Laughter for the ages

Northeast resident Michael Kelberg directs and stars in a comedic short film about the stress of getting older.

Lights, camera, action: Actor and producer Michael Kelberg, of Philmont Heights, plays Calvin in his short-film, You Got Ma’amed. His wife in the film, played by Katie McCarty, is called ma’am and he can’t quite grasp why she is upset.

By Sean Devlin

Recently, under the shade of thick branches and cozied in a Voorhees, New Jersey cul-de-sac, sat a head-tilting site: a home with a well-kept yard and an appealing brick facade but with windows covered by black trash bags and too many cars parked awkwardly in the circular road.

At one point, a man with a catering tray knocked on the front door and was met by another with a tie draped over his shoulders and a cameraman peering out past the frame.

Inside cameras and light fixtures were situated throughout the home while more than 12 people milled about, all apparently appointed to different tasks. On the kitchen counter amid trays of hoagies and vegetables sat an eight-page document. On the center of the cover: “You Got Ma’amed, By Michael Kelberg.”

A short-film comedy shot in Voorhees will be sent out to as many film festivals as possible, explained Kelberg, the director and actor from Philmont Heights.

Kelberg has run Blueye Productions for more than 20 years shooting videos for entertainment and marketing purposes. However, this film and The Lavatory, another comedy, are meant to be hilarious and thought-provoking.

In eight minutes, this film attempts to showcase the psyche of a woman who has, maybe for the first time, been addressed by a stranger as ma’am.

The film takes place in a small physical space — from the parked car outside to the front foyer of a married couple’s home. An argument ensues after Kate, played by Lancaster native Katie McCarty, is called ma’am, and her husband Calvin, played by Kelberg, can’t quite grasp why she is upset.

“You have no idea what it is like to be ma’amed…” she exclaims, leaving Calvin dumbfounded and flat-footed by the staircase.

“So you got ma’amed. You’re not 25 anymore,” Calvin offers back, a comment met with expletives from his wife.

While the film is shot in suburban New Jersey and spans only eight minutes, months of planning and casting in both Philadelphia and New York went into making this idea come to life.

The idea grew from a comment overheard several years ago in New York.

“We were on another set one day at another shoot, and I heard the make-up artist say, ‘Oh, I got ma’amed.’ I thought it was so funny,” he said.

Originally, Kelberg saw it as a quick clip, a funny scene of a woman’s reaction to the title. Then he kept writing until he sent a draft to his friend, Jennifer Dollinger-Woods, who thought the script had legs. She soon became a producer for the film.

Confident of the film’s message, Kelberg and Dollinger-Woods went big with casting.

McCarty, the lead female role, is no stranger to the screen. Her credits include television shows such as Law and Order and most recently she was in the film Murder At The Mansion, starring Anna Hutchison.

However, despite her larger roles, she feels short films like these are packed with purpose.

“It is lighthearted, but is something women do have to contend with,” McCarty said. She added, “I find it is something that women in general struggle with, getting older and all the societal expectations that go along with that.”

Kelberg and Dollinger-Woods sought donations to help fund the film that will be ready to send out to a multitude of film competitions come fall.

On indiegogo, a website much like GoFundMe, Kelberg outlines what the money is used for and mentions that this film, “…is funny and most people could use a good laugh, especially in today’s climate. This story is also insightful; it’s a humorous take on the sensitive issues of aging and insecurity.”

Along with tackling the topic of aging, Kelberg’s script subtly comments on the current political climate and more.

The cast includes actresses Isa Goldberg and Alexandria Benford. ••

To learn more about the film, visit blueyeproductions.biz

To donate, visit indiegogo.com/projects/you-got-ma-amed-women-drama#