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This article by Kevin L. Carter was prepared for the July 3, 2007 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
This is Not a Romantic Comedy: Todd Parker
Todd Parker is a filmmaker, and he writes, among other genres, romantic comedies. That makes sense, because his life resembles one.
Parker has been married, twice, to the same woman. He lives in East Windsor with that woman, Pamela – to whom he has been married, and then divorced, and then married again – and their two sons.
Let Parker, whose mission in life is to tell stories, tell his. "We actually met on blind date," he says. "I was renting a room from a woman who went to church with her, and she set us up on a blind date. That was the fastest date on earth, just about 45 minutes. We had fun, but I didn’t think it was any real connection. I didn’t go away thinking this was the girl I was going to marry."
But there’s a little more to the story. The two did share a passionate kiss in the restaurant parking lot, and Pamela told Parker that his kisses "made her turn to jelly."
Two weeks later, the couple went on another date, and they were married three months later, in August, 1998. Their first son, Andrew, was born the next year.
But the couple, under strain from the wedding, pregnancy, and birth, separated in early 2001, both moving into separate places but still living close by. Parker says he and his S2BX continued to speak on a frequent basis as they raised their son together, but not together.
Then Parker decided to invite Pamela to his sister’s graduation from Princeton University. "She was a friend of my sister, so it was only natural. But at this point, it was getting close to our divorce date. In fact, as it turned out, the actual date of the divorce was the same as when the graduation was. So, that morning we went to court, and that night we danced together at my sister’s graduation."
Six months later, the divorced couple moved back in together, and in October, 2004, the Parkers got remarried. That year, their son Kevin was born. "We’ve been happy ever since," says Parker, adding that his wife is extremely supportive of his filmmaking endeavors.
So, what do you tell people who ask how long you’ve been married? "That’s a good question. It depends on who we’re talking to. The legal answer, of course, is just over three years. But we have an eight-year-old son, so the math doesn’t really work so well, so we usually say we’ve been married nine years."
So in life, as in dramatic writing, there is such a thing as second and third acts. And you wonder why this guy writes and makes movies?
Parker now has a corporate job at the Hibbert Group, a marketing firm in Trenton, but he has transitioned from "aspiring filmmaker" to simply "filmmaker." Through a combination of ambition, a knack for networking, and good old-fashioned American chutzpah, the budding movie mogul is slowly but surely beginning to get things done.
The first of his many screenplays to be produced was "Claustrophobia," a detective-story short that was produced in February and had a private screening (due to the limited seating capacity of the venue) in Princeton this past April.
His next production, "The Business," will be shown the night of Wednesday, July 11, at a private location with limited seating so he is requiring registration for the public via E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Parker says he will also show a trailer for another one of his productions, "Crescendo," at the July 11 screening.
"The Business" is an NYPD Blue-style detective film about a carpenter named Adam March, who finds a mysterious note in a dresser and subsequently ends up dead. The story is told through flashbacks as detectives investigate the backgrounds and motives of the people who came in contact with March prior to his death.
Parker, 31, was born and raised in Skillman. His father, John, was a pharmaceutical industry executive who transitioned to become a venture capitalist and now sits on the board of directors for several biotechnology companies. His mother, Beverly, was a stay-at-home mom, raising Parker and his sister, Hilary. After graduating from the Hun School in 1993, Parker went to St. Lawrence University near Buffalo, graduating in 1997 with a B.A. in English.
At Hibbert, Parker is responsible for marketing pharmaceutical products. Right now, he is working on the Sanofi-Aventis sleep medicine Ambien. Given the recent news the drug has made, that must be a tough job. "Yes, there has been some controversy lately," he says.
He’d rather talk about film. "I have always had an interest in theater and drama," he says. "I had been involved in theatrical productions, some at Hun, some in college. About a year and half ago, I was recovering from back surgery, and I wanted to see if I could write a full-length romantic comedy."
So write Parker did, taking inspiration from his own life.
He had gone on a trip to Los Angeles for business, and he decided to try to meet people in the film business. He met one person who had connections in film, and that person gave Parker six names. He contacted those six and through one of those people, Parker was given the name of a producer in Montreal, which is not Hollywood but often, along with Toronto, stands in for more chic, and more expensive, U.S. locations.
That producer, Julian Ferrera of Ferrescope Productions, optioned the romantic comedy script. Meanwhile Parker had submitted another script, the detective movie short "Claustrophobia," to a New York producer who had made an online call for scripts. The producer liked it but said it was not authentic enough. So Parker interviewed two detectives extensively and incorporated their stories into his story. But the film didn’t get anywhere in New York.
Finally, a frustrated Parker, through more extensive networking, found an Atlanta-based producer who expressed interest in the project. The producer, Carl Millender of StarMaxxMedia Productions, agreed to produce the film. The two have collaborated on two shorts and are now trying to develop a television show based on the lives of Atlanta crimesolvers.
"I have always had an interest in storytelling," Parker says. "I have always written short stories, and I have always been able to envision environment and place characters within those environments. I like to be able to convey a message."
The message, at least in his crime stories, is straightforward and simple. "Good deeds prevail, and when people set out to do bad things they don’t succeed," he says. "If you can do the crime, you should be prepared to do the time."
Parker is now working on a script situated in the mid-1800s, centered around the Underground Railroad. He thinks of it as a superhero piece. "I have always had a respect for how the Underground Railroad helped so many people get to freedom," he says. "This is a recognition of their human spirit and courage and drive to succeed."
Sounds a bit like Parker himself. He says he doesn’t allow himself to think negatively. In addition to his screenplays, in various states of completion, he says he has been asked to provide input on a proposed new Disney animated series.
"From what I’ve learned about film, there are a couple of routes people can go. I could go get an agent and sit around and hope they can get me a job," he says. "I’m a very aggressive person. I’ll make all the calls I can make, and I don’t take no for an answer."
"The Business," Wednesday, July 11, registration required, E-mail email@example.com. Location details will be given to registrants. Seating is limited. Screening of new film by filmmaker Todd Parker, a Skillman native who lives in East Windsor. His first film was "Claustrophobia" and his next project is called "Crescendo."
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