Waiting for Waiting 

Filming wraps on Norman Waiting

The last Idaho-made meteor to smash onto movie screens and explode was Napoleon Dynamite. Boise filmmaker Travis Swartz is hoping to keep the Idaho-film shower going with his work-in-progress, Norman Waiting.

Just to get it out of the way, "Waiting" isn't Norman's last name; it's what he's doing. But more on the plot later. First let's focus on the filmmaker himself.

Before Norman wrapped filming last week, Swartz was already an accomplished and notable filmmaker, with two successful independent films under his belt: Waking in Bangladesh and Most Funniest, both of which screened locally at the Flicks, among other places.

Norman Waiting is a departure from Swartz's past projects; not only is it a different kind of film conceptually, it is also being created with a completely different kind of process than Swartz employed on his earlier films. In other words, this is going to be bigger.

"It's a little larger scale than the others," Swartz says modestly while on the telephone from a fishing vacation in Sun Valley. "With this, I'm bringing on a much larger crew and a longer process in terms of pre-production, and we built the set ... you know, we're working with a cinematographer and working with a bigger crew and taking a lot of time to preplan every little thing."

Swartz is particularly mum about the plot—probably because he's nervous about giving away too much story since the film hasn't yet begun its editing and final production processes—although he is clearly excited about his work and the opportunity that Norman offers in terms of upping the scale of his accomplishments.

Swartz is hoping for more success, broader appeal and greater exposure with this film, but don't expect him to get all Hollywood-pompous; he's just a normal guy. That's probably because he's a Boise boy, born and raised. And even though Boise's filmmaking scene isn't Hollywood, he likes it here just fine.

His career began after high school as an apprentice with the Shakespeare Festival. He then moved to upstate New York to do more theater, but his work there required a lot of moving around, which Swartz didn't enjoy. So he made a decision to get into film and started writing and doing local commercial work.

"With the advent of digital video, I was finally able to afford experimenting with movies," he says. And the scope of his work moved up steadily from the early commercials to the improvised film Most Funniest to regular mainstream movie making.

Thus, we arrive at Norman Waiting, a comedy about love, existentially. Even though the story really doesn't finalize until the preproduction editing stage scheduled to begin this week, Swartz does reveal a synopsis of the movie: One night in a Western-themed Italian restaurant, Norman Taylor proposes to his girlfriend Kristie. She accepts, but instead of being glad, he's dismayed by the absence of the supernatural moment he expected to experience upon her acceptance (there were no doves, no angels sighing). Norman then reconsiders whether they are truly meant to be. Apparently musical numbers pepper the script as eclectic characters intervene to help Norman recognize that love reveals itself in unexpected ways at unexpected times.

Most of the film was shot in Boise but "the cast is a real mix," Swartz says of where he wrangled the actors. He brought in one main actor from New York and another from Los Angeles, but the crew, the producers and other cast members are all local talent.

To Swartz, selecting the cast and crew is critical to the overall experience and not just the end result because it's a process of how to relate to people.

"I do believe that it's important. As we try to grow an industry, it's important to bring people in from the outside world," he says, not at all defensive. "There's a much larger pool of talent outside our area. If you can mix it that's the best."

But Idaho is at the core of Swartz's filmmaking, even if the film's story isn't apparently about Idaho. This is Swartz's home, it interests him and it's where he wants to live. "Any story I write has something, even subconsciously, built in," he says. "The effect of Boise on me sparks the stories I end up telling and writing. This environment created me."

Post production, which begins this week, will continue through the fall to finish the film. Swartz hopes that by September or October, he'll be ready to submit Norman to festivals. "We'll potentially show a work in progress at the True West Cinema Fest (which is in August)," he cautions. "But that's not the true film."

When it's all ready, Swartz intends to show it at the Flicks, as he always does with his films. "That's the venue of choice," he says, in true Boise filmmaker form.

For more information on Norman Waiting, visit www.normanwaiting.com.

Questions? Comments? E-mail screen@boiseweekly.com.

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