Filmmaker Schwaba starts post on under $500K comedy feature debut

“Godfather of Green Bay” director Pete Schwaba (from left), actors Lauren Holly and Tony Goldwyn, and producer Brian Etting.

Pete Schwaba has found his calling.

The co-writer of the Julia Stiles-Selma Blair comedy “A Guy Thing” has started post on his directorial debut. “The Godfather of Green Bay,” which Schwaba wrote, directed, produced, and starred in, shot in Wisconsin in October with a crew including 20 Chicagoans.

Schwaba self-financed the under-half million dollar feature comedy. “That was about the most unfun thing I’ve ever done,” Schwaba said. “In fact the whole project was a pain in the ass until we started shooting, and after that it was the best time of my life.”

Schwaba and Lance Barber (“Bad Meat”) play a pair of standup comics who can’t get seen in Los Angeles and road trip to Wisconsin to perform in a club frequented by a “Tonight Show” talent scout (Thomas Lennon, “Le Divorce”). Schwaba’s character also competes for the love of his former high school teacher, (Lauren Holly, “Dumb and Dumber”), against the titular godfather, a backwoods Scarface played by Tony Goldwyn (“Ghost”).

Schwaba knows the standup life. He spent eight years on the road as a comedian, having launched his standup career after winning an open mic contest while a student at DePaul University. “This was during the standup boom, so I started getting work before I had any business getting it,” he said.

He lived in Chicago as a child, then spent his teen years in Menominee, Wisconsin, where much of “Godfather” was filmed. He moved from Chicago to Los Angeles in 1997.

Schwaba has now directed one of his own scripts, and seen one produced by a studio (MGM). He has strong feelings about which way he’d prefer to work in the future.

“Out here in Los Angeles, people say a writer shouldn’t direct, but I don’t think you can do comedy by committee,” Schwaba said. “That’s what happened with ?A Guy Thing’ ? there were too many cooks. I think the best comedies are done by writer-directors.”

Nonetheless, Schwaba and his “Guy Thing” co-writer, Greg Glienna (creator of the original, Chicago-made “Meet the Parents”) have just sold a second script, “Dream Girl,” this time to Warner Brothers. Jamie Kennedy is attached as a fast food manager who has an affair with a movie star, and nobody will believe him when she starts stalking him. “At least that’s the script we sold, we’ll see how it actually turns out,” Schwaba said.

Chicagoans on the “Godfather of Green Bay” crew included production designer Merje Veski, 1st AD Benjamin Brammeier, gaffer Chris Rejano, key makeup Georgia Jacobs, and stunts Tobiasz Daszkjewicz. Brian Etting produced for Garlin pictures. DP was Dale Myrand. UPM, Jonna Walsh.

Reach Schwaba at . ? by Ed M. Koziarski,