Greetings From Florida! Filmmaker Thomas Nudi on Retirement, Excess and Moving Forward

“I’ve always attached the idea of retirement and relaxing to excessive smoking and drinking,” said Thomas Nudi, a Bradenton-based filmmaker whose latest short film, Greetings From Florida!, will be screening at this year’s Sarasota Film Festival in the SRQ Shorts block. A two-person show, the film captures a moment in time for a retired Florida couple, as they while away the day with drink, smoke and idle conversation. Starring Ed Schiff and Deborah Childs, this was the only collaboration between Nudi and Schiff before Schiff’s passing in February.

Nudi wrote the short story that would eventually become Greetings in 2011 while living in Tampa, inspired by the real-life habits of an older couple he befriended. Watching them, he remembered his days growing up near an old American Legion and seeing the same porchsitting traditions, cementing his particular vision of Florida retirement. Something seemed to sit poorly with Nudi – a feeling of emptiness, that something was missing – and it comes through in the characters. “It’s two people who know each other very well,” said Nudi, “having a conversation but not having true intimacy.”

A true Florida production, the film was co-written by William Stribling, with local filmmakers Trishul Thejasvi and Juan Sebastian Baron serving as co-cinematographers and Bradenton-based filmmaker JB Whirtley as first assistant director. Stribling’s film, Down in Flames, has also been accepted by the Sarasota Film Festival, as has Thejasvi’s short, The Sunny Side, which won Most Outrageous at this year’s Orlando Film Festival. Juan Sebastian Baron’s latest collaboration with Sarasota filmmaker Vincent Dale, Paris Love Conspiracy, will also be showing at the festival with the SRQ Shorts collection.

“It’s a hopeful step, getting into the Sarasota Film Festival. It’s one of the better festivals out there right now,” said Nudi. “It’s most exciting because it’s in my back yard and my friends and family will be able to come out and see the film.”

Still, Nudi tries to manage his excitement and expectations. Festivals and accolades are appreciated, but they can’t be the focus, according to the filmmaker. After the requisite years of rejection letters and criticisms that every artist experiences and must overcome, it seems as if he can’t dwell on the good either. “I’m going to push forward regardless,” said Nudi.

It’s only fitting that Nudi’s next project, a feature-length film called Monty Comes Back, revolves around an ego-driven artist hung up on his past successes, no matter how small, who alienates the world around him in an effort to hold onto his self-image. “It’s a very human story,” said Nudi. “It’s a look at a character who we all can be and are sometimes, but are afraid to admit it.” The project reached its funding goal on Kickstarter Mar. 5.

Greetings From Florida! screens in the SRQ Shorts block on Apr. 16 at 7pm and on Apr. 18 at 2:30pm. Both screenings are in the Hollywood 20 Theater.

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