Miles Adler is having the worst day of his life. Living in Manhattan, N.Y., he’s just lost his job, found his wife sleeping with a German casting director, had his wallet stolen and is just generally in a state of discontent. When his wife asks him to just push the reset button on their relationship, he decides to go one step further and hit the reset button on his life and move back to the place where he was last happy: the Little Apple.
This is the plot of the independent film “Manhattan,” which had its first test-screening Thursday night with a full theater of about 300 people at Seth Child Cinemas. “Manhattan” was written by three Kansas State University alumni Bret Palmer, Ryan Bruce and George Stavropoulos and is a nod to Woody Allen’s 1979 film of the same name.
Allen’s influence is apparent in the film’s humor and in the fact the entire film was created in black and white. Stavropoulos plays the main character, Adler, and said that the experiences Adler goes through back in Manhattan make the character an “every man.”
“He’s basically a 30-something college freshman,” Stavropoulos said. “He’s relatable in the fact that not everyone gets to do what they really love to do, which for him is writing his novel.”
The film follows Adler’s life as he tries to write his novel back in his college town. He reconnects with his college friend Jack, a married, playboy professor, who has relationships on the side with his students. During a night out with his friend in Aggieville, Adler makes a connection with a girl named Annabel Lee. She drinks wine, loves art (and artists) and only reads the beginning and endings of books. Then there is Ava Marie, Jack’s opinionated and flighty mistress, whom Adler initially hates but later comes to like. He discovers his feelings just in time for her to leave Manhattan for Spain — or maybe Istanbul. Adler struggles to balance these relationships while trying to harness his creativity, the point being to create an interesting, awkward and human atmosphere on the screen.
The movie was filmed on location in both Manhattan, N.Y., and Manhattan, Kan., and everyone involved in the film had some kind of connection to K-State and Manhattan. Stavropoulos said that out of the cast of 50, 46 members were K-State grads or in the K-State theater program. Stavropoulos also was impressed with the open-armed welcome the project got from the Little Apple. Stavropoulos said that local businesses practically gave them the keys and allowed them to film in several locations around Manhattan.Scenes take place all over the K-State campus and Aggieville, including at Auntie Mae’s, Varney’s Book Store, Rock-A-Belly Deli and Bluestem Bistro to name a few. They also filmed at the Flint Hills Discovery Center, in City Park and at 4 Olives Wine Bar.
“I fell more in love with the city while I was working on the movie,” Stavropoulos said. “This is the highlight of my career. It’s not often you get to do something you’re passionate about in a place you’re also passionate about.”
After last night’s test-screening, the crew at the film’s production company, Element 35, is now going to prepare the film to go into film festivals both in the U.S. and abroad.
“We’re going to look for a good marketplace for the movie,” Stavropoulos said. “We’re going to try to target the audience. American independent films tend to do better abroad, so we are also looking into that.”
But for now, Stavropoulos and the rest of the crew are just proud of the project they created about the town full of people and places they love.