By Ariel Delgado
Exposé is an award-winning short film written in collaboration between two Hollywood hyphenates.
Playwright-screenplay-and storyteller Ann Convery wrote the film, which was directed by director-writer-editor, John Webb.
Originally written as a play, Exposé premiered theatrically in Los Angeles at Theatre68.
The film, which stars Virginia Schneider, Abby Relic, James Elden, and Pyar Anderson, centers around two married couples. A wine-soaked night leads to a twisted reboot of "Truth or Dare," an insidious game with a secret that could upend their lives.
We sat down with Ann and John to discuss the circuitous route that Exposé took from concept to play to film, and where the project goes from here.
Have you always written plays?
Ann: Years ago, I wrote two non-fiction books for Harper Collins. One was an astrological sex guide, which I published under another name so my mother wouldn't read the advice I was giving.
My first play, Shoofly, was produced and published at the P.L.A.Y. NOIR festival in Los Angeles. I was asked to write a play for a festival at Theatre 68 in Noho, and Exposé came to mind. I heard the first line and became obsessed. I wrote the first draft in ten days.
Exposé is about four smart, funny friends who keep secrets that could destroy their lives. So far, no one has guessed the real shocker. People say it reminds them of films like Closer, (with Natalie Portman, Jude Law and Clive Owen) Your Friends and Neighbors or Friends with Money.
What drew you to this project?
John: Quite simply, when I first read Ann's fabulous play, I could hear the rhythm of the scenes playing out in my head with the actors.
I was initially approached about editing the film by producer and star Virginia Schneider, whose brilliantly vulnerable performance as Angie really powers this film. But when I read Ann's dialogue, I told Virginia she had to let me direct it as well.
When we started rehearsing with the rest of the stellar cast, the editor in my head started showing me how the film would be pieced together trying to capture the terrific energy from the actors, and I knew it would work.
Exposé was originally a play; how did it go from play to film?
Ann: Miracles. After two nights onstage at Theater 68, Virginia said, "Do I have your permission to turn this into a film?" I said "Sure, why not?" I had no clue that she was a seasoned producer.
In true Hollywood fashion, Virginia ran into John's wife, Shannon, at a baby shower. Virginia mentioned she was looking for an editor. Shannon said, "Send the script to my husband." A week later, John's response was. "I'd like to edit - and direct."
Our second miracle happened when John brought his two buddies on board, top-drawer professionals who just happened to have all their own camera equipment.
Our third miracle occurred when Anthony Mora stepped in as executive producer. Three months later, we shot Exposé on a larger set with a 180-degree view of L.A. and a Porsche - on the only weekend that everyone was available.
How long was the shoot?
John: We shot the film over two nights during the Covid-19 lockdown, and it was the first production for any of us under the Covid protocols, but thanks to master cinematographers Bryan Hoodenpyle and Paul Marschall, and audio engineer Matt Lucchesi, we had a safe and terrific production set.
And boy did our cast deliver some classic performances. The whole, intimate experience was truly a joy for everyone involved.
Was the transition from play to film difficult?
John: Virginia, Abby, James and Pyar had performed Ann's play previously, so they were pretty locked-in on their characters, which was an enormous advantage for the efficiency of our small crew.
Ann and I made a couple of minor adjustments to the script to make it more cinema-friendly, such as opening the film with a tease of the final climax.
What did you like best about the filming?
Ann: Two things: we had so much fun, and I was stunned at the level of talent. Exposé is elegant, whip-smart, and fast-paced, thanks to John. It's gorgeous thanks to Hoody and Paul, and Matt gave us perfect sound.
Virginia, James, Abby and Pyar delivered amazing performances on stage. But in the film, they found places I hadn't imagined. They blew me away.
Expose has powerful, contrasting rhythms. Can you talk about that?
John: Anthony provided us with a perfect location (not to mention a vintage Porsche!), the beauty of which perfectly contrasts with the raw emotion of the story.
After the shoot, I knew I wanted a musical score with enough kinetic energy to compliment the editing style. So, I contacted an old friend, Atlanta-based jazz drummer Bryan Motley, who not only composed an inspired score but performed it as well.
What would you like the audience to take away from watching the film?
Ann: What happens when you love and are deeply loved by someone who has a secret, hidden life? Everyone has to find their own answer to that.
Are there any plans to make Exposé into a feature?
John: Our goal initially was to make a film that showcased the incredible talents of the cast members. But we had so much fun, and the film turned out so well that yes, of course, we would love to continue to explore the journey of these characters in a feature film.
What other projects are you working on?
Ann: Currently, turning a noir play into a screenplay and finishing a book of short stories.
What is the status of the film right now?
John: Ann wrote a full-length script full of twists, turns and shocks. Right now, we are just starting to submit the short to film festivals everywhere, which is still the best way for the films to gain exposure.
Learn more at: http://expose-film.com.
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