Sarasota Film Festival writer/director shooting feature film in Bradenton area

BRADENTON -- A 26-year-old Bayshore High School graduate is pulling from life experiences as he works to make a living as a professional film director, writer, poet and author of short stories.

Thomas John Nudi, who had one of two short films he wrote and directed, "Greetings from Florida!" screened at the Sarasota Film Festival in April, is shooting "Monty Comes Back," his first feature-length independent film in hometown of Bradenton.

On Tuesday, Nudi, his best friend and cinematographer Trishul Thejasvi, 34, also from Bradenton, and producer Vincent Dale of Sarasota, led a cast and crew of volunteers. He gathered everyone he could find from relatives to extras from the community and Sarasota's Ringling College of Art and Design and Suncoast Technical College, shooting scenes on location

at the Manatee Performing Arts Center in downtown Bradenton.

Represented by Thejasvi's film company, Orensis Films, Nudi's latest collaboration, which will take only 16 days to shoot, is a comedy-drama financed on a micro budget of $10,538, raised by 39 backers from Kickstarter, a crowd-funding website and two private local donors.

The goal of the venture, according to Nudi, is distribution, so the film can be viewed by as many people as possible and becomes successful enough to finance future films.

His venture reflects the Bradenton Area Film Commission's promotion of the community to the film and entertainment industry as a unique location for film making, photo shoots, video production and other mediums.

"A producer's dream," is how Elliot Falcione describes the area. The executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau says, "By operating a film commission under the direction of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, it allows us to continue to diversify our destination's product in the marketplace."

"Monty Comes Back" is somewhat autobiographical, Nudi said. The main character Monty is a young writer and actor whose early success has turned him into a pretentious and delusional artist. When his life quickly falls apart, Monty moves back to his Florida hometown under the guise of a "creative hiatus," and discovers what makes his life truly meaningful.

Nudi says the theme is the essence of his own self-discovery not too long ago.

"I'm more focused on the art form rather than let's make some money. We (Trishful and I) realize that money is important and you have to have income to thrive, but if you're not going to take the risk to show what you have, to push yourself to get something out there, you're never going to have a chance," Nudi said.

Thejasvi, who collaborated with Nudi on the Sarasota Film Festival short, "Greetings from Florida!," echoed Nudi's sentiments.

"You'll never be proud of playing it safe," Thejasvi said. "All these young kids working on the film are getting so much and learning so many skills. The more people that get involved will go on to make another film and it's nice to know they're learning from us."

Thejasvi headed photography for "Greetings from Florida!," currently featured at the Cannes Film Festival.

Ringling College senior and film major Michael Cavanaugh, 23, of San Francisco, volunteered to play the role of Demetrius for Nudi's movie, one of several, young Athenian lovers in Shakespeare's popular comedy. Cavanaugh, who says this movie experience is well worth his time, is more convinced than ever he wants to pursue an acting career.

"There's always something positive waiting for you, even though it may not be exactly what you're looking for," Cavanaugh said. "You have to be tough, but you also have to have a sense of humor."

Kathryn Moschella, East Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.