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Death of an Umbrella Salesman

By Gary Wien

originally published: 02/26/2018

Death of an Umbrella Salesman

A door to door salesman is likely among the worst jobs one can imagine.  

Images come to mind of middle-aged men in cheap suits attempting to clean rugs soiled by a handful of dirt with a shiny, new vacuum or a bookish fellow hawking encyclopedias.  But imagine an even stranger product sold door to door like an umbrella.  That’s what Stanley Grimp faces in Death of An Umbrella Salesman by Jersey Shore filmmaker Steve Herold.

In an 18-minute short, Herold brings us into the sad life of Grimp (played by Kevin Kolack) as he attempts to make a sale, avoids his ex-wife hounding him for alimony, and tries to reconcile how his life turned out this way.

Beautifully shot in black and white and featuring a great cast, the film follows Grimp as he passes a guy attempting to hang himself (Robert Casiello) whose life is turned around once he realizes there are people far worse off than him - notably umbrella salesmen.  We watch Grimp’s hopes fall as he sees a pair of girls (played by Ronelle Thomas and Claudia de Candia) order umbrellas online right in front of him.  After pushing his umbrella cart up a steep hill, he finds a woman interested in buying an umbrella (a character named Betsy May Morgan, played by Sabrina Gennarino from The Walking Dead) only to be turned down when he doesn’t have an umbrella in her favorite color.

“What the fuck is wrong with me Betsy?” Grimp asks his disappointed customer.  “I am a fuckin’ door to door umbrella salesman, Betsy.  I don’t know where it all went wrong for me. I really don’t. I had such hopes and dreams. I had a chance to play bass in a reggae cover band.”



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The inspiration behind the film came after Herold drove a friend and his wife to the airport.  The plan was to drop them off and bring their car back.  When they opened the trunk to get their luggage, several umbrellas caught his attention.

“I looked in the trunk and he’s got like ten umbrellas in there!” said Herold.  “I’m like dude, what’s with the umbrellas? What are you an umbrella salesman or something?”

As he drove back from the airport, that thought stuck with him.

Death of an Umbrella Salesman

Herold and James L. Palmer fleshed out the idea and wrote the screenplay together.  Palmer also served as a co-producer and created the music for the film.

“I like writing with other people,” said Herold.  “I find it easier to bounce ideas off and write down the best stuff.  He killed it on the music.  I told him what I was looking for and he came back with great stuff!”

Herold’s “day job” is working as digital imaging technician (DIT).  He’s worked on several television shows over the years and describes the position as the person who works between the camera crew in the field and the editors (generally located in either Los Angeles or New York).  

“I basically take all the footage and the audio that they shoot and back it up on hard drives,” explained Herold.  “I go through it and make notes on what they’ve shot and all that stuff.  And I make sure everything is good and there aren’t any issues with the footage.  Then I send it off to post.  It’s a technical job.  It’s an important job in the crew, but I’m not doing anything creative or anything like that.”

But with weekends off, his creativity is able to shine.   

Herold was working in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for the Discovery Channel show Killing Fields when he thought it would be cool to shoot a film in the area, since his previous short films were all shot in New Jersey.  The location benefited him in many ways. He was able to take advantage of fellow crew members interested in helping out; his friend Jessica Gurney was working in Louisiana at the time on the A&E show Duck Dynasty and she joined the crew as Directory of Photography; and he was able to work with Sabrina Gennarino who lives in New Orleans.

Death of an Umbrella Salesman

The film is actually a reunion of sorts between Herold, Kolack, and Gennarino.  The three first worked together on Herold’s film, H.R. Pukenshette in 2000 and again on Bum Runner in 2002.  Herold says he stays in touch with all of the actors he’s worked with and loves seeing their careers flourish. Many times, his films have provided them with some of their first acting jobs.  The list also includes Joe McClean and Joseph D. Reitman.

“As goofy as it may sound, whenever I see these guys getting a good part or something good happens in their career, I’m happy for them and it always makes me proud of these guys,” said Herold.  “It’s almost like a dad seeing his kid - even though most of them are my age.”

