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San Diego Film Selected for Screening at Cannes

"The Heiress Lethal" leaves no straight line nor dime novel detective metaphor untouched


The Heiress Lethal
Courtesy Photo

It’s the classic whodunit: an ancient billionaire and his mistress are murdered in cold blood. All evidence points to the dead man’s trophy wife, a hot young femme fatale named Veronica who has legs so long, as the opening narrator says, they take up three pages of a calendar.

But the mistress is a sock puppet, the private eye hired to crack the case talks out loud to himself, and the femme fatale is flatulent. Why flatulent? Because Big Daddy banked his billions by selling the musical fruit.

My Willy wasn’t a baker,” Veronica tells police interrogators. He was in the bean business. And the bean business (insert rude but very funny sound effect here) was good.”

Mel Brooks? Nope. It’s The Heiress Lethal, a San Diego film noire comedy that swept the 48 Hour Film Project awards last July, taking Best Film, Best Directing, Best Acting, and Best Cinematography.

And this year, the film is going to Cannes by invitation where it will be screened as part of the 2011 International Film Festival.

Mike Brueggemeyer, a San Diego-based television commercial producer is the film’s director. “The 48 Hour Film Project sponsors a screening at Cannes every year. Our film won the San Diego competition in July, which means it’s automatically entered into the international competition, called Filmapalooza, which took place a month ago in Miami.” Out of 3,000 entries, he says The Heiress Lethalwas selected to appear on a 16-film Best of 2010 contest DVD.

Aside from the film industry stamp-of-approval that Cannes represents, the other benefit of going, says Brueggemeyer, 47, is exposure. It’s the largest film market in the world. It’s the place where you make deals to buy films, sell films, and get films made.” He hopes to land financing enough to turn the short film into a full-length feature.

The 48 Hour Film Project itself is possibly a good training ground for the pressure cooker that is Hollywood. Brueggemeyer explains: “You pick a genre out of a hat, and then they assign you a character, a line of dialogue, and a prop.”That’s it. With only those three elements, the production team (including producer Tony Mingee and cinematographer Bill Bork) went to work.“By about ten o’clock on a Friday night we had a plot, and by 2am,” he says,“we had a script.”

It was screenwriter Marianne Bates who created the gas-passing bombshell’s character. At first Cristyn Chandler, who plays Veronica, was dubious.

“She thought the script was just not funny,” says Brueggemeyer. “She thought it was gross. She thought nobody would laugh.” But laugh they did. And no, says Bruegemmeyer. Chandler did not provide her own sound effects.

In anticipation of the potential full-length version, will we see the sock puppet assuming a stronger role? “No,” says Brueggemeyer. “But we’re going to see the rivalry. We’re going to have a scene where Veronica bursts in and catches them in the act.”

As for the rest of the story, he says we’ll have to be patient.