CARLSBAD — It is arguably the best birthday present for a father and his son.
On Saturday, 12-year-old Tommy Kelly was crowned the Reel Pitch winner for his spoof idea dubbed, “Mission: Ridiculous,” which pokes fun at the “Mission: Impossible” franchise.
About 90 minutes later, Kelly turned 13, while his father, Jim also gained one year, and on Monday Tommy Kelly said the experience was surreal and he was still processing the unexpected result.
Kelly beat out nine other contestants in the second annual event, which moves an idea forward into possible production for a movie or TV series. He gave a concise five-minute presentation, while the four judges showered him with compliments for his direct and funny pitch.
“They said they thought it was funny, that I had the perfect amount of jokes and kept them wanting to read,” Kelly said. “I had it memorized and was able to get more fluent with it.”
Kelly, along with his family, cried out when they heard the results, which, along with the high school, college and shorts competitions, where announced Saturday at the Omni La Costa Resort.
The youngster was awarded $500 and will be in contact with producers from Hollywood to develop his project. All the pitches are posted on the festival’s Facebook page.
Perhaps more impressive is Kelly already has a 120-page script he wrote over the summer. Of course, he didn’t reveal all his script last weekend, but said it provides a good outline as the process moves forward.
“I’m still stunned and my family’s just been happy,” Kelly said. “It’s mostly been birthday comments.”
Another stunned teenager was 18-year-old Adam Russell of Rancho Buena Vista High School. He took home the top prize in the high school division for his film “168 Hours,” which included $500 and a Sony camera.
Russell said it took about three months to produce the movie, which follows a teenager going through the same routine until one day he wakes up late, which allows him to break his pattern.
“It was very overwhelming,” Russell said. “I did not think I was going to win. Walking up there, it was kind of surreal. I don’t really remember any of it. It was just really exciting.”
On Friday, actor Chris Noth was honored with the festival’s first-ever Shining Star Award. The two-time Golden Globe nominee entertained fans with a question and answer session discussing his career, while promoting his upcoming movie “White Girl.”
While he is most famously known for his five-year run on “Law & Order” in the early 1990s and as the iconic Mr. Big from “Sex & the City,” Noth said his rise through the ranks has been one of hard work.
Noth said he didn’t picture his career going down this path as he initially trained for theater and a life on the stage.
“Of course the business has changed a lot and the economics,” he explained. “I think the most important event of my career was getting ‘Law & Order.’ In the context of what was going on those days, there wasn’t much TV in New York going on at all. I was over the moon being on it and spent time with detectives in the 34th (precinct). After four years, it was morphing slowly into what it is now, which is procedural.”
Kicking off the festival on Thursday, meanwhile, was the documentary “The Longest Journey” directed by Nathan Apffel, which details Sharon Shaffer’s struggle with Huntington’s disease. The family, led by Renato Shaffer of Chula Vista, engages in a cross-country bike race each year to raise awareness, but the film also details the disease’s effects.
Medical professionals say the disease is like a combination of several incurable conditions such as ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and Parkinson’s.