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Independent film set in Columbia to premiere at Blue Note

Thursday, November 1, 2012 | 11:24 a.m. CDT; updated 7:14 p.m. CDT, Thursday, November 1, 2012
Gary Glass, left, Michael Mahal, middle, and Krystal Barnard sit in a limousine while filming an independent film titled "30 Girls, 30 Days" on Sept. 14 outside Club Vogue in Columbia. Mahal is producing the film.

COLUMBIA — Those attending the movie premiere of "30 Girls in 30 Days" will see familiar Columbia locations like the MU Columns and Coffee Zone.

Although one scene takes place at the Lake of the Ozarks, the R-rated film was almost entirely filmed in Columbia. It was written, produced, directed, edited and shot by Columbia resident Michael Mahal. 

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The premiere will be Nov. 30 at The Blue Note, at a time to be announced later.

Mahal, 26, graduated a year early from Rock Bridge High School and attended New York Film Academy at Universal Studios, Los Angeles, where he got his degree in filmmaking.

Although he had dreamed of making films since a family trip to Universal Studios where saw the sets of "Jurassic Park" and "Back to the Future," he was sidetracked into making commercials.

“I accidentally landed my first commercial at a furniture store," he said. "And they ended up liking me so much that I got references.”

Mahal has directed over 1,000 commercials to date. He has worked as a commercial director in Los Angeles as well as Missouri, and he filmed both the 2009 Miss Missouri Pageant and 2010 Summerfest. 

"Making commercials isn't really that different from shooting a movie," he said. "A commercial is 30 seconds. A movie has hundreds of 30-second scenes. I am basically doing what I normally do on a larger scale."

The plot of "30 Girls in 30 Days" has two wealthy men making a million-dollar bet on whether they can get another man to sleep with 30 women in 30 days. Mahal described it as "a raunchy comedy that turns into a romantic love story.”

“If you are a girl, you probably won’t like this movie,” he added. “Guys should definitely come out and watch it.”

Mahal's parents helped fund the $25,000 film. Saving money was part of the reason he set the film in Columbia.

“I wanted to do a low-budget comedy with a simplistic location to shoot in, so Columbia it was,” he said. "It's cheap; you don't need a film permit and most locations are available for free."

He also used local amateur actors to play the roles. He held auditions May 13 at Stony Creek Inn, and 80 people showed up.

The filming began in mid-May and by the time it wrapped in early October, more than 100 actors and extras had taken part. Most of the roles are filled by women. 

Lead actor Russell Perkins had never acted before his Stoney Creek Inn audition.

“It’s been crazy," Perkins said. “I do oddball things. I found out about the film from Facebook, and I showed up to the audition for fun. The part worked for me because I’m pretty nerdy and charismatic in real life.”

Tiffany Hernandez, who also has a lead role, had no acting experience, but she found she enjoyed acting.

"I'd love to see how well I do in the scheme of things and maybe see if I could pursue acting further," Hernandez said. 

Although this was the first acting experience for the majority of the cast, a few had acted before.

Ed Hanson, who plays a grandfather, has been performing for 45 years and worked as a professional actor for four years. He founded Talking Horse Productions and runs the company out of the Berlin Theater, adjacent to Cafe Berlin.

"I filmed a commercial with Michael previously," Hanson said. "I have complete faith in his abilities, and I enjoy watching his delight and excitement with the results of the film." 

After the screening, the film will be submitted to film festivals and distribution companies, Mahal said.

"We hope to make enough money to fund our next project."

Supervising editor is Emilie Stigliani


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