by Brad Hundt
November 18, 1999
Wrestling movie is looking to pin down crowd for match
Wanna be in the movies?
Well, for Friday night at least you won’t need the talent of Meryl Streep or Robert DeNiro, the looks of Brad Pitt or Jennifer Aniston, or even an agent, a tiny cell phone, an ability to read lines, or an understanding of concepts like “key grip,” “my D.P.” or “coverage.”
And there’s no need to even drive out of the 724 area code. That’s because “Reversal,” the low-budget independent film that has been shooting scenes in the Washington area since the end of October, will be setting up shop at Washington High School Friday night for a wrestling match between the Washington and McGuffey High School teams.
James Petulla, the writer, producer and star of “Reversal,” is hoping to lure a little more than 1,000 people to the high school for the shoot, which is one of the final scenes they are scheduled to shoot in Washington before an anticipated wrap-up this weekend.
No, cheering in the stands probably won’t land you on the front pages of Variety or get you a meeting with Harvey Weinstein (the head of Miramax Films), but it will make you eligible for a trip to Los Angeles that includes airfare, accommodations, and tours of sites like Paramount and Universal studios. Other prizes will also be given away throughout the night.
“Reversal” is being made independently on a relatively miniscule $300,000 budget. Petulla is a 40-year-old native of Oil City, and says the movie is a semi-autobiographical account of his own experiences on a high school wrestling squad. Petulla chose Washington to shoot the majority of the scenes just about two months ago, thanks to its proximity to Pittsburgh and the now “depressed” look of Oil City. Among the other sites that have been used are the county airport, Washington Hospital and Washington Cemetery. One of the stars of the movie is Danny Mousetis, who is a local wrestler.
This is Petulla’s first foray into feature filmmaking. He is the head of the Recording, Radio, TV and Film Connection in Los Angeles, a trade school for people interested in media careers. “Reversal” is being directed by Alan Vint, a first-time film director whose previous directorial experience has been for the stage. He has acted in such films as “Panic in Needle Park” alongside Al Pacino and the 1973 classic “Badlands,” directed by the legendarily reclusive Terrence Malick.
Petulla said local officials and residents have been cooperative, perhaps in part because “Reversal” is a “personal story and not a horror flick.” He also hopes that “Reversal” will be his shot at “getting in the loop” on the Hollywood filmmaking scene.