A Los Altos businessman has teamed up with his sister to turn a coming-of-age story he wrote a decade ago into a film.
Steve Wayne and his sister, Lisa Belcher, are in the midst of completing work on “The Gift,” a 25-minute film adaptation of a fictional tale Belcher described as a “coming-of-age, adventure story.”
The father of two boys, Wayne noted that the film depicts 12-year-old Bobby Parker and a wrapped gift given to him by his father. The gift, essentially, is a physical representation of the father’s love for his son, which Bobby carries everywhere, Wayne added. As the story unfolds, however, Bobby encounters harassment and peer pressure by students at his new school because of the gift and ends up facing a difficult choice.
“He’s just this pure, happy-go-lucky kid and his dad loves him,” said Wayne, founder and CEO of ProspectNow, a Los Altos-based online real estate prospecting service. “His dad’s love is represented with this physical gift … and he’s really faced with fitting in – and to fit in, he’s challenged to destroy the gift by his new friends. Or, he can retain the gift and never be accepted. This is the crux of his choice.”
Belcher, meanwhile, noted that when her brother decided to share his original story with her, it unexpectedly evoked a range of emotions and thoughts about their father, Ken.
“Ironically, he sent it to me on our father’s birthday,” said Belcher, who has a background in videography and previously worked on independent film productions as a screenwriter, film editor, producer and actress. “When I read it, I thought a lot about our dad, how we think of our dad and how his love has always been there for us. He’s the best dad in the world.”
Belcher, in turn, successfully pitched her brother on turning his short story into a film. Living in Hong Kong with her husband and children at the time, she rolled up her sleeves and began work on the film in early 2014, writing – and then rewriting – the film’s script eight times in early 2014. Belcher and Wayne managed to crowdfund the $30,000 needed for preproduction and filming.
To fill out her cast and production team, Belcher turned to Hong Kong’s art community for help. Belcher said she used The Hong Kong International School – where her children attended – as one of the main locations for the film shoot. She also recruited several of the school’s students – and even some of their parents – to act in the production. All told, Belcher said, filming took place over a 13-day span in May.
“There’s an amazing film community in Hong Kong of people who are really passionate about the art of it … so I just started gathering people to join the team,” said Belcher, who made her directorial debut with the film.
Wayne stayed stateside during filming of his story. While he conceded that he had a few briefs moments of uncertainty, he noted that the end product created by his sister “completely” matched his vision for the 10-year-old tale and its characters.
“When you write something, you kind of envision what it’s like in your mind,” he said. “It’s so interesting, because the gift – the way the gift looks in its physical manifestation – is exactly as I imagined in my mind. She was so connected to the story that it was almost like magic.”
Wayne added that while filming is complete, post-production work on “The Gift” remains in progress. Wayne and Belcher aim to crowdfund the additional $20,000 needed to complete the project so that they can enter it in various film festivals.
Wayne said the experience of working with his sister to turn the story into a film has been gratifying.
“For me, it’s just super rewarding to look at this and see something that I envisioned in my mind’s eye being created into some pseudo-reality by my sister,” he said. “That’s just awesome.”
For more information, visit thegiftthemovie.com.