Review: Weekend Plans at the Middle Coast Film Festival 

It's like watching you and your friends on screen.

click to enlarge nathan_minger_bloom_wilde_ronald_short.jpg

Weekend Plans is a comedy of discomfort. It’s the kind of show that makes you cringe and writhe on your couch. You’ll laugh nervously out of familiarity and scream, “That’s like me!” as its characters entangle themselves in one awkward encounter after another.

This web series is the one entry from a Hoosier in today’s “best of” the 2015 Middle Coast Film Festival presentation at IU Cinema. Born in Indianapolis and raised in Avon, writer-director Ronald Short based Weekend Plans on his transition to Austin with his wife.

“It’s based off this six-month period where my bestie lived with me and my wife when he first moved here,” Short said. “The things that happen in the show are mostly made up from my brain, but the seeds are from life — whether it’s from a conversation we had or just imagining if a Saturday night went a different way.”

Short stars as Linus, a quirky, pot-smoking bohemian — like the Dude but less relaxed. His wife, Lisa (Bloom Wilde), is the more reasonable person who has to reign him in. And Jon (Nathan Minger) is the frequently jealous third wheel. They’re much like the characters in Short’s first film, Billi & Theodore, which premiered at 2012’s Indy Film Fest. These millennials are open and expressive yet also intensely insecure, allowing their imaginations to immerse them in irrational fear scenarios.

IU Cinema is showing three of the series’ 14 episodes, all of which force the characters to cope with squirmy situations: “BBQ Tony” centers on Linus and Jon wondering whether they would be gay lovers in another life; “Poop-Butt Ninja” finds Linus forced to confront possible burglars naked; and “Chicken Biscuits” revolves around Linus and Lisa (Bloom Wilde) as they debate whether they are craving Chick Fil-A enough to justify the possibility of offending their gay friends protesting the place.

“Middle Coast picked these episodes out. They’ve been really supportive of the series and asked us to screen it at their festival last year,” Short said. “I’ve just let them decide which ones they want to show, at their main festival and this summer series. I think these three episodes show good variety. They’re good examples of the relationships between the main characters along with how absurd and over-the-top the show can get.”

Weekend Plans isn’t the only outlandish entry in the festival, however. The program also features five strange short films, running a wide emotional gamut — from a tale of time travel to a story about thieves. Weekend Plans is closing the festival, sending attendees out with smiles stuck on their faces.

“I’m hoping interest will continue to build with it, along with more of an audience, and we’ll have a reason to make many more,” Short said. “Until then, you should all tell your friends about it!”

This is definitely the sort of show you should enjoy with buddies — the kind that makes you feel like you’re watching yourselves on screen.

Best of the Fest: 2015 Middle Coast Film Festival, May 11, 7 p.m., IU Cinema, 1213 E. 7th St. (Bloomington), Free but ticketed 

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