BIG DREAMS, BIG SCREEN
Kelsey Tucker has been writing and acting since she was a teenager, so when the Portland-area native and Lake Oswego resident decided to ditch her law career in an attempt to make it big on the silver screen, her husband William was behind her 100 percent.
"He was the impetus, really," Tucker says. "It was hard to take myself seriously going back to acting and writing as an adult."
Five years later, Tucker is now the writer, producer and an actor in her own feature-length independent film, "The Competition," which is set to premiere in Portland on Friday, Jan. 26, in the Empirical Theater at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.
It's also available On Demand, on iTunes and Amazon Video.
"The Competition" is a romantic comedy set and filmed in Portland and Lake Oswego, starring Thora Birch ("Hocus Pocus," "Patriot Games") and Chris Klein ("American Pie").
The film follows a woman named Lauren (Birch), who — after one too many bad boyfriends — launches a blog promoting "The PIG Theory," which insists that you can enjoy everything romance has to offer, but only for six months. When you reach the "Point of Infidelity and Guilt," Lauren writes, you must break up before your mate becomes unfaithful.
When Lauren is introduced to the perfect man, Calvin (Klein), the couple decides to test her theory with a competition. Calvin will pick five friends who have been in a relationship for longer than six months, and Lauren will pick the enchantress to be their downfall. If three out of the five men cheat, Calvin must walk away. But if three out of five resist temptation, Lauren must shut down her blog and open her heart to Calvin.
"The idea for the story came in my 20s after a couple of relationships I had went wonky," Tucker says. "It was a head-scratcher for me. I didn't understand why sometimes people in loving relationships would cheat. I look at life with a wonderful sense of humor because I think you have to, so I started playing with the idea of fidelity in my head."
After shelving the project for a number of years, a screenwriter friend of Tucker's encouraged her to rewrite the story as a screenplay. So when she left her career as a lawyer to strike out as an actor once more, she soon found herself taking on the roles of writer and producer, too.
"It's my very first script, so I developed it with different writing groups and people like Dan Yost, who helped Gus Van Sant write 'Drugstore Cowboy,'" Tucker says.
Tucker's agent shopped the script around Hollywood, but the story ended up coming back to her and sat in a drawer for a number of years. She pulled it back out when she re-entered the film scene a few years later and showed it to a few friends in the Portland acting scene; together, they came up with the idea of turning the script into an independent film to be shot in the Portland area.
"It was a total wild ride, never having produced before. I kind of just fell into the producer role because I was the writer and I just wanted to make it happen," Tucker says. "People in the Portland area are very generous with their time and with up-and-comers. Many who have made movies were happy to share their ideas with me about how to make this thing successful."
The wheels began turning, connections fell into place and in 2016, Tucker's film began production. Several scenes were shot in Lake Oswego, including at The Gemini, Tucci's Ristorante and the Village on the Lake.
Several times throughout the process of shopping her script around, Tucker was told that the cast would need to be familiar faces in order to achieve the commercial success she's hoping to find. Toward that end, she landed two well-known actors in Birch and Klein.
"For the buyers to want to purchase this movie, they needed two lead actors who are known out there, particularly for the romantic comedy genre, so we adjusted our budget so we could look for two wonderful actors," Tucker says.
Leading up to the Portland premiere on Friday evening, Tucker says she's not as nervous as she was before the world premiere that took place last week at the Chandler (Arizona) International Film Festival.
"(Chandler) was my first opportunity to listen to an audience react to our movie. I gotta say, it went very well, and we were so gratified," Tucker says. "I'm optimistic for Friday's premiere."
Tucker wants the community to know she is incredibly thankful to all the people who helped make her dream a reality, particularly those who put up with production trucks and personnel taking over the streets during filming. She's also grateful to her executive producer, Scott South, who is the driving force behind Friday evening's premiere at the Empirical Theater.
"The Lake Oswego community was incredibly supportive of me and having this huge production come through that takes up a lot of space and time," Tucker says. "The Village on the Lake neighborhood, local business owners, The Gemini, Tucci's — everyone was wonderful. They were very generous with their space."
IF YOU GO
WHO: Lake Oswego writer, actor and producer Kelsey Tucker
WHAT: Portland premiere of Tucker's film, "The Competition"
WHERE: Empirical Theater at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, 1945 Water Ave., Portland
WHEN: Friday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m.