If you enjoy comedy, fantasy, and education, you will enjoy “A Hobbit and a Hurricane,” a locally made film. The screening will be on Oct. 8 at the Art House in Eugene. This movie is part of a science education program that’s part of a YouTube series called “Hey! Learn This!” This series aims to teach people things through entertaining narrative movies that Delta Ponds Productions dubs “edutainment.”
In this film, a major hurricane is headed toward Charleston, S.C. A TV meteorologist informs the state governor about a hobbit who might be able to prevent this disaster from striking with his “special ability.”
Mike Schwab, the director and producer of the movie, says, “I’ve always loved creating comedic content, and I have a background in meteorology; it was great to be able to combine those two interests of mine into a fun narrative story.” A fun note about Schwab is that he also plays a meteorologist in the movie. “This movie has been a collaborative effort among numerous individuals with great attitudes, so I’m excited to show everyone who helped make it happen. It was an ambitious project that involved chemistry experiments and traveling to the coast and Cascades, and it was all worth it.”
Schwab has a background in science education, teaching at Astrocamp and the Science Education Center. He previously created many comedy sketches for the open-mic theater group No Shame Eugene. He turned some of these sketches into films with Community TV Station of Lane County and started entering film competitions. Since that time, he has won awards with 2019 Eugene Film Society’s 72-hour Horror Film Competition and the 2021 Eugene Laff Off Comedic Video Competition. Schwab’s work was selected for the Oregon Short Film Festival, the Oregon Screams Horror Film Festival, the Step Into Theater Contest, and in 2022 one of his plays was selected for the World Athletics Championships entertainment stage.
As someone who writes both humor and horror myself, I know that there is a fine line between the two genres. Both rely on the unexpected – so it isn’t surprising that a writer and director of horror might also have a love for humor – and excel at it. Anyone familiar with Schwab’s skits from No Shame Eugene, many of which are available on Youtube, will know he has a track record in this area, as if his contest winnings aren’t evidence enough.
Schwab isn’t the only local to participate in the project. David DeRienzo, director of photography for a “A Hobbit and a Hurricane,” and Springfield resident, says, “I got into film through my professional career as a learning & development leader, so education is very important to me, and Mike’s film teaches some fundamentals of chemistry and physics that can help children and adults alike better understand the world around them, and it does it in a very natural way that never breaks the narrative momentum.” DeRienzo is the winner of the Best Oregon Film category in the Portland Comedy Film Festival and Narrative Shorts categories at Film Slam Film Festival, the Brouhaha Film Festival and a finalist of Narrative Shorts at jellyFEST Film Festival, Season 5.
Brandy Mclaughlin, an actress in the film who graduated from Thurston High School, says, “Many of us learn in different ways and if you have someone who can capture comedy, creativity and education all at once, it’s gold. I’ve worked with Mike on many projects over the years and this one, in particularly, has been the most fun. The cast and crew who’ve come to take part in this production all bring a sense of fun and laughter to the screen.” Acting is a passion of Mclaughlin, who grew up performing many theater productions. Soon, she will be playing Sandy in the soon-to-be released film “Ordinary Heros” by Truth Pictures.
It is amazing there is so much local talent involved in this project. If you miss the screening, the film will be available on YouTube and Delta Ponds Productions’ website.