These guys are weird in the best sense — the independent-slash-alternative movie making and writing sense. Mike Marerro, a homegrown Conch, and transplant Jon Rhoads, have been working together for two years. Last year, they made a splash at the Key West Film Festival with “Bacon.” This year, they will present “Fried Pickles,” a short four-minute film three times — once on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 5:30 p.m. at Key West Theater and again at 6 p.m. at The Studios of Key West and on Sunday, Nov. 22 at 4:30 p.m. at Key West Theater.
“It’s in and out with a short film. You don’t want to overstay your welcome,” said Marrero.
“Get to the point,” said Rhoads of their recent collaboration.
“Fried Pickles” tells the story of a card game between friends, one absent for some time, and stars Key West theater regulars Carolyn Cooper, Lliam Dufrense, Brandon Beach, Chad Newman, Mook J and Rhoads. Like many do, the friends describe “where they were” during seminal events. The pickle triggers the main character’s memory of where he was when Michael Jackson died.
The two started their collaboration with “Bacon.” They describe it as “what would you do if you had to dispose of a dead body in a hurry with a humorous twist.”
Last year, they collaborated on “Roshambo” — a rock, paper, scissors wheel of fortune that cast local characters into an alternate reality with an intertwined story line. The play was a huge success when it premiered in April at Key West Theater.
Marerro graduated from Key West High School and finished his schooling at Florida State University. He sis now the executive artistic director of the newish Key West Theater.
Rhoads took a strange detour through engineering school and then the art of butchering (which brought him to Key West), before he fully embraced his creative side.
“I’ve been writing and drawing comics since I was a kid,” Rhoads said. “Now, I’m finally able to make stuff.”
The two met during Tropic Cinema’s 72-hour film challenge, which Marrero fostered in 2013. He said he got the idea from similar 48-hour challenges on the mainland where filmmaking teams have to write, cast, produce and edit a production in the blink of an eye.
“But everything takes longer in the islands. We had to add an extra day,” he said, laughing.
The two are excited for the fourth annual Key West Film Festival. Marerro is looking forward to the screening of “Showgirls” (1995) because he admires the work of director Paul Verhoeven. He and Rhoads are looking forward to the Florida Short Film Showcase.
The duo said they plan to collaborate on future projects, carefully laying the groundwork so one day they might write and direct a feature-length film. In the works is “Free Beer Tomorrow,” a play co-written by eight Keys locals about different decades in the history of a bar. It will premiere at Key West Theater in March of 2016. Also in the works is “Buzz Cut,” a bigger film production than previous projects.
“It’s a humorous take on the apocalypse,” said Rhoads. “A woman navigates the mayhem to find a barber to finish her haircut so her girlfriend will sleep with her again.”
For more about their work, check out bubbaprime.com.
About the Key West Film Festival:
The Key West Film Festival runs through Sunday, Nov. 22 with a variety of events ranging from screenings of short films, documentaries and feature-length productions. Participants can also attend workshops, parties and meet like-minded film buffs. For the full schedule, visit kwfilmfest.com.