Monty Comes Back, the film from Bradenton-based writer/director Thomas Nudi shot near entirely in the Anna Maria, Sarasota and Bradenton area, enjoyed its world premiere this morning at the Sarasota Film Festival. A comedic character study, Brandon Tyler Jones stars as Monty, an egotistical and temperamental stage actor who returns home on “creative hiatus” only to wreak havoc on family and friends in this subversive take on the tortured artist/coming-of-age genre. “It was great,” says Jones, seeing the film for the first time this morning as well. “I’m extremely proud to have been a part of it and it wouldn’t have happened without everyone who was a part.”
A New York-based actor, Jones answered the call for auditions alongside actors from across the country, but Nudi knew he had found his Monty from the first reading. “He was a very considerate reader of the script,” says Nudi, who saw an actor not simply learning his lines but someone trying to learn who Monty was. “My favorite part is when actors get into the character and start telling me how they feel,” says Nudi. “That’s what you write for. That’s what you make things for.”
Up north, other actors and filmmakers questioned Jones’ decision to take the role and spend what would ultimately be the better part of a year entangled in a production in a small town in Florida. Other roles would have to be passed over; opportunities missed. But Jones was convinced. “It was the character,” he says. With leading man aspirations, the chance to shoot a film as the title character leading every scene was too good to pass up. “The script was solid,” he says. “I knew what I wanted to do and it was an opportunity to prove myself.”
Ultimately, filming in the region proved a positive experience, freak rain storms aside. “The community itself was entirely embracing and everybody wanted to help,” says Jones. “I didn’t know there was this huge film culture already here.”
An official soundtrack for the film has been released as well, prominently featuring several local independent performers such as The Prospect, Reggie Williams, The Bob Dewart Group and The Smokin’ Bones. Other acts include The Craters, The Hobies and The Roseline. “I collected this music for over 10 years,” says Nudi. “I made them prominent pieces of my life and I’ve never gotten them out of my head.”
Supporting the film, rights to all songs were donated by the musicians. The album is free to download via the link below but donations are welcome, with all proceeds divided equally amongst featured artists.
Monty Comes Back screens for a final time at the Sarasota Film Festival on April 3 at 10:45am.
Pictured: Brandon Tyler Jones and Thomas Nudi. Photo by Wyatt Kostygan.