Chicago-made ‘Curtains’ rolls through festival circuit

Megan Caton, Lara Carling, and Madelyn Murphy in "Curtains"

Megan Caton, Lara Carling, and Madelyn Murphy in “Curtains”

“People would
like to see
Denim Underwear,
Hula-hoop, or
The Phases of
the Moon play.”

Gar Hoover

More than a year after production, Beth and Gar Hoover’s Curtains continues to roll through a festival circuit that has stopped in seemingly every city but their hometown of Chicago. The 25-minute comedy is about a disgraced avant-garde performer’s final show, and it features a cast and crew packed with The Second City, Loyola University Chicago, and iO Theater alumni.

Co-writer / producer Beth Hoover emphasizes Curtains’ Chicago connection, “The sound guy was from Milwaukee, but other than that, everybody was from Chicago, including all of the musicians.” Chicago’s Remington Pettygrove, Joe George, and Rob André’s score was recorded at Audiotree’s Wicker Park studio.

The main character, Peter Fleming (played by Brendan Dowling) is what Gar Hoover calls “a stud.” He goes on to explain that Dowling “was pretty much a star in Improvised Shakespeare” at the iO Theater in Lincoln Park.



In 2015, Beth and Gar Hoover already had the character of Peter Fleming in mind for years and were looking to create a sizzle trailer or short as a concept for a pilot.

According to co-writer/director Gar Hoover, the two stopped by the iO Theater to watch some Improvised Shakespeare Company, “and when we saw Brendan (Dowling) on stage, we basically said, ‘oh, my god. That’s our Peter, and then we subsequently talked to him for about a year about the character before we shot that film.”

Beth and Gar Hoover
Beth and Gar Hoover

Two years later, the short began its festival run with a premiere at the Oscar-qualifying 2017 LA Shorts International Film Festival.

Most recently in October and November 2018, Curtains has screened at the Hollyshorts Film Festival. Sherman Oaks Film Festival, San Francisco Independent Short Film Festival, and Studio City International Film & TV Festival.

In the upcoming month, Curtains is scheduled to screen again at the Reel East Texas Film Festival at 3 pm on Friday, November 16 and at the Monarch Film Festival at 4:15 pm on Saturday, December 8.

The pilot script of Curtains, along with the Hoovers’ pilot script for The Oblate, is an official selection at The Palm Springs International Comedy Festival.

So far, Curtains has been nominated for Best Cinematic Writing at the 2018 Blackbird Film Festival, nominated for Best Comedy-Short and Best Supporting Actor-Short at the 2018 Reel East Texas Film Festival, and received the Award of Distinction at the 3rd annual Canada Shorts International Film Festival.

The Hoovers are a production-power couple that runs ideafarm films and have taught storytelling and screenwriting classes at The Second City and Loyola University Chicago since 2011.

Ideafarm, their production company, creates high-quality corporate videos, comedy shorts, documentaries, and award-winning scripts.

Ideafarm recently produced a commissioned documentary for the admirable Legal Council for Health Justice, a nonprofit organization that provides legal support for many, including those diagnosed with AIDS.

As for Curtains, the Hoovers intentionally wrote for a small budget. Beth Hoover states, “We embraced the suck and the grit, and it really worked well for this because it was supposed to be a theater on its last legs.”

“It did produce a few challenges having him remove Kabuki makeup during the filming because it took like 45 minutes to an hour to put it on each time,” she continues.

Gar Hoover comments, “Because of time and because of the makeup, we only had four takes we could do, and these were basically long takes.”

Besides the principal day of filming at the Timeline Theater in Lakeview, the avant-garde performance scenes were shot at the Den Theatre in Wicker Park.

Originally, the actual performances weren’t in the script, but Gar Hoover states that the team soon realized, “People would like to see Denim Underwear, Hula-hoop, or The Phases of the Moon play.”

Unless willing to travel, Chicagoans will have to wait to witness these comedic antics.

However, with momentum from screenings around the continent, Chicagoans should not have to wait long to watch Curtains.

For more information on Curtains, click here.

Contact Joey Filer at or follow him on Twitter @FilerJoey.