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Director/co-writer Sean Anders' comedy is a subversive, edgy and politically incorrect take on American subculture and its fans and followers. The cast of quirky characters includes Shawn (Anders), founder of a frozen entrée collectors club and lead singer for a raunchy punk band that recently converted to Christian rock—for the money; Shelly (Shelly Frasier), a 33-year-old virgin who works for an intercourse prevention hotline; Al (Allen Zwolle), who cuts children's hair while dressed as a clown; Milo (John Angelo), who owns the anti-abortion themed No Choice Café; and Scott (S. Joseph Isham), an "ex-gay" firefighter who steals collectibles from still smoldering fires.
 

 NBT Never Been Thawed

For any first-time filmmakers, opening their movie in theatres across the country is a dream come true. This would have been the case for us if that dream had occurred to us in the first place. When we fired up our cheapo cameras to make a no-budget comedy with our friends, we never considered a Podunk film festival, let alone an actual national theatrical release.

We had no prior filmmaking experience. NBT Never Been Thawed was conceived as nothing more than a three-month learning project. We would stumble our way through the process of making a movie—probably a really bad movie. But we might learn some valuable lessons that could be applied down the line should we ever get the opportunity and the budget to make a “real movie.”

After our first day of shooting, we had already learned our two most important lessons:
1) Filmmaking is a lot harder than originally forecasted.
2) We can do it.

We had foolishly scheduled fourteen set-ups for our first eight-hour day. Twelve hours later we had accomplished four. However, the four that we had finished turned out so great that we immediately stopped production to go back to work on the script. We started to take this movie thing a little more seriously.

For the next year and a half we slugged it out in the Arizona heat, shooting whenever and wherever we could. We had written an ambitious script that called for over fifty locations, hundreds of actors and extras and hundreds of original props—none of which we could afford to pay for. (Our total budget came in just under twenty grand and most of that was spent on Gatorade and beer.) We didn’t write it this way because we were necessarily ambitious ourselves; we were just too stupid to know any better. (Now we understand why so many indie movies boil down to three or four characters sitting in a restaurant or an apartment.) Our actors were also our crew: “Hey, you’re not in this scene so you hold the boom mic.” We pulled together and hung in there until it was finished.

Our low aspirations have proven to be a key ingredient in the success of NBT. When you don’t expect your movie to be seen by anyone who you don’t know on a first name basis, you have a tremendous amount of freedom. We never bothered to sand down the movie’s comedic edge due to concerns over offending distributors, financiers, festival administrators or even audiences. We had only one rule: “If we think it’s funny, it’s in.”

When we were finished, we knew that we had made a smart, honest comedy. When we started screening it, we found that it really was laugh-out-loud funny as well. Nobody was more surprised than we were. Since then, NBT has taken on a life of its own, and the surprises keep coming. Festivals, great reviews, a theatrical run. Are you kidding? A couple of knuckleheads from Arizona? It’s been a fantastic ride and there’s still no better feeling than sitting in a packed theatre listening to the laughter of strangers.

So this fall our little homegrown comedy actually will open in theatres across the country. I guess it is a dream come true; it just took us a while to allow ourselves to dream that big.