Feature bows after 8 years in the works

Before he wrote “The Merry Gentleman,” Ron Lazzeretti wrote and directed four 20-minute films that always he had in mind to marry them with a thematic thread that links them together as a single film. Eight years later, mission completed.

The four films are “Something Better Somewhere Else,” “in the form that I originally intended,” says Lazzeretti and will premiere May 21 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Romantic and funny, “Something Better” follows the adventures of restless people who step outside of their everyday lives to see if there really something better beyond their boundaries.

“When we starting doing these films, we took a defiant Chicago attitude. We were going to show people what we can do here,” Lazzeretti says.

The “we” he refers to is a variety of people, on both sides of the camera, who pitched in and got involved in the project from the start, “so that each piece feels like part of the family.”

He ticks them off: “Ed Amaya produced. The DPs were Gary Katz, Greg Gricus, Allan Thatcher, Darryl Miller, Abby Jacobson was an A/D. Farris Anderson ran the Steadicam. It was all hands on deck.”

For the cast, Lazzeretti used what he calls his “great core ensemble” of local improv actors — David Pasquesi, Chris Stolte, Stephanie Childers and Abby Sher — “who throughout the four films, bounce around playing different roles.”