Tennis player and actor Ben Sharples had always wanted to write, direct and act in a film about the sport. One night at a dinner party, while making light conversation with friends and relatives about his passion, Sharples was shocked to hear one partygoer say, “I personally think that tennis is a pussy sport.”
Sharples went home to his wife, Marissa Hall, in a fury.
Hall, a 1996 University of Arizona graduate and filmmaker, found humor in his reaction and told him, “you’re so angry right now ... make a movie out of it.”
That was the inspiration for their first film, "Gentlemen’s Fury."
Although they received 15 offers from various distribution companies, Hall’s father, a lawyer, advised the couple to turn them all down and do it all themselves.
“Anyone can make a movie now, which is great, but distribution companies will take advantage of you, so you’ll work your heart out for two years and these people will just take it and give you a little percentage of it," Hall said.
The husband-and-wife team decided to create their own production company, Gold Door Films.
“We are doing this all, one hundred percent, on our own with no help from any studio or big production company," Hall said.
However, after doing all the writing, producing, casting, directing, editing and distributing, they realized how hard creating a film really is.
“No wonder these huge movies have $50 million marketing budgets," Hall said. "We get it."
Despite the extra work and hardships that came with it, she recommends “doing the whole process yourself” to any new filmmaker. “You learn so much; it's such a fascinating process, and it's so empowering to know all the information and have all the tools yourself.”
Even though "Gentlemen’s Fury" was completely edited on Sharples's “tiny little flip-top” laptop and, according to Hall, having a very small budget, Gold Door Films’ vision came to fruition. A dark comedy, the film demonstrates the couple's view that “so many guys think they need to be aggressive and fight in order to be a man — but we’re saying, no, that’s not what makes you a man at all.”
Main character Aaron Faust, played by Sharples, is a professional tennis player who has an aggressive outburst, which results in him being “thrown off the tour and lands him in a league that might not be strictly about tennis,” according to the film's IMDb page. As a child, Faust was told by his father that tennis was not a man’s sport, and despite his passion for the game, was always tormented by its lack of physical aggression.
In an original and satirical display, "Gentlemen’s Fury" demonstrates the silliness of the notion that playing tennis, or doing anything for that matter, makes a man any less.
“Unfortunately, society's kind of told us that, so we're trying to show men and women to lighten it up a little bit," Hall said.
The budget for "Gentlemen’s Fury" was raised completely on Kickstarter, so Gold Door Films is hoping that the sales from the movie, as well as a connection with another small production company, will allow for a larger budget on their next movie. The company only had 18 days to shoot their first film, and shot 10 pages of their script per day. They also hope to have more time for their next movie.
“We would love the ability to have more time, which means more money," Hall said.
Gold Door Films already has another movie ready to go, and Hall said they are looking forward to it because they “made so many mistakes and have learned so much; [we are] just so excited to make an even better movie.”
Hall said their goal is to continue to make movies for the rest of their lives and create a production company that’s “full of integrity, that’s grounded, and is attracting incredible other artists.”
She said the problems that have been going on in Hollywood recently have been around forever, and so the most important thing for the two of them is to “create a company with truly good people and only good people.”
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Hall considers the UA acting program to be one of the best she has ever been a part of. She said she's learned so much, and that the UA helped her tremendously as she now finds so much joy in directing actors.
“We are very grateful to the U of A,” Hall said.
"Gentlemen’s Fury" was officially released Nov. 10, and is now available on iTunes, Vimeo on Demand and Amazon.
“We’re so proud of it," Hall said. "We just want to get the word out. We just want to make people laugh."
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