Sure, pizza and marijuana may go hand-in-hand, but it’s when you add amateur detective work to the mix that things get interesting. Those are the themes of Portland-based filmmaker Jonathan Blood’s first feature film “The Water in the Bay,” scheduled to play at the Sanford International Film Festival, May 31-June 1, and at the Emerge Film Festival in Lewiston on June 13-14.
“The Water in the Bay” stars Travis Curran as Baxter, a pizza delivery man who makes more income peddling weed than pies. One day at work, Baxter turns on the radio to hear the news that the Portland police are reopening the case of a series of drowning homicides carried out by the so-called “Casco Bay Killer” one year ago. Baxter, having a history with one of the victims, decides to investigate the case himself in the hopes of finding answers where the police have come up empty.
Though Baxter has a personal connection to the murders, he’s a somewhat conventional detective in the sense that he’s smart, curious, easily bored and inclined to get high every now and again. Kind of like a modern, Portland-based Sherlock Holmes … who happens to deliver pizzas. The film is a mystery at its core, but the influence of the 90s wave of slacker movies is present throughout, with sprinkles of family drama.
“It started out based on a few different ideas put together, so maybe that’s why it kind of feels like there are a lot of different genres going on,” Blood said in a recent phone interview. “We wanted to do a dark comedy, and I’m not sure if I can still call it a dark comedy.”
“There are three of us who wrote the story: Travis Curran, Jake Christie, who wrote the screenplay, and me,” said Blood. Collectively, Blood, Curran and Christie produce films under the name Tasty Dude Films. “We all got together and wrote the outline, and Jake took that and he wrote the screenplay. We all have different strengths. Jake is the writer, Travis is a writer and an actor, and I do some writing, but I pretty much just produce it and direct most of what we shoot, and I do most of the editing. ”
“The Water in the Bay” was filmed in 2010, after Blood and his colleagues submitted a short film titled “Tea Party Hijinks” to Dogfish Head Brewery’s Off-Centered Film Festival. For the festival, the team traveled to the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, where they won the second place prize, giving them some money to begin production of “The Water in the Bay.”
While Blood, Curran and Christie seek distribution for “The Water in the Bay,” noting there are a couple of interested companies, the trio is developing another short titled “Chug.”
“So that’s pretty much what we’re up to this summer.”
Check out the trailer below for “The Water in the Bay”:
Follow me on Twitter @JoelCrabtree