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by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.  [April 15, 2007]





[]  When writer/director J. Neil Schulman wondered how audiences might perceive his new anti-terrorist, action-comedy, Lady Magdalene's, he test screened it at the NRA on April 12, in the banquet room of the Culver City Denny's.

"I'm a past president of this chapter," said Schulman. "So I was invited to screen Lady Magdalene's. It's our first chance to show the film to non-industry people in a no pressure environment, so I grabbed the opportunity."

Lady Magdalene's -- starring Star Trek's Nichelle NichoIs -- is about a man who's fired from the Air Marshall service for profiling an Arab as a terrorist (which Senators regard as "politically incorrect"), who returns to the IRS and is assigned to a Nevada brothel in tax receivership -- only to discover that the brothel is a focal point for Al Qaeda.

Lady Magdalene's has action, comedy, and song-and-dance interludes, some of them performed by Nichols. Yet distributors like to pigeonhole films, so Schulman distributed questionnaires to his appreciative audience, and asked them how they perceived the film's genre. "I'll be looking at their comments for an idea of how to market the film," said Schulman. "Who likes it, who doesn't. I'll shape the marketing accordingly."

Like other indie filmmakers, Schulman engages in both grassroots marketing -- and guerrilla filmmaking. "Hoover Dam refused us permission to shoot there," said Schulman, "which is why we went there stealthily. One of the security guards at the dam saw our cameramen with the camera on his shoulder. The guard asked if we were shooting professionally. I said, 'No, just home movies. Which was absolutely true. It was my camera. We did it before principal photography, so I had no contract with the corporation producing the movie to give them any footage. At that point, it was a home movie."

As an inside joke, Schulman includes a scene in his film where his character (he plays the role of a terrorist) waves at the camera while standing at the dam. "That was basically me acknowledging, you guys didn't get me."



Despite his heroic portrayal of law enforcement, Schulman was poorly treated by the government. "We come along with a movie in which the feds are the good guys, and the Department of Homeland Security would not give us any cooperation. We went to the FBI building [in Nevada] to get some exteriors on a Sunday, when the place is closed. They sent out a security guard to try to arrest us. We have it on film. That will probably be part of the DVD extras."

Ironically, Schulman's experience with the FBI mirrors that of actress Rosario Dawson, who actually was arrested by NYPD along with other actors while filming the anti-government This Revolution during the August 2004 anti-GOP protest. Dawson was arrested for wearing a mask, in violation of New York's anti-mask law. Her arrest by the NYPD is likewise part of This Revolution's DVD extras.

Even so, Schulman denies making a political statement with Lady Magdalene's. "There is very little politically correct about Lady Magdalene's," he acknowledges, yet at the same time, "I was trying to skate as near the edge as possible, without making the film unsaleable. Anyone finding a political message in this film is just out to make trouble."

Right now Schulman is busy submitting Lady Magdalene's to festivals. "I'm going to be resubmitting the new [117 minute] cut. A lot of festivals are looking at an older [140 minute] cut. The festivals that still have time to look at the new cut, I will send that to them. I'm going to be making a bunch of new submissions for the second half of 2007 with the new cut."

Copyright 2007 by


J. Neil Schulman has written for the Investigator about Scott Peterson's possible innocence and libertarian science fiction icon Samuel E. Konkin III. He has spoken to the Weekly Universe about his 'Vulcan mind-meld with God' and a miracle cure for cataracts. His film has a website at: LadyMadgalene' He may be contacted at:


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