Lazing around like a slacker in a fuzzy pink bathrobe earned a bit of notoriety for Andrew Gumm, a veteran of many Billings community theater productions and a 2005 graduate of Senior High.
In 2009, when Gumm graduated from college at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, he was living down the street from where he’d gone to school, and looking for a change.
“I was in a sort of a listless place, that post-college funk,” said Gumm, who graduated with a degree in theater and psychology.
During college, he began making films with a tight-knit group of friends. He kept working with them after graduation.
This summer, their 19-minute film “Repeat After Me” won best humor film at Comic-Con’s Independent Film Festival. The San Diego convention showcases comic books, science fiction and pop culture.
The comedy’s plot involves two 20-something roommates whose brains are crisscrossed in a bizarre meterological event, causing them to repeat the same words in unison.
The film was made during the year after Gumm graduated from college.
“The character of Andrew is a pretty fair re-telling of my own life, except for all the drinking and smoking,” Gumm said during a phone interview.
Greg Henninger, who was Gumm’s roommate, plays his roommate in the short film. Gumm’s friend Bryan Bangerter, who directed the film, came up with the idea, and their friend Daniel Page did the bulk of the writing.
They had no budget and named their production studio Manor House Films, a joking reference to the cramped rental house they shared with 10 housemates in the Point Loma area of San Diego. The house was their set, and they cast several of their roommates as extras.
After they finished the film, they found financial backers through Kickstarter, a web platform for filmmakers, artists and inventors to solicit financial support for
creative projects. For a certain level of funding, the filmmakers offered several enticements, including putting the backers’ names in the credits. They raised about $1,700 in donations, enough to pay the entry fees for numerous film festivals.
They also posted “Repeat After Me” on Tumblr, a platform that allows users to post videos. The day “Repeat After Me” won at Comic-Con, it got 800 views online.
In April, the film was an official section at the Fallbrook Film Festival in California and won top fiction film and top audience choice awards at the Reality Bytes Student Film Festival at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.
A previous collaboration, “She Sang, She Directed,” a musical done during Gumm’s senior year, won best comedy short at the San Diego Film Festival.
Gumm and Page now work for PK Pictures, a production company in Nashville, Tenn. At the production company, Gumm does whatever is needed, including running the teleprompter and cleaning up after shoots. The job gives him the chance to learn from professionals, he said. He describes this stage of his work life as “early adult grind.”
In May, he and Page flew to Guatemala for 2-½ weeks to be in another film, “Guns from Dead Men,” which is now in the editing stages. The film was made by a college friend who is teaching at an English-language school in Guatemala. The plot revolves around a female student who hates her teacher. Guatemalan high school students made up the rest of the cast and crew.