‘Who’s Jenna?’ – Interview: Thomas Baldinger

❉ Thomas Baldinger, writer/director of indie comedy ‘Who’s Jenna..?’, tells all.

Thomas Baldinger’s festival hit Who’s Jenna..?, the Jersey-set romantic-comedy from 624 Productions and Indican Pictures that unites cast members from The Sopranos, has been described as a film that “includes plenty of comedy, zaniness, drama, and porn” (B Movie Nation) and is released on VOD and DVD April 24.

How much do good reviews help an indie comedy? How does an indie film get distribution via a major label? How important is one’s family to an independent filmmaker, especially during production? Writer/director Thomas Baldinger tells all.

Jonathan Burke (Bill Sorvino), a successful financial advisor, starts dating Jenna Casey (Tracey Birdsall), an accomplished lawyer.  Jonathan’s best friend, Andy Roma (Joseph D’Onofrio) is convinced she looks exactly like a famous adult film star. Not only does Jonathan have to deal with his friend’s nonsense, but he also has to juggle his relationship with his boss (Garry Pastore), who is possibly black-mailing him, and is Jenna’s brother in-law.

A case of mistaken identity creates a whirling storm of comical chaos in Jonathan’s world…

Where did the idea for the story come from? Surely, it’s not based on a real incident?

Well, there are a few scenes in the movie that I have witnessed. But overall it’s not based on a real incident.  The idea came from an article my father wrote.  He’s retired now but at his last place of employment he wrote business articles for a large financial news firm.  At the end of each article he’d mention an odd or funny current event.  This one was about how a few adult film industry actors were suing a very large bank.  I thought, “Wow that’s pretty wild…I wonder…” and then boom I started to write.

How much of the film was in the script and how much of it simply came together on the set?

I wrote a full script and was the back bone.  But on set because I was working with such an incredible cast with so much talent, we had some fun and ad-lib a few things.  Some stuck and some didn’t.  Overall it was a great process making this film and I am very proud of this cast, this crew and the film itself.

Is it hard to write jokes?

I don’t know how to answer that.  I think you need to have a real sense of reality, thick skin and objective.  You can’t have any high opinions…just let it flow.

Did you always intend to direct the movie or was there a stage you considered pitching the script to studios?

No I wanted to direct this.  I wanted to get a feature film under my belt. That was always my objective.

How difficult a film was it to make? Can you talk about some of the challenges?

The cast and crew made it very easy for me to make this movie.  Of course the support of my family especially my wife who always kept me grounded. Like any independent filmmaker the biggest challenge is the financial one.  But fortunately I have a lot of support from family and friends that have supported me and my company and made that challenge more manageable.

Do you think it’s important an indie film gets a festival run first before their release? How did it help your film?

We actually didn’t submit the film to any festivals.  We were very successful in our private screening in April 2016 where we hosted over 300 people at the House of Independents in Asbury Park.  We were also fortunate to have the Golden Door Film Festival ask us to present the film as a red carpet private screening event 5 months later.  It was at these moments when I felt confident we could shop this film straight to distributors and we signed with Indican in 2017.

Congrats on the reviews. How do those good reviews help?

I’ve been told that if you get a review good or bad, be grateful.  The fact that we’ve gotten such good reviews even prior to our release date is a blessing and I am extremely thankful for them.

❉ ‘Who’s Jenna..?’ on VOD and DVD April 24 2018. Written and directed by Thomas Baldinger. Stars Tracey Birdsall (Rogue Warrior : Robot Fighter), Bill Sorvino (Mommy’s Box), Garry Pastore (The Deuce), Vincent Pastore (The Sopranos), Vic Dibitetto (Paul Blart : Mall Cop 2), Jeremy Gilbert (Jurassic World : Fallen Kingdom), Edwin Guerrero (The Other Guys), Jill Christy Reiss (The Good Wife) and Precious Pia. The legendary Amber Lynn makes a special appearance.

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