The 6th Annual Ocean City Film Festival kicks off March 3. It will feature hundreds of films. A fifth of those films will be from filmmakers from the area, including Maryland. Bernd Linhart grew up in Towson, in the northern suburbs of Baltimore. He’s currently 48 and has not been to Ocean City since he was 22. He studied theater at Louisiana State University (LSU). He went to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. On a trip back to Baltimore, Linhart met Lance Baldwin, a fellow actor who was working at Linhart’s old high school. Together, Linhart and Baldwin founded the Gunpowder Repertory Theatre, a not-for-profit organization in Timonium, developed to put on plays and other events for the greater Baltimore area. So far, they’ve done three plays. The film LIE Q is the brain-child of both of them. They wrote the screenplay together. They produced it together and they directed it together.
However, a lot of the substance of the film comes from Baldwin’s own life. Baldwin’s family owns an Irish bar in the area. Baldwin’s brother took the LSAT and was invited to join MENSA. Baldwin also began writing the script several years ago, around the time that Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimmer, had been in the news. Linhart talked about watching an interview of filmmaker Edward Burns (The Brothers McMullen) about making a feature for $10,000 or less and believed they could do this film within the same budget.
A lot of talent were pulled from local colleges and universities and there was little to no crew with Linhart and Baldwin doing a lot of the behind-the-scenes work. This was particularly difficult, given that both Linhart and Baldwin were actors in the film as well. All of the locations were made available for free. For example, Linhart made a cold call to an Indian restaurant whose owner volunteered his time and space. The bar, which was the central location, was owned by Baldwin’s family. The swimming pool, which is used in the climax of the film, is the pool of Linhart’s high school where Baldwin worked.
Linhart has done short films before but this was his first feature. Without a typical crew, there were certainly difficulties or troubles. His first day of shooting included some. A microphone mix-up actually shut down or stumbled things for three days. They had a pool of actors through their repertory theatre, but the script was written with Linhart and Baldwin in mind to star. Linhart was meant to play the protagonist but he aged out in the eight years since he and Baldwin wrote it. Linhart instead played the older brother to the protagonist. Any scene that included himself, Linhart would always go last in terms of the coverage. He said that first day was also the toughest as far as him trusting the others around him.
There was a lot of guerrilla film making, but, along the way, Linhart and Baldwin took inspiration from a variety of films. From Meatballs (1979) to Goodfellas (1990) to It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Linhart and Baldwin pulled from a number of sources to make this film.
The majority of the film was shot in March 2019 with some pickup shots in the fall. The editing began in March 2020 during the quarantines that were occurring due to the coronavirus pandemic. It took six months to edit. Linhart was the editor, doing so on the dining room table of his mother’s place. He says he was OCD and stressed, seeing all the mistakes in the footage. Those six months were mainly him learning to hide things through either Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere. By the end, his takeaway is learning to let go and roll with the punches, especially with a very low-budget, independent production like this one. His hopes include the audience having fun with it and the community sharing in the experience.
Sunday, March 6 at 1 p.m. at Flagship Cinemas.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 35 mins.
For more information, go to https://ocmdfilmfestival.com/.
To learn more, go to the LIE Q website, https://www.magicblanketfilms.com/.