Weekend preview: A Playmate and the last word on Sharknado (we think)

The making of the South Florida-filmed movie “Taste It: A Comedy About the Recession” had its share of rookie moments, like when the film crew debated the offer of a featured actor, a Playboy Playmate, to go topless for one scene. She lost.

But it is the unexpected, the awkward and the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants creativity involved in low-budget filmmaking that will be celebrated when “Taste It” is shown at Local Filmmakers Night on Saturday at Cinema Paradiso (503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale). The 10 p.m. screening will be followed by a Q&A with the director, Zack Weil, producers and local cast members, including Adam Chefitz, Andres LeFevre, Mike Benitez, Sharon Pfeiffer and Mike Kennedy.

For Greg von Hausch, president of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, which operates Cinema Paradiso, the goal of Local Filmmakers Nights is to “promote the Florida filmmaker, and help them improve their craft.”

Von Hausch says the experience of seeing their film in front of a live audience in a theater, facing difficult questions during the Q&A and eavesdropping on the debate between moviegoers during post-film drinks on the patio are an invaluable way for filmmakers to find out what worked and what didn’t.

“It helps you to be judgmental of yourself, which is essential,” he says.

“Taste It” was filmed in 2011, for the most part in Miami, with some scenes shot on Fort Lauderdale beach. It follows the exploits of Greg, an Ivy League whiz kid (an engaging Jon McGlothlin) in Miami's financial district, whose life comes crashing down with the recession, costing him his job, his car, his condo, his girlfriend and his self-respect. Living at home with his mom is bleak until his younger sister flies in for spring break with coed friends who seem to like to spend most of their time in swimsuits.

One of them, Francesca, tries to encourage Greg to get back on his feet by following his dream to be a chef. She is played by newcomer Francesca Frigo, a Miami resident and Playboy’s Miss August 2010.

Weil, a Miami native, says the idea came to him after a post-Cornell year spent working as a film intern in New York, and before he started pursuing his law degree from FIU. Weil admits the story, written with his buddy Chevitz, as “some Van Wilder” to it, but believes audiences will find more to like.

“I think it can reach a pretty broad audience, but the target is probably 18 to 35, mostly guys,” Weil says. “There is a nice mix of lowbrow and highbrow humor. There will be stuff that surprises, which keeps moving the story forward. Everyone struggled in their 20s, and there is a sentimental aspect to it.”

The Local Filmmakers Night is critical for a low-budget indie film’s success, Weil says. “Everything has to be grassroots,” he says. “I hope the audience shows up, and can meet us and meet the actors and make a personal connection with us, and spread the fire that way.”

“Taste It,” available via Amazon, got more grassroots publicity last year when Frigo’s involvement was acknowledged in Playboy.

Frigo has lived in Miami since moving from Puerto de la Cruz, Venezuela, as a 16-year-old about a decade ago. With a degree in fashion merchandising from the Art Institute of Miami, she had no interest in modeling when she was approached by a Playboy photographer on Lincoln Road. Frigo did the one shoot for the 2010 issue, and while she loves the access the Playmate designation gives her, she’s anxious to branch out into acting.

Frigo didn’t know what to expect from her first role, in “Taste It,” and was trying to be professional when the script asked for her to sit topless on McGlothlin’s chest. Before Frigo could remove her shirt, a lengthy discussion ensued as the crew looked for something to cover her nipples.

“I told them, ‘It’s OK guys. I’m not shy. I’ve been in Playboy.’ But they said, ‘No, we don’t want to see,’ “ Frigo says, laughing. They finally settled on some kind of medical tape. “It kind of hurt my feelings,” says Frigo, who, unfortunately, will be out of town Saturday night.

“Taste It” will screen at 10 p.m. Saturday. Tickets: $10, $8 seniors and students, $6 FLIFF members. Info: 954-525-3456, FLIFF.com; Facebook.com/TasteItTheMovie

SOCIAL MIXED MEDIA
As many of us whistle past the graveyard being readied for the interment of the American working class, this would be a fine time to stop and witness the beautiful reportage of Overtown painter Purvis Young, who spent four decades chronicling the social disintegration he witnessed until his death in 2010. The poetry and vitality of the “outsider” artist, who made prolific use of discarded objects, is recalled in “Purvis Young: Works From the Collection,” which opened last weekend at the Boca Raton Museum of Art (501 Plaza Real in Mizner Park). Info: 561-392-2500, BocaMuseum.org.

'SHARKNADO' BLOWS UP
The irresistibly bad “Sharknado” (which set another Syfy channel record for viewership in its third broadcast last weekend) will make an unlikely leap to the big screen with midnight showings in Regal theaters across the country on Friday night. Starring Ian Ziering of “90210” fame, Cassie Scerbo (formerly of Parkland), Tara Reid and John Heard, “Sharknado” will screen locally at these theaters: Regal Cypress Creek Station Stadium 16, Fort Lauderdale; Regal Magnolia Place Stadium 16, Coral Springs; Regal Royal Palm Beach Stadium 18; Regal Sawgrass Stadium 23, Sunrise; Regal Shadowood 16, Boca Raton; Regal South Beach Stadium 18, Miami Beach; UA Falls 12, Miami. Tickets will cost $12.50. More info: RegMovies.com.

GOODIE FOR YOU
Before there was Cee-Lo Green there was Goodie Mob. The TV personality and pitchman has reunited with Big Gipp, Khujo and T-Mo in a reconstituted Goodie Mob, which is touring in support of the album “Age Against The Machine" (out Aug. 27). The quartet will hit South Florida Sept. 8 for a PopLife show with adventurous Cali rap trio Drop City Yacht Club at Grand Central (697 N. Miami Ave., Miami). Tickets are $20 advance, $25 day of show. Info: 305-377-2277, GrandCentralMiami.com.