“5 Hour Friends”
Screenwriter and producer Ron Jackson discusses his San Diego-based film.
Photography by Giorgio Daveed Assisted by Andrel Razmeritsa
FINE Magazine recently got the opportunity to speak with Ron Jackson, the co-producer and screenwriter of “5 Hour Friends,” a movie filmed in San Diego and the debut release of 905 Productions.
Jackson, now 67, had always wanted to be a writer and producer of films. Back in 1980, he wrote “China Clipper,” a book for which he was offered $250,000 in book rights. He was asked to write a screenplay based on the book and would receive a small percentage of the movie profits. But the deal collapsed and his wife was pregnant, so Jackson took a detour into newsletter publishing in 1981. However, he knew writing and film were his true calling.
As the years passed, Jackson knew he needed to pursue his dream, so he began to save money and 30 years after writing “China Clipper,” Jackson formed 905 Productions, an independent motion picture production company.
From 905 Productions, Jackson wrote the screenplay for “5 Hour Friends” and co-produced the film with his brother, Wayne Jackson. The movie is about Timothy Bonner, a middle-aged golfer and lifelong womanizer, played by Tom Sizemore—best known for his role in films such as “Saving Private Ryan,” “Black Hawk Down,” “Pearl Harbor” and “Natural Born Killers.”
In the film, Bonner is a man devoted to golf, sex and drinking. Not only has he missed payments to his angry ex-wife, but he also owes tuition money to his son, who will be forced to drop out of college if he doesn’t pay. Furthermore, unless he is capable of securing a $500,000 loan, his ad agency is in danger of collapse.
[Kimberlin Brown and Tom Sizemore]
ScriptShark, a screenwriting evaluation service, said the film “is an excellent character study, filled with great insights into human nature. It has a strong sense of dramatic action, and manages to make scenes of dialogue between two characters tense and exciting.”
It takes approximately four to five hours to play a game of golf, during which you meet strangers and, depending on your temperament, carry pretty personal conversations. You can learn about divorces or problems with children, but then never see the person again. Bonner has a life filled with temporary relationships, with which he is completely satisfied.
“People have various types of relationships,” Jackson said. “Some are temporary, some turn into something more. We gain a good understanding of people and then they just fade out of our lives.”
The movie explores these relationships and the evolution of Bonner’s character, as Jackson explained: “This story deals with people falling in and out of love and taking advantage of one another. While there is an athletic side to it, this story winds up being about relationships in terms of building and keeping them, making golf a metaphor for life.”
Kimberlin Brown, best known for her role as Sheila Carter on “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful,” plays Bonner’s love interest, Carla Bianchi.
“The wonderful thing about playing Carla Bianchi is that there is no wrong,” Brown said. “When you’re playing someone who’s got issues, you can go farther with the part than you can when playing a ‘normal person.’”
Brown said she enjoyed this change of pace.
“Filming ‘5 Hour Friends’ was incredible because, as actors, Tom and I both got to share new experiences,” she explained. “He was always portrayed as the hard, tough guy, whereas with this film he was able to show another side to himself, which is what he really wanted to do. “For the first time in my life, my character was the comic relief. This was an opportunity I’d never had before.”
A particular scene involving a “sailor outfit” was a “new experience” for Brown.
“I found it to be the most challenging because it forced me to step outside of my comfort zone,” she said.
“When I wrote the screenplay, I had San Diego in mind,” Jackson recalled. “The city looks unbelievable on and off camera.”
Scenes were shot in Balboa Park, Torrey Pines Golf Course, Hillcrest and Little Italy, including some scenes in Jackson’s condo.
“Because I live here, it also made securing locations much easier,” he explained. “We shot some scenes in a restaurant in Little Italy called Po Pazzo. Ironically, ‘po pazzo’ means ‘just a little crazy’ in Italian, which was very fitting for the film.”
Brown said that shooting in San Diego “really brought new life to downtown.”
“I’m a San Diego girl and my favorite part about our location was that I got to be close to home,” she said. “To be able to have my family come on set and see me work was great because it’s not something they’re normally able to do. It was also terrific to work with such an amazing pool of local talent.”
Jackson is currently in the script stage of “The Trouble with Midnight,” a film noir that will also be shot in San Diego.
“My father was stationed in San Diego with the Navy, so I grew up here,” Jackson said. “We moved around a lot and I moved back east for college, but I came back 10 years ago. I love living downtown because I can go two to three days without even getting into my car. I can just walk to Petco Park and restaurants. I can also play golf everyday because the weather is perfect.”
The film was more than two years in the making.
“A lot of time and effort went into the making of this film,” said Jackson, who took two years to write the screenplay, a couple months for preproduction and more than nine months for post-production. The entire film was shot in 28 days—“the hardest 28 days of my life,” according to Jackson.
“When you’re filming, there are so many things that are out of your control, like the environment, and it calls for immediate adjustments,” he said. “You write things one way and have to end up making last minute changes. However, everyone on this project worked very hard. I’m thrilled with the final product and the response it’s getting.”
“5 Hours Friends” received the California Film Awards 2012 Diamond Award, Canada International Film Festival 2013 Special Jury Award and won for 2013 Best Southern California Film at the Riverside International Film Festival. It will be viewed at the Manhattan Film Festival on June 22, and while it is not yet available for further viewings or purchase, it may come to local theaters later this year. For more information, visit 5hourfriends.com.
Hair and Makeup by Nicole Carothers Assisted by Lizzy Becknell and Lee Keoni