Posted: 09/14/2010


Shine, Baby, Shine

by Del Harvey

A low budget comedy of personas and perceptions.

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Making a low budget film can be an appalling burden. Making a no budget film can be a ball breaker. And both of them require commitment of the heart and soul.

Chicago area actor filmmaker David Holcombe crafted this particular labor of love along with friend and film’s director/co-producer/editor/writer Chris Emmons, a bittersweet story of a seeker of fame and fortune.

Here’s the synopsis:

After years of experimentation, the tenacious Scooter Thompson (David Holcombe) has just perfected his all-in-one hair care product, Shine Baby Shine. Naively embarking on a self-financed marketing campaign, Scooter hopes to change the way the world manages and cares for their hair. A chance encounter with Bob (Michael Sugarman), the owner of a beauty products company, seems to be just the break Scooter needs. However, this partnership comes with one very person condition: Scooter must seduce his daughter, Catalina (Claudia Di Biccari), and get her to leave her 18-year old boyfriend.

Meanwhile, Scooter’s relationship with his best friend, Otis (Theresa Neef), is thrown out of equilibrium when she reveals her true feelings for him. Vulnerable and confused, Scooter agrees to audition for a nationally televised reality show competition. He is accepted as a contestant along with his rival, Randy (Richard Pontillo).

Now with Scooter’s lifelong dream on the line, he must defend a personal integrity that has always been a source of pride. Shine Baby Shine!

Like all non-budget independent films, Shine Baby Shine has its own personal quirks. The lack of adequate lighting is apparent throughout the film. At times there are glitches in makeup and continuity. But these are minor when we consider the quality and the art that went into such an effort. Ultimately, what we remember are the performances and the spirit underlying every frame of this little gem.

The stand-outs are Theresa Neef as Scooter’s assistant Otis, a cute and devoted friend who understands this lost soul if anyone does. Tierza Scaccia is great as the typical TV talk and scandal host, Cathy, so focused on uncovering her guest’s secrets that she does not realize how shallow that makes her look to her own audience. Bill Stoneking as reality TV show host Barry O’Brien has natural talents which help elevate SBS at times and give it the kind of polish and gloss that much higher budgeted rival films would have. And David Holcombe gives a very strong, funny, and at times poignant turn as our leading man, Scooter, who does not realize how funny his naivety can be.

Although the film is firmly tongue-in-cheek from start to finish, the resolution may surprise you for its depth and maturity. The changes which Scooter and Otis go through in the process of struggling for fame and fortune take their toll, but in a very surprising way.

Still seeking distribution at the time of this review, Shine Baby Shine should be appearing on the festival circuit soon. In the meantime, you can check out a trailer and find out more about the film and the talents behind it by clicking here.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.

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