subtly adjusting the story to the post-Katrina city, realizing that the determination and resilience of the people were now influencing the heart of the narrative. Once Screen Gems started casting, the actors really responded to the material and I couldn’t be happier with the talented young cast the studio has put together (IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1083462/).
When it comes down to it, there’s never been a quintessential Mardi Gras comedy and that’s what we’re striving to make. We’re fortunate to have a lot of talented producers aboard, including Adam Herz (writer/creator of first three American Pie movies), who knows this brand of comedy very well. My good friend Phil Dornfeld (Scary Movie franchise) is directing and has an excellent sense of comedy that thankfully (as far as this project is concerned anyway) has nothing to do with the schtick-laden humor of that spoof series. Penn alum Scott Strauss (C’90), a VP at Screen Gems, has long been a champion of the project and helped shepherd it internally.
At the end of the day, the idea is we’re not gonna make a movie that sucks. I’ve seen too many college comedies that go for the easy joke or make absolutely no sense story-wise. With Mardi Gras, we’ve developed characters that speak — in a realistic sense — to the 20s crowd (and LIKE the 20s crowd), and the humor comes as much from their relationships as it does from the gratuitous nudity and set pieces. Gotta have boobs.
Oh… and hopefully you’ll see me somewhere in the movie. I earned my SAG eligibility when Jon Hurwitz (W’00) put me in Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (you’ll miss me in theaters, but I make a great DVD extra scene!).”