Travis Calvert

PHOTO/Brad Bynum

Reno filmmaker Travis Calvert recently won a contest that gave him the opportunity to create a short film, “The Library Book,” starring Academy Award-winning actor Adrien Brody.

What’s this contest you won?

This is a contest put on by Jameson, the Irish whiskey, and Kevin Spacey’s production company, Trigger Street Productions. They do this once a year. As Kevin Spacey says, he likes to send the elevator back down, find new talent and give them a place to learn and grow. He takes young writers and directors and gives them a start on a career. So, once a year, they put on this call—I came across it in a blog that I read called No Film School, and they said, “Hey, there’s this writing competition. You should enter, but there’s only four days left.” I was like, “Ah, man, I’ve got to get something together.” They ask you for a seven-page screenplay, knowing that if you win this competition, you go to Hollywood and you make your film with Adrien Brody as your main character. So you know who you’re writing for, which really helps. So, I wrote a seven-page screenplay.

What’s the story?

Let’s see if I can remember the logline. It’s a modest, unassuming man who’s returning an overdue book to a library. His conversation with the librarian sparks something, and there are some unexpected outcomes at the end.

So, you wrote the screenplay, sent it in. Then what happened?

And then I didn’t hear anything for like six weeks, and I kind of forgot about it. I just thought, that was a fun little exercise, good practice. And then I got a phone call from Juliette Yung from Jameson, saying, “Congratulations, you’ve been selected to the top 20 short list, and now there’s all these other things you have to do to qualify for the final round.” … They wanted a headshot. They wanted a video bio. They wanted a director’s treatment, a video explanation of that treatment, and they wanted a sample scene. They gave me two scenes to pick from that had already been written. You had to go out and cast it, film it and edit, and get it back to them in less than a week. So, I said, “OK, I’m going to do this. I’m going to hustle. I’m going to make things happen.” I got some friends together and we filmed a scene, submitted it all myself, and sent it off—again thinking, “Well, I did my best. I put it out there. I think I have something worth offering, but at this point, it’s up to them.” … And then, a couple of weeks, didn’t hear anything, and then I was actually down here in L.A. at Burgerama music festival. My wife and I were down here at a hotel … and then I got a call at 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning, and I looked at the caller ID, and it said “Ireland.” I said, “Oh, this is the call I’ve been waiting for!”

And you’ve been shooting the last couple of days?

Yes, sir. I just finished up two days of shooting yesterday. We had a week of pre-production time where we do all of our location scouting. Meet with wardrobe, meet with props. Make decisions on all that. Meet with my DP that I shot with, devise a schedule and then shoot it for two days.

How was Adrien Brody to work with?

He was incredible—just the sweetest human being ever. He’s such an artist and very professional in the fact that when he’s there, he’s there to work. He’s dedicated to the work and he puts everything he has into it. So, in that respect, it’s a little intense, because he’s just so on top of it and just incredible.

When and where can people see this?

There will be a premiere down here in LA somewhere. Jameson rents out a theater. There are three films that are being made this year. Every year there’s three. One from America, one from South Africa, and one from Canada this year. So, that happens in late June. They do the premiere, and then shortly after that, it gets put up on YouTube.

Did you meet Kevin Spacey?

I just met him today, as a matter of fact.