Monahan makes Scranton his backdrop

Featured — By on July 13, 2006 at 3:24 pm

“Toxic Avenger,” “Class of Nuke ‘Em High” and, soon, “Kickball.”

Area filmmaker Blake Monahan hopes to add his film, “Kickball” — being shot entirely in Northeastern Pennsylvania — to the list of cult classics that have come from Troma Entertainment.

Monahan has worked with Troma since February as Director of Acquisitions and Director of Media Relations. His responsibilities include scouting out and viewing new films, serving as a liaison between the studio and producer in distribution deals and acting as a media contact.

He and the Troma Team Video staff were tossing around ideas for a low-budget project to develop when Jeremy Howell (co-producer/co-director of “Kickball”) came up with a story idea Monahan described as “an homage to not only the sports underdog films of the ‘80s, but to the sex comedies like ‘Porky’s’ as well.”

“Not many people know this, but [Troma founders] Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz got their start producing slapsticky sex comedies in the ‘70s,” Monahan said, “so this is kind of our homage to them as well.”

As “Kickball” began to take shape, Monahan said he found an amazing local support network in the Greater Scranton Film Office and Fortune Casting (www.fortunecasting.com). “When we started, we put together a production time-table that is often described as ambitious,” he said; “but Paige Balitski at the Greater Scranton Film Office has gone above and beyond to make it happen.

“She hooked us up with John Piv and Dave from Fortune Casting and they have also been incredible with helping us pull this off.”

Kaufman and Herz have even joined the project as executive producers. “How many guys get to develop their first project for two guys that run the world’s longest consistently running indie film studio?”

Before taking the job with Troma, Monahan hosted the Mondo Movie Night series at Endless Mountains Theatre. He would rent the theater once a month and screen a 35mm print of a classic horror film. Monahan remains partial to the horror genre, particularly American and European horror films produced between the late ‘60s and late ‘80s. “Stuff like Frank Hennenlotters ‘Neon Trilogy’ – that is what I call the three best films in his repertoire, ‘Basket Case,’ ‘Brain Damage’ and ‘Frankenhooker.’ Garish lighting, over-the-top acting, spongy creatures and blood and guts galore!”

Monahan hopes “Kickball” allows him to shoot more projects around the area. “This is just the first of many projects that I want to develop in Scranton,” he said. “A lot of guys want to use the area as a launching pad to Hollywood. I would like to use it as the backdrop to all of my films, like John Waters in Baltimore or George Romero in Pittsburgh.”

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    1 Comment

  • Jack says:

    I had a chance to meet the people over at the Scranton Film Office with an associate of mine. I was pretty surpised to see that the state and this area in particular is trying some interesting ways to bring productions to this area. Hopefully there will be enough of a balance to get local inviduals like Blake some resources

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