Friends Don’t Let Friends-Date Friends

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Rhonda Parker has been making films since she was 17 years old, but much of her life is invested in a full-length feature she’s just completed as part of an Honors Program project at Genesee Community College. The movie, “Friends Don’t Let Friends – Date Friends” will debut at a VIP dinner and a movie night at the Bald Eagle Bistro, 1033 S. Lakeland Beach Rd. in Kendall on Friday, November 7, 2014 at 7 pm. Seating is limited to 50. Presale tickets are $25 and, if there’s room, $30 at the door. Tickets are available on the movie’s website, www.friendsdontletfriendsdatefriends.com, at which you can also view a trailer of the romantic comedy.

Parker is a paralegal and communications/media arts student at GCC. She expects to graduate in December 2014. Besides being an Honors Program student, she’s been a blogger for the College and also won an essay contest sponsored by The Historical Society of the New York Courts, about which Professor Charles Scruggs said “Her acerbic wit, frequently on display in class, is used to good effect in her written work.”

That wit is evident in “Friends…” which Parker describes as a “highly fictionalized account of actual events.” The main character, played by former GCC student Amelia Favata of Canandaigua, is a version of Parker herself. “It’s a very timeless story based on people I hung out with in my youth. It’s been in my head for 20 years. I started writing it 15 years ago and have revised it several times. Seven years ago it went through a peer review on [Francis Ford Coppola’s] Zoetrope.com.” So far, test audiences have enjoyed it. “One friend said of the film ‘I had forgotten…that’s what it feels like to fall in love.’”

Though Parker has written and produced a number of short films, and appeared as a “Walmart mom” in a commercial, this is the first time she held auditions for a movie. “It broke my heart to turn people away,” she said. Several current and former GCC students appear in the film. They shot the film over seven weekends at locations in and around Parker’s hometown of Albion. Because it is an Honors Program project, she was able to utilize equipment from GCC including camera, tripod, and lights.

Her husband, Mark Parker, completed editing the film at their home with Sony Vegas Pro software. “He’s the editor and I’m the editor-in-chief,” Parker explains. “He’s the doer, and I’m the thinker.”

Parker has been thinking a lot about how to get the word out about her film. “My goal is to have everyone in America see this movie,” she said. Beyond the dinner and a movie debut, she has lined up a number of additional screenings.

GCC Video/Telecommunications Director Barry Chow, with whom Parker completed an independent study, is sponsoring a show in the Stuart Steiner Theatre at GCC on Sunday, November 9, 2014 at 2:45 pm with a reception to follow. General admission is $8; students and seniors, $6.

The Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival will show the film at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014 at the Eastern Hills Cinema in Williamsville. Several other screenings are planned in Medina, Amherst, and Batavia. Check the film’s facebook page for more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/558510764281947/.

The Honors Program at GCC encourages independent, creative, and interdisciplinary study through academic work of depth, originality, and quality. Parker is more than pleased with her Honors experience and the film overall. “It’s like watching your dreams come true right in front of your eyes,” she said. She hopes the film’s success leads to more moviemaking for her. “That’s exactly what I want to do. I have a lot of scripts in my head.”

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