15
May
2024
0

Award-Winning Artists Reunite for Chicago-Based ‘How’d It Go’ As Their First Film Kicks Off Festival Run

Production has officially wrapped on How’d It Go, a new short film directed by Elizabeth Laidlaw (pictured left) of CBS’s The Red Line and written by award-winning playwright and filmmaker Spenser Davis. A dark comedy about dogpiling in the digital age, it focuses on a young graphic designer (E.M. Davis) who receives a seemingly innocent call from a dating-centric radio show that quickly devolves into a live on-air cancellation. Filmed almost entirely in one unbroken take, the short places us in the front passenger seat as our lead character Ty feels the world close in around them.

This marks the second collaboration for this trio of artists in under a year. Their first, I’m Pretty Sure My Therapist Thinks I’m a Bad Actor, recently won Best Comedy Short at the FunnyAF Comedy Festival in Atlanta, following screenings in Maryland and at the Indy Film Fest in Indianapolis; the festival run will continue in Los Angeles next month. Written and directed by Spenser Davis, that short centers around an actor (E.M. Davis) whose therapist (Laidlaw) attends one of their performances but doesn’t stick around afterwards to congratulate them, sending the former into an emotional spiral that ultimately leads them to kidnap the latter. Themes of anxiety and instability play a major role in both films.

Spenser Davis, Elizabeth Laidlaw, E.M. Davis, Dean Berdussis reunite for How’d It Go

“From the very beginning, E.M. and I envisioned Therapist as the first in a series of three self-contained shorts we’re calling The Anxiety Trilogy,” says Spenser Davis. “And then on set, we had such a fantastic time working with Laidlaw as an actor that we immediately searched for our next project together. After one call between the three of us and her producing partner and Director of Photography Dean Berdusis, we had the next two projects locked in, and How’d It Go was decisively the one to tackle first.” 

Says Laidlaw, “I had a great time in 2019 directing E.M. at Broken Nose Theatre, when they and Spenser were helming the company – so when Spenser reached out, I was delighted to jump into I’m Pretty Sure My Therapist Thinks I’m a Bad Actor. Simultaneously, Dean and I had been looking for more projects to do together, so when E.M. and Spenser approached us about the trilogy of shorts, we were very keen to collaborate. On reading How’d It Go, I immediately saw it as a single-shot, as a way to slowly keep the pressure on E’s character and the viewer, not allowing an audience a break as we move through the space. That requires a very engaged, knowledgeable and skilled DP operating the camera, almost dancing with the performer, and Dean was ideal for that job.”

“Giving ourselves the challenge of a one-take was something that was incredibly stimulating to me as an artist and producer,” E.M. Davis says. “The camera is always a silent scene partner to any actor, and to work so closely with Dean on how we delicately danced around each other was very rewarding. And then, to add an ensemble of over a dozen background actors (and they really are an ensemble) into the mix, made this film shoot truly come alive.”

Additional Casting includes Kevin Alves (host of the popular live podcast “Based on a True Story”), Jill Oliver (Luteal, the upcoming Stars in the Water), and Jose Cervantes, who recently won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series with the cast of The Bear.

I’m Pretty Sure My Therapist Thinks I’m a Bad Actor was a collaboration between the Davises and DP/Editor Matthew Freer. How’d It Go is produced by the Davises, Laidlaw, and Berdusis.

ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS

Elizabeth Laidlaw (Director) has worked in Chicago professionally since 1993. Film: the features Sin Eater, Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party, Into The Wake, Eastern College, Dimension, and Three Days. Television: “The Red Line”, “NCIS” (CBS), “Chicago Med” “Chicago PD” and “Crisis” (NBC),“Betrayal” (ABC), and “Boss” (Starz), and “The Chicago Code” (FOX). She directed the award winning short, Detective Tickles, and co-produced, directed episodes and starred in the dramedy web-series The Haven, (thehavenweb.com). Theatre credits: Chicago Shakespeare, Steppenwolf, Writer’s Theatre, Goodman, Court Theatre, Northlight and many, many others. Regional credits include Indiana Repertory Theatre, Irish Classical Theatre Company, and American Repertory Theatre. She founded Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre and served as artistic director 2003-2019. As a stage director, she led many productions at LST, and recently the critically acclaimed Girl in the Red Corner with Broken Nose Theatre. She received her BFA from Illinois Wesleyan University and completed post-graduate Shakespeare studies at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art of London, UK. Most recently, Ms. Laidlaw appeared as series regular Officer Vic Renna on “The Red Line” on CBS. She is currently the voice of Dr. Eva Graff in, and a producer of the critically acclaimed speculative fiction podcast Derelict (derelictpodcast.com). 

Spenser Davis (Writer, Producer) is an award-winning playwright, stage director, and filmmaker. As a screenwriter, his first pilot Knox County Nights was a Finalist at the Austin Film Festival and is now under option with A+E Studios; he is currently developing projects for film and television with Busy B Entertainment, among others. His debut short as a writer-director, I’m Pretty Sure My Therapist Thinks I’m a Bad Actor, is enjoying its festival run. As a theatre artist, he has received the the M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award from the American Theatre Critics Association, the Goodman Theatre’s Michael Maggio Directing Fellowship, and Best Director accolades from both the Jeff Awards (Chicago) and the B. Iden Payne Awards (Austin, TX). Recently, he worked alongside Tony Award winner Robert Falls on the World Premiere of Rebecca Gilman’s Swing State, which then transferred Off-Broadway and has since been released on Audible. He’s proud to be represented by both WME and Heroes and Villains Entertainment. 

E.M. Davis (Actor, Producer) is a trans/nonbinary actor, writer, and producer who was raised in the suburbs of Chicago. Most recently, they were in the cast of Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s Richard III, the inaugural production of new Artistic Director Edward Hall and starring Tony Award nominee Katy Sullivan. A recipient of the inaugural Sarah Siddons Society Professional Development Grant, they’ve had the pleasure of working onstage in Chicago with The Goodman Theatre, Northlight, A Red Orchid Theatre, American Blues, among others, and regionally at both South Coast Repertory and the Colorado New Play Festival. Their onscreen work includes “4400” (The CW), the JobsOhio campaign aired during March Madness, and the documentary I Am Me. After a successful 4-year tenure as Artistic Director of the award-winning Broken Nose Theatre, E has expanded their focus to writing and producing film. Their first short as producer, I’m Pretty Sure My Therapist Thinks I’m a Bad Actor, is currently on its festival run. They’re a proud member of Actors’ Equity and represented by Big Mouth Talent.

Dean Berdusis (Producer, Director of Photography) A Chicago native and founding team member of Gravity Well Studio, Dean’s work as Commercial Director and Director of Photography helped creative teams garner 13 Palm D’ors and a Cleo award. His recent projects as Director and DoP include Disney, GolfPride, L’Oreal, and The Brady Center For Gun Violence. His debut short film A Perfect Manhattan, starring Danny Goldring and A Red Orchid Theater’s Larry Grimm, screened at the 2010 LA Shorts and Chicago International Film Festival. Following shorts include Murphy’s Law, written by Chicago playwright James Lynch, and Purple Skin, a collaboration with San Fransisco’s Red Thread Films and Choreographer Stephanie Martinez. How’d It Go marks his second collaboration as DoP and Editor with Director Elizabeth Laidlaw, trailing their recent award-winning short Detective Tickles. Dean continues his narrative evolution as Director, DoP, and editor on the Trash Panda episodic comedy series.

Be sure to check back here at SCREEN Magazine for the latest in Chicago and Illinois independent film production. You can also click right here to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.

Leave a Reply