A finalist for ‘Best Short’ at the Maryland International Film Festival, Charming is the newest addition to the world of independent film. It brings a comedic yet dramatic spin to the character of “Prince Charming” and his tragedies of love.
Not everyone can live happily ever after”
I immediately fell for Charming, and wanted to know more about the idea behind the film that’s stealing everyone’s heart. So, I met up with Writer and Director, Tom Albanese to find out more about his spin on the most notorious fairytale male character of all time.
Interview with Tom Albanese Charming
1. What led you in the direction of a fairytale short?
It all began with a girl. (Laughs) Actually I’m pretty sure I was getting over a girl at the time, so I was connected to being down and out about not finding love. I was writing your typical coming of age/breakup story when I started to wonder what made mine any different from the thousands already out there.
Around the same time I was playing Cinderella’s Prince in a production of Into the Woods while studying theatre in New York. I was having an absolute blast and wanted to delve more into who the Prince was when at some point I thought — “what if I made that down and out guy in my story Prince Charming?”
2. Did Charming evolve into what you envisioned from the beginning?
It actually began as a feature. My friend, Christopher Jones, and I optioned the feature-length screenplay to Inferno (now Lotus) Entertainment a couple years back as an R-rated comedy. We toned it way down to a Pretty Woman meets Shrek vibe, pretty much changing the entire script and plot. After over a year of sporadic rewrites and not much happening, we got the rights back and I found myself hesitant in circulating the script around Hollywood again. I thought the way it wove together numerous fairy tales to tell an original story hadn’t been done and didn’t want it to get locked in limbo at a production company or studio. Why wait on someone else to bring this to life when I could give it a shot myself?
I restructured it to work as a short and when I realized I had amazing friends who were also actors, DPs, costume designers, etc. it began to seem silly not to take that jump and go for it.
3. What were you looking for among the cast when you chose talent for these roles?
A sense of humor and a willingness to just dive in, despite our limited resources. I have some amazing friends, both actors and non-actors, who just rocked it. Patricia brought this lovable goofiness to the Witch that made her different from other incarnations. My friend Karla is Cinderella. Beeny (the Dwarf) is the funniest person I know. Will and Marian, who played the King and Queen, were a blast — Will’s takes always ended with the crew in stitches. The trickiest was casting the role of Gus. We saw a ton of great kids, but our hearts just melted during Lucas’ audition. He brought so much to the film and grounded the story. The whole cast made my job easy.
4. Why Prince Charming? Clearly you could have chose any male character, but you went with the most infamous of them all.
I thought about that — why not create a new character, a la Flynn Rider (Tangled), and imagine an entirely new backstory? But I was so intrigued with who this Prince Charming guy was all about. Here’s this guy, waltzing into seemingly every fairy tale, saving the day, kissing the princess, and riding off into the sunset. But why was he kissing all these princesses? What happened after everyone rode off into the sunset? Attempting to answer those questions along with understanding that, despite his name, he’s just a guy trying to live happily ever after, really drew me in.
5. What’s your favorite fairytale of all time and why?
Ah, that’s a tough one, but I have to go with Beauty and the Beast. I think Disney really nailed it on the head with their adaptation. In a romance, you want your audience to fall in love with two characters who for whatever reasons can’t be together, and I don’t know if there another story I’ve loved the two main characters more than I do here. The Beast is learning to see that he deserves love and his spell broken. She starts to see that beneath his walls, there is good in him. He accepts the parts of her that others see as “strange” or “odd”. It’s a classic story and you constantly see its structure popping up in today’s stories.
6. What’s coming next for you Tom? And where will we see Charming?
I’ve currently been hired to write a biopic on an early 20th century Hollywood icon. Directing-wise I go into pre-production on my second short Arcadia this summer, a period fantasy that follows a heartbroken Southern belle who searches for her husband after he disappears looking for a mythological city.
Charming will be released online later this year. For more information about Charming visit www.charmingshortfilm.com.