Tanner Short who lives in Baton Rouge served as Herold’s right hand man or “fixer” and was an associate producer on the film. In the movie business, a fixer often finds locations to shoot among other things.  In this case, Short not only helped out, but actually lent the use of his house for an important scene. One thing Short could not help Herold with was a hill in Louisiana steep enough for the film.  For that - and a few other scenes - Herold shot on location in New Jersey, making this one of the rare films shot in both places.

Death of an Umbrella Salesman will be shown at two New Jersey film festivals on Saturday, March 24.  It will be screened at the Garden State Film Festival at noon in the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel and at 6:00pm during the Trenton Film Festival at Mill Hill Playhouse during the festival’s Saturday Evening Shorts.

After several short films, Herold is accustomed to the film festival world.  When he submitted his first short, H.R. Pukenshette to film festivals, he sent it to as many festivals as he could.  He soon learned that his rather warped film was perfect for underground film festivals. Death of an Umbrella Salesman is a very different type of film.  It isn’t nearly as warped.  It’s a comedy/drama that could be seen as having a positive message — almost Capra-esque — but it also has darker roots under the surface.

Herold has positioned Grimp as something reminiscent of Sisyphus in Greek mythology. We get the feeling that every day of his life mirrors the one we’ve just seen. And tomorrow will repeat his own private version of hell.

Although the title hints at an ode to Arthur Miller, it was just a name that stuck out for Herold. It’s a memorable title and serves the film well.  Unlike Miller’s classic, this film might have death all around the salesman, but it doesn’t take him - at least not on this day.

“It might be a bit of a happy ending for now,” says Herold with a touch of irony. “But chances are tomorrow might be the day he does jump in front of a truck.”





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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Live in Concert At NJPAC
(NEWARK, NJ) -- New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) presents Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Live in Concert. Don’t miss the fourth installment of Harry Potter in Concert when NJPAC hosts the full-length film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, projected in high-definition on a giant screen, with Oscar-nominated composer Patrick Doyle’s masterful score performed live by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, October 27, 2018 at 2:00pm & 7:30pm. 
Hopewell Theater To Celebrate Halloween With Fright Fest Week of Horror Films
(HOPEWELL, NJ) -- For an entire week, Hopewell Theater will celebrate Halloween with, Fright Fest, a mini fest of classic Halloween horror films from October 25 - 31, 2018. The slate of films are icons of horror cinema, and will be displayed in all their gory glory on the big screen. 
Golden Door International Film Festival To Present A Screening of "The Pretender"
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- One of the most popular sports films in history is Rocky - a film that mirrors the real life experience of professional boxer Chuck Wepner from Bayonne. A new independent film called The Pretender takes viewers inside the life of Mike Kunda, a “Rocky” fanatic since the movie’s release nearly 40 years ago. The film explores Mike’s fascination with the Rocky Balboa character and how it continues to impact his life, and the lives of others, in interesting and unimaginable ways. The film screens as part of the Golden Door International Film Festival on Sunday, September 23rd at 12:00pm at the Landmark Lowe’s Jersey Theatre (54 Journal Square Plaza) in Jersey City, NJ.
"Therapy, Bro" To Screen At Golden Door Film Festival
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- Open Iris Entertainment’s Therapy, Bro will be screened at the Golden Door Film Festival on September 22, at 1:00 PM in The Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre. The short comedy film stars Wally Marzano-Lesnevich (Almost Paris), Francesco Nuzzi (Star Crossed Lovers), Heather Brittain O’Scanlon (House Broken), and Garry Pastore (HBO’s The Deuce) and was directed by John Hedlund (Three Minutes to Air).
2018 Westfield International Film Festival To Take Place September 20-23
(WESTFIELD, NJ) -- Anybody can go to a movie theater to watch a film, but the Westfield International Film Festival is bringing movies to the mansion with its sixth season at the James Ward Mansion in downtown Westfield from September 20 - 23, 2018!  The festival will span a four day weekend and will include Q&A sessions with actors and filmmakers, networking opportunities, and red carpet parties.


