Tampa Bay's long been the ugly redheaded step-child of Florida's film industry, usually sopping up, with stale bread, the dregs of what our state's two larger movie markets, Miami and Orlando, leave behind.
But with the success of movies like Magic Mike (2012) and Spring Breakers (2012), both filmed primarily in the Tampa Bay area, it seems our once tangled, matted crimson locks have grown out to shine — and the film industry is taking notice. We may still be read-headed, but we're hot now and we're getting some dates. Our last one was with Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense) and the rest of the cast and crew of the coming-of-age comedy Sex Ed (2014), which premieres in Tampa this Friday night, at the Studio Movie Grill, in the University Mall.
The film, which sold out all of its screenings at the Portland Film Festival in August — while also nabbing the “Best Narrative Feature” award at the festival — follows Eddie, an aspiring middle school teacher with the doughy demeanor, as he copes with completing the honorable and un-troublesome task of teaching a school full of befuddled, pubescent little jerks how to use condom wrapped bananas and proper tampon etiquette pamphlets to better understand their changing bodies.
The only problem is: Eddie's a fuckin' loser virgin himself… Ouch. And his students know little more about sexual education than what they've learned from internet porn. Luckily, Eddie falls in love with the smokin'-hot Pilar (Lorenza Izzo), an older sister of one of his pupils. In the end, thank God, Eddie realizes that once you begin to fight for what's right, everything else just kind of falls into place.
Sex Ed written by House of Cards writer, Bill Kennedy, and directed by Isaac Feder (LIfe On The Line), has loads of hilarious people in it besides Haley too, like Matt Walsh (Veep), Retta (Parks and Recreation), and Abby Elliott (Saturday Night Live), along with the aforementioned Lorenza Izzo (The Green Inferno, Hemlock Grove), Glen Powell (Expendables 3, The Dark Knight Rises),Tampa Bay native Castille Landon (Among Ravens) and Lamorne Morris (The New Girl). It's produced by Dori Sperko, Elayne Schneiderman Schmidt of Sarasota (Entourage, I Am Number Four, Ali), Monika Casey and Stephen Feder. Joseph Restaino of Tampa (Chu and Blossom) and Thomas E. Kelly are the executive producers, and Jennifer Glynn is the co-producer. The film shot on location at The Hub, in downtown Tampa, a Catholic grammar school, all around the winding streets and alleys of Ybor City, along the Skyway Bridge, around Manatee County, at a private home on Davis Islands, the Urban Place Apartments, a big-time bagel shop on Gandy and throughout the river walk, overlooking University of Tampa.
"Everyone was great," Osment said when CL caught up with him over the phone. "The whole thing was a blast." Osment went on to comment about Tampa, strip clubs and women:
How'd you like Tampa Bay?
We loved it. We tried to make this movie first in Chicago, which wasn't possible, then we were just going to do it in LA, but when we got the money [to make the movie] from Florida, under the condition that we would shoot there, [we agreed]. We didn't know the city that well, but were so happy about how cool it was. Ybor City and all these cool places we were unfamiliar with, that we felt had not really been showcased in a movie before … added a great flavor to the film.
CL: Get to mingle with the fans at all?
Well, we were shooting in Ybor, along the main drag, so we had crowds from time to time. And we shot at the Hub, the bar downtown — I think we even had a few actual patrons coming in while we were shooting — so we were kind of constantly in the public eye.
One of the parts from the Sex Ed trailer that had me laughing was when Matt Walsh's character says to your character, "a strip club has to have a compelling theme." Being in Tampa Bay, the unofficial strip club capital of the world, had to have given you a little inspiration for that one.
Yeah, [laughs] Tampa is the strip club capital of the world, isn't it? I guess that started because of the Air Force base there. Anyway, yeah we were inspired by one real strip club, and we talk about it in the movie: 2001 Odyssey, the one with the UFO. So that's what [Matt's] referring to there.
You get a chance to make it down to 2001 or any other strip clubs while you were in town?
No, [laughs] as far as I know we didn't . ...
Your strip club's theme…
If I had a strip club… I had a friend in high school who thought phrases made good themes. So, when in Rome.
Ever get girls chasing after you because you're famous?
I don't think I've ever really capitalized on that. Most people remember me from being a kid.
Well get ready to. I have a feeling you're on your way back up to the top, and quick.
The coming-of-age comedy Sex Ed, starring Academy Award nominee Haley Joel Osment, will be released theatrically Friday, Nov. 7, in Tampa, at the Studio Movie Grill, at 7 and 9 p.m., in the University Mall on E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa. The official “after party” for Tampa’s Sex Ed run will take place on Saturday, Nov. 8, at The SoHo Backyard at 610 S. Armenia. It is located behind CVS between Howard and Armenia across from Moody Avenue. Producers and several cast members will be in attendance.