Lots of people dream about making independent films. Copley resident Butch Maier has spent nearly a decade writing, producing, directing, editing—and now negotiating with the same tenacity—to get his dream distributed.
Maier’s “The Bride & The Grooms” is a romantic comedy about a woman who “accidentally gets engaged to four men at the same time.” It was inspired by his own experiences of “miscommunication with women” in his 20s, Maier says.
Born in West Virginia, Maier went to college in North Carolina. He worked at the Akron Beacon Journal, Boston Globe and St. Petersburg Times before joining The Plain Dealer. As a sports copy editor there, he has written a number of award-winning headlines, but Maier marks most of his life’s memorable moments with films.
As a young child, Maier remembers seeing the movie “Jaws,” then refusing to go into the water during a family vacation to Myrtle Beach. Fascinated that a movie could have such an impact on behavior, he has watched that film “close to a hundred times” since.
In 1998, at a high school reunion in Charleston, W.Va., Maier ran into actress Jennifer Garner who graduated a year behind him. “I’m gonna write a screen play for you one day,” he told her. Maier kept his promise.
Sydney, the “part tomboy/part ballerina” lead character/bride is based on Garner. Little did Maier know how famous she would become by the time his script was ready for her.
Maier began writing the screenplay in earnest in 2001. He shopped it around to studios trying to find a producer and rewrote it multiple times for the next few years. Finally, Maier decided to produce the film himself. To make the movie he could, Maier explains, “I had to give up the movie in my head.”
Maier held auditions, chose local actors, hired the crew and began playing “let’s make a deal” with local vendors. The Bath United Church of Christ graciously opened its sanctuary to the cast and crew after a regular Sunday service for the wedding scene. Church members who stayed after served as ‘extras.’ Vaccaro’s Trattoria, the Taverne of Richfield and West Side Bakery were among the local businesses to share food, facilities and props in exchange for exposure in the film.
The “little movie with big dreams” has commitments to run in theaters in 15 states and counting. It premieres locally on April 25 at the Highland Theatre in Akron and on April 26 at the Cedar Lee Theatre in Cleveland Heights.