DOWNTOWN — Valentine’s Day has come and gone but that doesn’t mean that falling in love is out of season. Local residents Marc Fienberg and his wife Eva Gordon have written and produced a film that offers love and hope for all generations.
“Play The Game” is a story of a young ladies man (Paul Campbell) who teaches all his dating tricks to his lonely, widowed grandfather, played by the always personable Andy Griffith, who is starting to test the waters again. The cast also includes Doris Roberts of “Everybody Loves Raymond” fame and Marla Sokoloff.
The story was inspired by Fienberg’s true-life experiences. “Four years after my grandmother died, my 89-year-old grandfather came to me and said, ‘help me get back in the dating world,’” Fienberg said. “At first I thought it was a little strange, a little weird, but it was also one of the most touching, endearing moments of my life and I thought, there has to be a story told about this.”
The message of the movie is pretty clear — Stop playing games if you want to attract the woman or man of your dreams. And yet, Fienberg admits he stalked his wife for seven years, playing all sorts of games before he finally took the advice of his movie and laid it all on the line telling her, “None of this friends stuff. … I have feelings for you.” They were engaged seven months later.
Fienberg and Gordon met while undergrads at Michigan University. Fienberg knew Gordon was to be his wife on their first date when she correctly guessed an obscure quote from “Midnight Run.” What Fienberg didn’t know was that Gordon had just seen the movie a few days prior.
For Gordon, she adored her boyfriend but was just starting college and really wanted to do her own thing nor did she have any idea that Fienberg was putting so much time into their relationship — trying to see her, finding ways to run into her, which ties into one theme of the movie, “planned spontaneity.” When Gordon reconnected with Fienberg seven years later in Chicago, she realized he was the guy. He moved to Boston to be with her and the rest is history.
Prior to receiving his MBA at Northwestern, he interviewed with, “a very small start up,” with just 15 people. They were interested in bringing Fienberg on board when he graduated but instead of contacting the company upon receiving his degree, Fienberg decided to travel around the world, which is when he wrote the first version of “Play The Game.” While he was finishing the script in Nepal, he said, “I read a little story about this company I had interviewed with months ago. … It’s now called e-Bay.”
Fienberg has no regrets. He and his wife have his pictures from his world travels on what they jokingly call a “multi-million dollar wall of photos.”
The couple’s daughter was six months old when they decided to quit their jobs and make the movie. “People thought we were passionate but stupid,” Fienberg said.
People are always “passionate and stupid” until they have a hit, then they’re called visionaries.
Fienberg started raising money while in Boston, closed on the funds once in Los Angeles and finished the film, which won the Audience Award at the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival and the Santa Fe Film Festival.
They sent the script to Andy Griffith because Fienberg’s grandfather was a huge “Matlock” fan. Fienberg thought if they could get “Matlock” for his grandfather, the film would come together, and it did. The film opens mid-March.
Taylor Van Arsdale is a writer/producer and movie reviewer for the Daily Press. She can be reached at Tailfish@roadrunner.com