‘Best Mom’

‘Best Mom’ is a full-length comedy film written by and starring Anniston’s Meg Weidner.

Meg Weidner grew up in Mississippi, where storytelling is a way of life. “I loved listening to my mom tell stories over holiday meals,” she said.  

As a young teen, Meg enjoyed watching celebrities walk the red carpet at the Academy Awards. “I wanted to be like them,” she said. “I wanted to be a storyteller through film.”

She went on to spend years training as an actor, working in theater and film and, as she tells it, “making mistakes, failing, getting up, being knocked down again.”             

Throughout it all, she never gave up on her dreams. As a result, her first feature film, “Best Mom,” had its world premiere last night at the LA LIVE Regal Cinemas theater in Los Angeles.

“Not that it was that easy,” Meg insisted. “I had years of rejection and setbacks.”             

One of her more defining moments came when a friend gifted her with a book entitled “Save the Cat,” by Blake Snyder. “It taught me the art and science of screenwriting,” she said.             

Snyder advises artists to develop their movie pitch, known as a logline, with an ironic twist in which the character and situation are at odds with each other. “The book gave me the foundation to write my first logline with irony,” Meg said, and it was quite an exciting accomplishment. “Not eat-whatever-I-want-and-not-gain-weight exciting,” she clarified, “but exciting.”

The Weidners have homes in California and Anniston. Meg’s husband, Alex Weidner, owns Howard Core, a musical wholesale company specializing in classical stringed instruments and cases, located at McClellan.

When spending time in Anniston, Meg has worked with our local Yellowhammer Filmmakers Group, building her resume and polishing her craft. She’s had her short film work showcased at the annual Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham.

When searching for inspiration in penning a screenplay for a full-length feature project, Meg looked inside her own family, toward her own daughter. “She is the one person I truly wish to be when I grow up,” she said. “She is a beautiful, soulful child with so much heart.”

Reflecting on their many mother-daughter moments gave Meg the creative material she needed to develop and finish her project. One such moment that made its way into the film revolved around an outfit her child wanted to wear to a costume party.             

“She wished to go as a puppy dog,” Meg remembered. After searching through store after store, Meg finally purchased a kitty outfit that was intended for an adult woman. Meg then attempted to turn the sexy costume into a cute puppy dog.

“It’s one of the many reasons why I’m not getting Best Mom of the Year,” she said.             

While attending a film festival in Newport Beach, Calif., Meg met director Kuang Lee, who introduced her to producer Leann Lei. They decided to take Meg’s screenplay and turn it into a feature film. “We worked as the original dream team,” Meg said. “And then built out with a stellar cast and crew.”

In “Best Mom,” Meg plays the character of Addy James, a travel writer who works for her hypercritical mother, played by actress Donna Mills.

At home, Addy doesn’t have it much better while trying to please her daughter, Esther. The two just don’t seem to connect.

Husband Jason, an actor who plays a superhero on TV, advises Addy to enroll in an improvisational class so she can learn how better to interact with others.

Addy signs up for the class, not realizing the instructor is her husband’s ex-girlfriend.

At The Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival, “Best Mom” received two awards — Best Family Film and Best Supporting Actress for Mills.

But for Meg, the greatest accomplishment she feels is setting an example for her daughter. “I hope I have shown her that dreams can come true in spite of most challenges,” she said.

The creative gears are already turning for Meg’s next project, a feature film she has mysteriously dubbed as “PB” and hopes to begin shooting right here in Anniston next year.

Donna Barton’s column appears every Sunday. Contact her at donnabarton@cableone.net.