At 64, New Jersey resident tries his hand at filmmaking

Former small gym owner launches Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for movie

Bob Messinger wasn’t always interested in making movies, but he was always interested in writing them. In fact, he has five completed feature-length screenplays under his belt, three of which have won international script competitions.

So why, at 64, has Messinger made the switch from writing to filmmaking?

“It doesn’t matter how good your writing may be or how many awards you may have won,” he explains. “The sad fact is that spec scripts just don’t get made by Hollywood anymore. If you want to get your movie made these days, you have to do it yourself.”

And that’s just what Messinger hopes to do. He has recently launched a campaign on the popular crowd-funding site Kickstarter to film his award-winning script “Gymful Remembrances,” which is loosely based on his brief stint as the owner of a 24-hour gym in Parsippany, NJ. If the project is funded, he plans to shoot the movie in and around Parsippany.

According to his Kickstarter campaign page, ” ‘Gymful Remembrances’ is an award-winning screenplay featuring a somewhat quirky cast of characters, including a beleaguered small gym owner, a vengeful crow hell-bent on making him and his dog miserable, a disgraced sex therapist and a Jamaican mystic.”

Messinger describes the project as a “dramedy.”

While the story is set in a gym similar to the one he owned and deals somewhat with the ups and downs of that venture, it’s really a much more far reaching story of “baggage verses happiness,” he says.

“The characters I’ve created are a mixture of people I’ve known over the years as I’ve struggled to break my own destructive patterns and create rewarding relationships.”

Messinger, who spent most of his career as an advertising creative director, opened his 24-hour gym in Parsippany in 2007.

“Just in time for the economic downturn,” he laughs. “Timing has never been my strong point. And it’s certainly not the main character’s strength, either.”

It’s a topic Messinger says he had to approach with humor and a lot of self-deprecation.

Messinger is hoping to raise $70,000 through his Kickstarter campaign, which ends at 1:08 PM on May 31. If he doesn’t raise the full amount by that time, he gets absolutely nothing.

“We opted for Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing approach over other crowd-funding sites because to try to make this movie for anything less would result in a film of lesser quality,” he explains. “That just wouldn’t be fair to our supporters.”

Messinger’s goal of $70,000 is a mere pittance, considering that most Hollywood film budgets are in the millions, but he is confident that he can make a quality film for that amount. Aside from the fact that the digital age has made filmmaking easier and less costly, Messinger has also assembled a team of professionals to help him. He has partnered with Nightstand Studios in Fairfield and has enlisted the studio’s owner and Emmy winner Randy Rossilli to direct the film.

Rossilli, who also owns Nightstand Music Group, will also assist in the music and distribute the soundtrack. And singer/songwriter Shari Spiro of Netcong has already written and recorded the film’s closing song.

Cost will also be held down because most of the people working on the production, including most of the actors, will be donating their time and talents in return for film credit.

“This truly is going to be a north Jersey production,” exclaims Messinger.

A casting call will be going out as Messinger’s campaign gets close to reaching its goal.

“We’re not just taking people’s money and not giving them anything in return,” Messinger says of the Kickstarter project. “We have put together rewards at various levels in return for their support. Plus everyone who contributes gets a thank-you listing in the film’s closing credits.”

Anyone interested in supporting the film may do so by going to Kickstarter.com and searching for Gymful Remembrances, or they may just use the project’s short URL: http://kck.st/1hhCvJ0

Why else at 64 is Messinger determined to make his film?

“Let me explain it like this,” he answers. “I went to see Kevin Smith speak this weekend at the Montclair Film Festival. He explained why he maxed out his credit cards to make his first film, ‘Clerks.’ He said his compelling motivation was, ‘If I don’t get to do this, I think I’m gonna die.’ I fully understand.”

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