Michael Gallagher’s terrific comedy Funny Story Premiere’s at the Fall 2018 New Jersey Film Festival this Friday, September 14!
Michael Gallagher’s terrific feature Funny Story Premiere’s at the Fall 2018 New Jersey Film Festival this Friday, September 14!
The Luring: Fear & Neurosis In Vermont
“As a kid, I was always drawn to the darkness,” said filmmaker Christopher Wells.  “I’d think, ‘Why can’t monsters protect me? If I’m friends with the monsters then I don’t have anything to fear.’”
REVIEW: "Searching"
A few weeks ago the body of a 14-year-old schoolgirl was discovered around the corner from where I’m sitting writing this review. Within hours of the tragic discovery, two 13-year-old boys had been arrested. The police had their work simplified by a series of damning posts across social media which pointed to the guilt of the boys in question. Increasingly, when young people go missing or have their lives taken from them, police investigations are now focused more on trawling through the victim’s internet history in search of clues rather than the pavement pounding of old.
REVIEW: "The Children Act"
Earlier this year saw the release of On Chesil Beach, an adaptation of an Ian McEwan novel centered around a wealthy musician who can’t bring herself to have sex with her husband. Now we get The Children Act, an adaptation of an Ian McEwan novel centred around a wealthy musician who can’t bring herself to have sex with her husband. Both are scripted by the novelist himself, and both suggest McEwan should stick to the literary world.
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(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 runs from September 14 to October 26 on the Rutgers University Campus in New Brunswick, NJ. Showcasing new international films, American independent features, animation, experimental and short subjects, and cutting-edge documentaries, the New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 will feature over 30 film screenings.  The Festival runs on select Thursday, Friday and Sunday evenings. For the complete schedule visit www.NJFilmFest.com. Here is a look at the screenings for September.






Event calendar
Saturday, Sep 22, 2018


MUSIC

Asbury Park Porchfest @ Booskerdoo, Asbury Park - 12:00pm

Carl Chesna & Co. @ Hotel Tides, Asbury Park - 1:00pm

Echoes @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

Cole Swindell @ Hard Rock Live Etess Arena at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 8:00pm

GRUPO NICHE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

The History of Motown @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Drake Bell @ iPlay America, Freehold - 7:00pm

Classic Stones Live feat. The Glimmer Twins @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Opera Theatre of Montclair Presents Hansel and Gretel @ Central Presbyterian Church, Montclair - 4:00pm


Oscar D’León with Tony Vega and Los Hermanos Moreno @ Prudential Hall @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 8:00pm

SunDog Band at Duffy's Tavern, Paterson NJ @ Duffy's Tavern, Paterson NJ, Paterson - 9:00pm

Celtic Thunder X @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Young Person's Concert @ River Dell Middle School Auditorium, River Edge - 1:00pm


Tigerman record release show for “Descend Into Savagery” @ Debonair Music Hall, Teaneck - 8:00pm

Hubby Jenkins @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm







THEATRE

Souvenir @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 8:00pm

East Lynne Theater Company presents SILENT SKY @ First Presbyterian Church (Cape May), Cape May - 8:00pm

The Shuck @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Incorruptible @ Ritz Theatre Company, Haddon Township - 8:00pm

West End Festival of the Arts- Theatre Brut Session 2 @ West End Arts Center, Long Branch - 2:00pm

Evita @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Seuls en Scene French Theater Festival - "Claire, Anton et Eux" @ Class of 1970 Theatre, Whitman College, Princeton - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

HUMAN ERROR by Eric Pfeffinger @ West Windsor Arts Center, Princeton Junction - 8:00pm

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm

Assisted Living: The Musical @ Jay & Linda Grunin Center For The Arts At Ocean County College, Toms River - 2:00pm

Brick City @ Premiere Stages at Kean University, Union - 3:00pm


DANCE

SWAN LAKE - THE ATLANTIC CITY BALLET @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 7:00pm

SOLE Defined @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm


LITERATURE

Monthly Saturday Writing Retreats @ Tiferet Journal, Bernardsville - 9:00am

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