Manor man's film finds odd gifts can be unbearable
Why would a woman give her 29-year-old brother-in-law a teddy bear wearing a patriotic sweater?
The odd gift puzzles David Safin's character in his short film, “The Birthday Present,” which was featured at the Johnstown Film Festival on Sept. 6. Safin, 36, of Manor, finished the film last year as his thesis project for his master of fine arts degree in film and digital technology from Chatham University.
The 23-minute comedy follows the ramifications when Safin's character, Scott, derides the stuffed bear and gives it away.
Scott is especially perplexed about his sister-in-law's comments that the sad-looking bear reminded her of him and that he should consider keeping it on his bed.
“The structure of it is very similar to ‘Seinfeld,'” said Safin, an assistant communication professor at St. Vincent College, near Latrobe.
“That was one of my influences. You get yourself into trouble, and it's how you get yourself out of trouble.”
Much of the filming took place at Safin's home, though one scene happens in the parking lot of the Penn Crossing Shopping Center in Harrison City.
The bear also has a local connection. Safin found it for sale at L&L Fleatique Too, an indoor flea market in Adamsburg.
One of Safin's former students, Alex Byers, a 2008 St. Vincent graduate, was the director of photography for the project.
“His writing style is quick, and there's a lot of hidden comedy, sort of like the show ‘Arrested Development,'” said Byers, who now works as a wedding photographer.
Festival organizers said it was well-received as the leadoff of nine movies, with a judge, Ellen Singleton, calling it clever and cute.
“This was definitely a family movie,” she said.
In mingling at the festival, Safin said, he also heard positive comments from audience members, which is encouraging him to pursue another project.
“It's nice that they said that, and I guess I need to get back to work.”
Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-871-2363 or email@example.com.