Worth the Gamble

Rob Kalesse

Rob Kalesse

, Entertainment

Betting on Little League games years ago spawns a film at the 2018 SXSW for a Newark native

If writers write what they know, then Newark native Timothy Brady’s days gambling on the Little League World Series came in handy when he wrote the screenplay for the film All Square. The University of Delaware grad recently had the honor of attending the premier of the flick—along with director and friend John Hyams—at the 2018 South by Southwest Conference & Festivals (SXSW) in Austin, Texas.

The drama/black comedy, which Brady insists is not autobiographical, tells the story of a down-and-out bookie who decides to take bets on an ex-girlfriend’s son and his Little League squad. During college and for a time after, Brady took and placed bets to help make ends meet.

“At one point, my bookie took bets on the Little League World Series, and I found myself watching the games and screaming at the TV when one of the kids made an error,” says Brady. “When I realized I was yelling at a 12-year-old, I was like, whoa. That was a bit of a wake-up call.”

Brady was a marketing major at UD, but he moved to New York City to try his hand at writing pilots for sitcoms and plays and to try to sell his work. It was his gig bartending, however, that wound up paying some of the best dividends when he got invited to a weekly poker game.

“A guy I worked with [at Off the Wagon] in Greenwich Village invited me to play in a Wednesday night game with some actors and other industry types,” says Brady, in a phone interview from Los Angeles, where he now lives. “That’s where I met [actors] Josh Lucas and Michael Kelly, and they both wound up in the film.”

Brady befriended Lucas (Poseidon) and Kelly (House of Cards), and the group often mused about making a film together if the stars aligned. After getting his work into some Fringe Festivals, Brady wrote the screenplay for All Square, and he and Hyams were able to nail down the two actors as well as other notables: Isaiah Whitlock, Jr. and Neal Huff (The Wire); Pamela Adlon (Better Things); Tom Everett Scott (That Thing You Do!), and Yeardley Smith (The Simpsons). Filming began in Dundalk, Md., in May of 2017, and the film was in the can and on its way to festivals last summer.

“A lot of what happens in a poker game depends on luck, and we needed some luck for this to all come together with everyone’s schedule,” says Brady. “But the timing just worked out, and it was such a great crew and cast. We got some more good luck when we got accepted at ‘South-By,’—just getting in is awesome.”

Brady says All Square was screened three times at SXSW, including one for an audience of primarily friends and family, and two with a variety of guests, including members of the media and film industry, as well as general ticket holders.

“Having everybody there for support was pretty cool, and kept me grounded as I rushed around from photo shoot to interview with different entertainment publications,” says Brady. “But screening it in front of a random, live audience really gives you the most honest feedback. People were laughing at the right times and nobody was checking their phone or getting up to use the bathroom.”

Turns out the feedback was better than expected. Although no official distribution offers have been made to date, All Square was named an Audience Award Winner in the Narrative Spotlight category. Brady says that, although his film wasn’t in the “featured” or “competition” category, viewers were invited to fill out a ballot on their way out of the theater and vote for their favorites in the “narrative” category.

“For us, this is a fun award to win, since we just wanted a movie that all people can enjoy,” says Brady. “It feels like a big win for our group.”

Brady says reviews of the film will soon be published in Variety and other industry outlets, and then it’s a waiting game. For now, he’s back in L.A. with a lifetime of memories from SXSW, and will begin working on future projects, including a feature film screenplay and a sitcom, with high hopes.

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