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Workin’ for the man

Wren Wertin
Jonathan Bricklin's "Minimum Wage" hits the silver screen for its world premiere at the Vilar Center today at 3:30 p.m.
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Has Jonathan Bricklin been stringing Vail along, hyping a straight-to-video work, or will his film “Minimum Wage” be the next indie masterpiece to sweep Sundance? Today’s world premiere at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek ought to answer the question once and for all.

Bricklin, an Avon resident, shot “Minimum Wage” this summer in Eagle County. The Vail Daily followed the tribulations and boons of the young filmmaker during the shoot. By shamelessly calling upon the talents of a wide array of his own friends, he recruited actors for free, including Brian Klugman (“Fraser”), Sandra Berardi (“Daffodil”), Gary Anthony Williams (“Undercover Brother”), David Shackelford (“Kingpin”), Chris Elwood (“How High”) and Jenni Pulos (the latest Homie, Lil’ Pu).

The blue-haired Elwood was soon a recognizable figure around town, as was the rest of the cast (especially when wearing a particular elephant hat that might be considered another character in the movie). After Bricklin and Mike DeMatteo (local sound god) spent the summer learning more than they wanted about the digital editing process, it’s all systems go for the cartoonish, sometimes surreal, work.

After today’s screening at the Vilar, Bricklin and crew are hopping in the car and traveling to Hollywood. There they have a screening at Universal Studios.

“Everyone in cast and crew is calling their best people for it,” said Bricklin. “Best case scenario, we want someone to make a call to the Sundance people and offer to send it over.”

“Best people” includes Demi Moore, and Bruce Willis’ assistant.

Bricklin is loathe to speak too much about what the movie is about, as he wants to viewer to draw his or her own conclusions. Most important for him is pure entertainment factor. There’s nothing deep enough to drown in.

“Honestly, when I was writing it, I just wrote whatever made me laugh,” he said. “I went in and inserted the meaning later.”

What results is a story not plot-driven but character-driven. Klugman’s stoned-to-the-gills Oscar steals the show.

Though it’s supposed to be set in a generic mountain town, locals will recognize some of the locations, such as Box Office Video in Avon, The French Press in Edwards and the Eagle Diner in Eagle. Employees, and sometimes the owners, of those venues make cameos in the film. The thing about having no budget to speak of is you’re pretty much at the mercy of people’s better natures. Luckily for Bricklin, Zach Stone of the French Press kept his doors open for the movie crew until past 2 a.m. Odie Hernandez and Kim Merritt of Box Office Video helped the crew work through the night, and then left a little after dawn for their respective second jobs. The list goes on and on. If nothing else, “Minimum Wage” is a beautiful exercise in community spirit.

“Minimum Wage” will be shown one time only at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Vilar Center Box Office at 845-TIXS or at the door. They are $5, less than minimum wage.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at wrenw@vaildaily.com or phone at 949-0555 ext. 618.


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