Hail good polliwogs! MERIT BADGES now online
After our recent successful film festival screenings, short comedy film MERIT BADGES has finally launched the film online. I’ve been delighted about the response the film has received and was honored to participate in some prolific (sez the over-eager kid who called up Bill Arnold’s office 25 years ago trying to con her way into a PA gig) North Carolina film festivals.
MERIT BADGES is a 6-minute short about a motley group of girl scouts who need to sell enough cookies and lemonade to attend the big Polliwog Jamboree. On the hottest day of the year, the Polliwogs set up their cookie stand in a run-down strip mall between a fly-by-night loan store and an adult massage parlor, but no matter how many customers pass by, the girls can’t seem to make a sale. Enter one hot ride and two nefarious-looking strangers who, unbeknownst to our heroes, happen to be in the midst of a heist. Choking on exhaust fumes from the bandits’ car, the leader of the Polliwogs attempts to move the getaway driver along with an appeal to logic, but soon discovers the imminent danger as she spots a bound and gagged hostage who pleads for help in the back seat of the bandits’ car. Realizing his cover is blown and stalling for time until his partner can return with the loot, the Wheelman and the scouts have a standoff over cookies and lemonade.
Watch the film below:
This project has been a long time coming. I think my first script draft came together in late 2015, early 2016 as an idea for a single-location short that was a bit closer to my crimey roots– which I think was a minor success given my favorite compliment invokes the great Elmore Leonard:
— Casey Stegman (@cestegman) June 4, 2020
Then at some point in 2016, the script made the rounds in my cherished writing workshop The Left Door and my first emails to gut check with some wise, wise film folks are dated October 2016. And four years later here we are.
One of the big challenges of this project was getting back on the horse, as Director, and working through a lot of anxiety that had built up. I was always more than eager to volunteer to work on other people’s projects, but I’m not very patient or generous toward myself it turns out. But in all the time since my last go, I just couldn’t shake the notion that I could make something better. After a few vent sessions, and apprehensively asking– *gasp* — for help and input from trusted and talented local filmmakers like Konrad Arnold, Monique Velasquez, Piper Kessler, and Andrew Martin, I decided that okay, maybe this undertaking wasn’t delusional.
Not that delusion has ever stopped anyone from making an independent film before, 😉
Partnering with Producer and Editor Kieran Moreira was really key to me not foiling myself. I trust Kieran because he’s an amazing filmmaker, a kind friend and this project wouldn’t have turned out a fraction as well without his awesome commitment and organizational skills.
So I do really want to again thank everyone that helped this project get this made. We had a ton of support throughout the production and I’m really proud of the result. I hope you take a look and I’d love to hear any feedback in the comments.