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Beach filmmakers hope to move into big time

“Moving” premieres at 8 p.m. Saturday, Mar. 2, at the Roper Performing Arts Center, 340 Granby St., Norfolk. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 and can be reserved by phone toll-free at 1-877-841-5582 or online at 

By Mike Holtzclaw
Daily Press

February 28, 2002

Key actors quit before big scenes. An actress playing a prostitute was dropped at the last moment when it turned out she was only 14 years old. An angry neighbor kept running a lawn mower over the same patch of grass in order to disrupt filming.

"I'm telling you," says Matthew Friedman of Virginia Beach, "If we could make a movie about the making of this movie, that one would make a million bucks."

Instead, Friedman and his brother Jonathan must be content with the film itself, "Moving," which premieres on Saturday at the Roper Performing Arts Center in Norfolk. The film, made with about $15,000 of their own money and several years of their time, is their first feature-length production.

It began when Jonathan Friedman was in a script writing class at James Madison University and had a burst of inspiration -- a man comes home from work and finds that his entire house has been stolen -- while working on a class assignment.

"He wrote the first 10 pages of the script for that class," Matthew Friedman says. "The class loved it. The professor loved it. They told him he should make a movie out of it. So he did."

The brothers worked together on the screenplay, which expanded into a road picture about the man's attempts to recover the stolen home and everything in it. They shot it, with Jonathan directing and Matthew assisting, on locations in Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Portsmouth. The actors and crew members largely worked for free, hoping for exposure.

Like many aspiring filmmakers in recent years, the Friedmans used affordable equipment -- videotape, digital cameras, simple computer software -- to make the film on a tight budget. Jonathan financed it by purchasing video equipment at auctions and then re-selling it online.

"This is a movie that should have cost 20 or 30 million dollars," Matthew deadpans.

The entire filmmaking process is detailed on a Web site -- -- that is almost as entertaining as the movie itself, complete with photos of the lawn-mowing neighbor.

After its premiere Saturday, "Moving" will be shown at international independent film festivals in New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. For now, they are focusing on the local event this weekend. But it's not easy.

When asked how old he is, Matthew turns to his brother and asks, "I'm 28, right?" Confirmed. And Jonathan is 29.

"You'll have to forgive me," Matthew says. "I've lost all track of time since filming began. I don't know what time it is or even what month it is. I have to set an alarm to remind me to set an alarm."

In recent years, videotape and more affordable equipment have opened a whole new world for young filmmakers. In 1992, Robert Rodriguez' "El Mariachi," filmed on a budget of $7,000, became a critical hit and made $2 million on the art house circuit. In 1999, "The Blair Witch Project" went from an indie film with good buzz to a $140 million blockbuster.

While the Friedmans are keeping their expectations in check, Matthew admits that he occasionally fantasizes about "Moving" hitting the fast track on the film festival circuit.

"In fact, I think about it all the time," he says. "Jonathan's the more pragmatic one. But right now we're just focusing on this weekend and getting it all to come off well. After that, we'll see where it goes."

Mike Holtzclaw can be reached at 928-6479 or by e-mail at

Copyright © 2002, Daily Press