The Akron area will play a pivotal role in an upcoming short film. “Escaping Ohio” is a rom-com that hearkens back to movies like “Clueless” and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” while attempting to break the formulaic mold of typical movies in this genre. The film focuses on two 18-year-olds facing adulthood: while Sam intends to leave their small town for California, JJ dares her to give him 24 hours to prove why Ohio is worth sticking around for.
“I want audiences to take away the feeling that it’s OK to put our own destiny first, and recognize that what fulfills one person might feel like settling for another,” said Jessica Michael Davis, the film’s writer, director and star who was born and raised in the Akron area and now lives in New York City.
She said filming will begin in October, and she hopes to have the movie finished next February, followed by a premiere party, along with film festival showings. She’s creating the film as part of her acceptance into the Collab program of the Sundance Institute, a nonprofit that helps advance the work of independent storytellers through theatre and film.
Davis recently visited her hometown to scout locations, of course visiting such staples as Goodyear Metro Park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Swenson’s. And while she reminisces over a number of Akron attractions, “Ohio sunsets are my absolute favorite thing. They are so unique and always breathtaking.”
She adds that this will mark her first time producing a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) film, so there’s a lot more red tape involved, like insurance and liability. “There’s so much detail and preparation that’s needed to make sure everything goes smoothly,” she said. “Time is often against you — even for just a small scene.”
Even though the film is a 15-minute short, the schedule of shooting 20 locations within a week is ambitious, she added.
Davis says she has been writing stories as long as she can remember, and she’s come a long way since the days of riding a Megabus from Akron to New York City for overnight trips to audition. After pursuing work as a dancer and actress, she eventually found her voice as a multi-hyphenate (director, writer, actor) with the edgy award-winning short “Jane.”
For info about “Escaping Ohio,” including film updates, visit www.seedandspark.com/fund/escapingohio.