By Jeremy Evans

Gorman Bechard is offering movie buffs visiting the Hell's Half Mile Film and & Music Festival this month an unusual treat: A chance to see a real movie scene staged and shot before their eyes.

This is just another artistic experiment for an artist whose career has followed an adventurous and somewhat eccentric trajectory for the past quarter century, encompassing features, documentaries, shorts and even novels. Bechard plans to shoot the final scene of his current production, Broken Side of Time, in Bay City at a special festival panel on Friday, September 30. But that's not all: Bechard will also screen a rough cut of the first 30 minutes of the film for festival goers on Sunday (dates subject to change; please consult the festival calendar).

“I don't know of anyone who's done something like this—actually shooting scenes of a film for a film festival audience,” said Bechard.

Bechard will be be at the festival for the Michigan debut of his new rock documentary, Color Me Obsessed, a film tagged as the “potentially true” story of 1980s rock heroes The Replacements.

This is Bechard's second visit to the festival. In 2009, Bechard won the “Fest Best” award for his previous film, Friends (With Benefits). He says he is eager to return.

“I loved the Hell's Half Mile Festival,” Bechard said. “It is perfectly run. Just film lover's heaven. Alan [LaFave, the festival director] has great taste in programming.” Bechard laughed, then added: “And I'm not just saying that because I won two years ago.”

Like Hell's Half Mile itself, Bechard's career has been full of personal, independent (and somewhat off-beat) fare. His first features, made shortly after college, were tongue-in-cheek genre homages called Psychos in Love and Galactic Gigolo. In the 1990s, Bechard turned to short story and novel writing, including thrillers and mysteries, though his first novel was something else altogether. The Second Greatest Story Ever Told is a comedy of the Second Coming—in which God sends not His son but a daughter to earth to save the planet. Naturally for Bechard, she's a huge Replacements fan.

Since then Bechard's published four more novels, completed many shorts (including some for the Humane Society of the United States), and a few features. Right now he is producing three films at once: Pizza, A Love Story (an ode to New Haven brick oven pizza); a thriller, One Night Stand; and the film that will be shooting at Hell's Half Mile, the gritty Broken Side of Time.

“It's a full-time job for sure,” Bechard said of his heavy production and festival-touring schedule. Though being a fiercely independent filmmaker does not equal movie star riches, Bechard said he wouldn't have it any other way. “If you get into movies to make millions, get out,” he said. “This is about telling stories and reaching out to your audience.”

© Jeremy Evans, 2011