CLEVELAND — Success doesn’t always happen overnight and for Eric Swinderman, it has taken years. The filmmaker says he and his co-writer Carmen DeFranco finished writing the script for their new film called "The Enormity of Life" in 2015.
“The movie was a long time in the making,” Swinderman explained. “I’d be sitting in my office just writing probably half of the script at channel 5.”
The enormity of life premieres on Tuesday, April 6 on Apple TV, Google Play, FandagoNow and Vimeo On Demand.
A story with no feelings
Swinderman says the film is a mix of comedy and tragedy.
“This is something like nobody ever has ever seen before...I mean, literally, we go from the funniest scene in the movie to the most tragic scene in the movie with an edit. I think that was a big risk for us because a lot of distributors said we're not sure how to sell this movie.”
Actor Breckin Meyer plays a man struggling with depression and bipolar disorder while also coping with childhood trauma. Eventually, he’s forced to choose between life and death.
“At the darkest moment of his life, he meets this wonderful girl and her amazing young daughter, and they sort of go on this journey of healing and discovery,” Swinderman said.
The amazing daughter Swinderman referred to goes by the name of Jules, played by Gisele Eisenberg. The 14-year-old star is current cast member on ABC’s American Housewife and the movie "Danny Collins" with Al Pacino and Jennifer Gardner.
However, despite her acting experience, she admits the role of Jules was challenging to portray.
“She has some problems, she feels very alone in life,” Eisenberg said. “She's very scared by the idea of school shootings, which was really hard to come to terms with as an actor because unfortunately, that's a very real thing that people in my generation have to worry about.”
It’s a storyline reflecting reality.
Swinderman says the Parkland Shooting happened while the script for The Enormity of Life was being written.
“Those social issues started to become more relevant and more poignant. And we realized that our script was becoming much more relevant by the day and so the natural inclination was to continue on that path, but not be exploitive,” Swinderman said. “So many of us have been affected by gun violence or bipolar disorder or suicide or any of those things and we don't really talk about it.”
Shooting in Cleveland
The crew behind the "Enormity of Life" spent about a month filming in Cleveland, Lakewood, Middleburg Heights, Beachwood, Elyria, Lorain and New Philadelphia, Ohio where Swinderman is originally from.
The film features locations like University Hospitals, a Lakewood City School and various resident homes.
“Ninety percent of the cast and crew of this movie are from northeast Ohio and so you're not just supporting a movie. You're supporting an entire community of people who have chosen to stay here, have chosen not to go out west and do this, but to try to do it here,” said Swinderman.
Swinderman, who has lived in Cleveland since college and worked at News 5 in the promotions department, says filming movies here is his way of paying it forward.
Someone gave me this opportunity to open a lot of doors that, quite frankly, a lot of filmmakers don't have. It was mor luck than anything, so this is me trying to meet those people where they are.”
Cleveland’s own red carpet
A public screening of "The Enormity of Life" will be held at Atlas Cinemas in Euclid on April 6. The film’s stars will join the party after the screening through a live virtual Q&A session. There will also be a live performance by the local band, By Light We Loom. In addition, each guest will get a free CLE Clothing t-shirt and movie poster.
Seats will be limited to ensure social distancing. You can purchase tickets for $60, here.