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Los Feliz gastropub Messhall Kitchen has a new (and Hollywood-approved) item on its menu this November: a film festival.
It’s one that couldn’t happen anywhere else. The fest features eight short films, all of which were produced and filmed entirely at Messhall over an eight week period, accomplished by talent that is either on staff or frequently seated at restaurant tables.
Messhall server Jon Bangle and bartender Andrew Pack, both creative multi-hyphenates in their own right, conceived of the fest after surveying the scene and noting the potential of its talent pool. Their plan was met with overwhelming interest and they were able to produce the shorts (seven comedies and one drama) over an eight-week period by leaning into overnight shoots when Messhall was closed. Add to that small crews and no budgets, which seems like an insurmountable task but impossible became possible in large part thanks to those regulars.
They recruited industry insiders New Girl scribe Berkley Johnson, Team Coco insider Aaron Bleyaert and veteran cinematographer Charles Papert (Key and Peele), among others, to bring it across the finish line.
“Absolutely blown away,” Bangle says when asked how the films turned out. “Andrew and I were like, ‘Hey, we’ll do this thing and hopefully it will be good. It’s their job to make [the films] great and everybody brought their A-game and delivered. Ecstatic is maybe the best word that even comes close to describing the feeling. This doesn’t happen without the community Messhall has built. There were a lot of yeses that we needed to make this happen and they just kept on coming.”
The Messhall Film Festival debuted during a private, invitation-only event on Nov. 9, with public showings planned for Nov. 14, 16, 28 and 30. To celebrate the inaugural event, a special “MHFF Menu” will be available during the showings, featuring food and drink specials. Messhall also occupies a place in Hollywood history. Located at 4500 Los Feliz Blvd., the building was once home to the iconic Brown Derby restaurant (featured in the 1996 movie Swingers) owned by legendary director Cecil B. DeMille.
The short films include Bromance is Dead, directed by Pack and Kevin Steele with a script by Steele; The Other Side of Ranch, written and directed by Cristi Rumpza; Why the Long Face, written and directed by Rebecca Munley; Last Supper, directed by Neal Tyler from a script by Thunder Conway; Bar None, directed by Papert from a script by Raven Moran; Batanga, written and directed by Aaron Bleyaert, Kat’s Coasters, directed by Maria Burton from a script by Berkley Johnson; and Last Call, directed by Kalif Fuller from a script by Thunder Conway.
“We’re all familiar with the uniquely L.A. trope about a restaurant server hoping to be ‘discovered’ while waiting on a producer or director, but these brilliant fellas broke down the typical divide and brought regulars and staff together on a series of joyous, delirious overnights of collaborative filmmaking,” offered Papert. “I’ve been a regular at Messhall from the start, but participating in this festival has really fed my love for the venue and the people who work there.”
This story first appeared in the Nov. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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