Montoursville isn't exactly Hollywood.
But that didn't stop Verdi Productions from not only purchasing a script written by a local man but greenlighting it for production this summer.
"A Bet's a Bet," written by Montoursville native Mark Mussina, will begin shooting in Rhode Island this June. The three-week shooting schedule will be directed by Jonathan Silverman, who directed National Lampoon's recent comedy "Another Dirty Movie," and three-time Emmy Award winner Jennifer Finnigan.
Mark Mussina talks about the script he wrote that be made into a movie this summer.
Mark Mussina works on his writing at his computer.
"It's basically an R-rated romantic comedy, kind of battles of the sexes," Mussina said of the script.
The story revolves around a man, who wins at all costs, competing with a woman on a variety of bets, he said.
Mussina first started writing scripts 10 years ago after thinking he should for years. Although he earned a math degree from Susquehanna University, Mussina finally gave writing a try.
"For years, it would've been like, 'Oh, that would be a cool movie or that would be ...' So there has been, I would say, a faint interest (in writing). But somewhere along the line when you're an adult, you kind of realize, sooner or later, 'I have to do this or I'm never going to do it,' " he said.
Over the 10 years Mussina has been writing screenplays, he's had
ones he's liked and those he hasn't. Just having someone read a script was a long process, he said.
"I had written a bunch of things; some, I think, are good, some I don't think are good, some I had never finished because I knew they weren't good. Once I finally finished one that I was proud of, then the next challenge is how do you get someone to read it. ... So with the first one I was really (proud of), I couldn't get anyone to read it," Mussina said. "So I wrote another one and that one I actually got some responses and some feedback. And then the third one that I thought was good actually got me an agent and eventually got sold."
His first few scripts were little more tame, Mussina said, but with "A Bet's a Bet," he wanted to try more adult material. He described the film as a "guy's movie." While he was writing the script, "The Hangover" hit theaters and the success of that film was encouraging that there was a market for it, he said.
"A Bet's a Bet" took Mussina about a year to complete, with some late nights included.
"You know, most of the time ... I sell real estate. And I got a wife and three kids, so you just kind of (write) whenever you find the time, whenever you find the motivation. I always tell people it's like going to the gym, when you're in a flow and when you're going and seeing results and then you don't go for three weeks and it's really hard. It's just like that," Mussina said.
"It's like all those stupid projects people have in their garage. Sometimes you write a lot and sometimes you go for a month and you don't even look at it," he added.
And although the Mussina name is well-known in the area because of Mark's brother, Mike, who pitched professionally for the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees, Mark said he intentionally kept his brother on the outside while trying to get his script optioned.
"It just always sounded corny because we have been on the other side of it where people are like, 'Hey, my nephew is a really good pitcher. Could you come look at my nephew pitch?' So I didn't want to put him in that situation," he said. "And I thought it was more genuine if I could do it on my own."
But after needing investors to get the movie off the ground, Mike was able to help Mark get locals to fund a portion of the movie's budget.
Mussina, a board member of the Central PA Film Office, said it was important that investors be local. He added that he would like to eventually see a film shot in the area.
Now that the start of filming is about two months away, Mussina doesn't have expectations for the film. He just is taking in the experience for now.
"I hope that this is the first of many. Whether they be small-budget, independent films that are becoming more and more prevalent (or not) ... I'm really excited because of the local people that invested," Mussina said.
He compared his writing to a hobby and hopes it encourages other local people to pursue dreams.
"I think it'll encourage people who always wanted to write a novel or wanted to write," Mussina said.