<em>Orenthal: The Musical</em>
Courtesy Photo

An often laugh-out-loud funny mockumentary about an eccentric young theatre artist trying to produce an O.J. Simpson inspired version of Othello, Orenthal: The Musical entertains from beginning to end.

Can you explain your connection to the Santa Barbara community?

I went to college at Ohio University and, after completing my senior thesis film, I had plans to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in filmmaking. My then girlfriend and now wife, who is also from Ohio, was willing to join me in Southern California but her finding employment was a little more complicated as she was a reptile zookeeper. Thankfully she was able to find a job at the Santa Barbara Zoo, which turned out to be a blessing as she is now an assistant curator and her wacky husband is able to run around one of the most beautiful places in the world making O.J. Simpson musicals.

Were there any efforts to connect with the O.J. camp or at least share your work with them? I mean, O.J. as Othello is some seriously heady shit.

Ha! While our character in the movie does make a feeble and half-hearted attempt to invite O.J. to the play’s premiere, we decided early on to keep our distance from the real people. While the movie certainly touches on the events, there’s a big difference between a historical biopic and a mockumentary about a theater artist struggling to stage an O.J. Simpson/Othello mashup. That said, I’m still holding out hope that someone involved with the trial does stumble upon the film and reach out to us. If that ever does happen, my money is on Kato.

Was this film as much fun to make as it seemed?

The entire cast/crew were friends of mine either from college or working as an assistant director over the last six years, so yes, it was an absolute blast! There really is nothing better than making a movie with a bunch of your friends.

Where does a movie like this get born? That is to say, how did you come up with this idea?

While studying Othello, in college I was struck by a sudden realization that the story was basically identical to that of the O.J. Simpson saga. I was so overwhelmed by this idea that I literally left class, ran to my dorm room and wrote the song “Let’s Drive this Fucking Bronco Right Off the Road.” Almost 10 years later, here we are at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and I couldn’t be happier!

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