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Ray Richmond: Advertainment hits loft living

August 17, 2013|By Ray Richmond | By Ray Richmond
  • Ray Richmond columnist. Photographed on Tuesday , August 13, 2013.
Ray Richmond columnist. Photographed on Tuesday , August… (Roger Wilson / Staff…)

A couple of weeks ago, Ted Trent — a real estate salesman and sometime actor — and his life and business partner Drew Panico gathered the cast of their forthcoming full-length feature film “Hidden Hills” for a brainstorming session.

The primary question was a simple one: How many creative ways can we find to give this movie away for nothing?

“We’re Hollywood’s worst nightmare,” Trent declares. “Our distribution model is to make sure that we take in no revenue.”

This means that when the 1960s-set comedy is released on Oct. 11, it will be available at free of charge for download, for burning to DVD, for embedding onto websites, for posting on Facebook and YouTube, or for screenings in your living room.

TRAILER: "Hidden Hills"

Invite the whole neighborhood if you want. Just don’t you dare collect a penny. This is, after all, the kind of piracy that involves no actual pirates.


It was, however, not produced without cost. “Hidden Hills” was budgeted at $150,000 and paid for out of Trent’s own pocket. Much of the money went to the Glendale production facility Thia Media, which provided the soundstage and green-screen for roughly half of the film courtesy of its owner Cynthia Webster (credited as producer on the film).

And Trent paid the Burbank prop house Reel Appeal plenty of cash for the props and furniture that populate the 72-minute flick.

A real movie with real actors and real music from real-life former Go-Go’s member Jane Wiedlin (as well as a real writer-director-editor in Dan Steadman), “Hidden Hills” is designed as a send-up of America’s gay marriage preoccupation.

The twist is in its imagining a parallel universe where gay, interracial relationships are the norm, straights hide in the closet, and the biggest taboo of all is same-race pairing.

“We honestly hope to make a difference and open people’s minds about tolerance with what we’ve done here,” stresses Trent, who co-stars as a character named Whitey Ford as well as serving as executive producer.

This is all very admirable. Yet the truth is that “Hidden Hills” isn’t strictly the philanthropic, socially-redeeming exercise in community harmony that it may initially appear.

It’s an ad.

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