Moviemakers fulfill a wish with 'heads or tails'
Feb. 16, 2005
Nathan Oravec

Tom Fedor/The Gazette

Joey McAdams (left) and Clark Kline stand in front of the Weinberg Center where their first feature, 'heads or tails,' will debut Saturday.

There exists a Native American myth, twisted throughout history, that every 13th cycle of the moon two individuals must stand at the edge of a cliff and compete for a wish with the toss of a coin.

Or does there?

"He says yes, I say no," said Joey McAdams of his moviemaking associate, Clark Kline. "And we laugh and laugh."

Kline, of Frederick, originally developed the premise as a short story while in college.

"I was driving back and forth on 95, visiting a friend at the University of Delaware, and I kept passing this one cliff," Kline said. "One day, I just sat down and wrote this story. I generally put a lot of time and planning into my writing, but this one just came out of me."

After founding their self-proclaimed "ultra low-budget" production company, Fool Martyr, in 2003, the duo decided to expand the piece for its first independent feature.

The result, "heads or tails," debuts Saturday at the Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick.

Its creators seem proud of their finished product ­ and somewhat relieved. The road to the Weinberg, it turns out, was long ­ and weathered.

"In a brothel," McAdams said when asked how he and Kline first met. "In prison."

They actually attended the same high school, Kline said, having both been raised in Middletown, but were not colleagues there.

"We never really ran into each other. I didn't know anyone in his circle," Kline said.

After graduation, McAdams moved on to San Diego, where he earned a degree in film, before continuing his studies at Maine's Photographic Workshops.

Kline became further involved with his writing, completing his first novel, "100 days of hell" at the age of 18. He created an e-zine, "burn," dedicated to darker literature; dabbled in screenplay; and began work on his second book, "antidepressant." (The lower caps that dominate his titles, including 'heads or tails,' he said, are simply a graphic element of his preference.)

When the time came for McAdams to film his first short, he returned home. "I had more resources here," he said. "I'd lived here for so long."

McAdams and Kline crossed paths for the first time at the Frederick Festival of Film in 2002, and soon struck up a friendship.

"We began to share stories and scripts," McAdams said. "We realized we had this interesting dynamic."

Their first filmed collaboration, "the big comedown," came in early 2003. Following its completion, they immediately began work on "heads or tails."

Production on the movie began in September that year in the Frederick area, shot entirely on high-definition digital video with a diverse cast comprised of talent both local and from abroad.

Its just-under $12,000 budget was funded, by and large, by Kline, McAdams, and co-producer, Ryan Keller. They crafted makeshift dollies and rigs to make ends meet, and were granted permission from gracious property owners to shoot freely at various, integral locations throughout the region.

Difficulties were rife, however. Broken cars and broken cameras proved random hindrances, but it was an early snowfall that pushed the shoot back for almost a year.

With 70-percent of the movie occurring outdoors, McAdams and Kline launched postproduction early, while the remainder of the cast and crew waited for locations to regain continuity.

Filming ultimately wrapped last summer, Kline said.

For the cast, adding to the shoot's concurrent theme of uncertainty was the script itself, the majority of which they were never permitted to read. Actors were privy to their part only, at times not receiving those pages until the day of.

"We were looking for actors who were committed, and who could do a lot of the work on their own," McAdams said. "They didn't know anything but their story... so we basically gave them free reign to develop their character on their own."

With its plot shrouded in mystery, even when prompted by McAdams, Kline won't shed any new insight on the story's dark secrets.

"He gets the girl," McAdams said. "It's all just a dream ­ a trick."

"It explores history and how things can tend to change and degrade over time," Kline said.

While "heads or tails" does have a thriller aspect, it's not a horror film, he said.

"It's a dark drama, [expletive]!" McAdams said.

"The story, visually, doesn't feel like anything in particular I can think of," Kline said. "I think it's great that in a large, independent horror market, at least around here, that we've managed to make something unique. ...It's definitely nothing like a Hollywood production. There are no explosions."

"Yeah. If you like Jerry Bruckheimer, you will absolutely not like this film," McAdams said.

"I can't say that," Kline said. "I just came off of a CSI marathon."

A week of fine-tuning still remains for the filmmakers before "heads or tails" makes its debut.

"We've had a few arguments regarding the final cut, the final edit," Kline said.

"He's getting a big head," McAdams said. "I'm usually the one with the big head."

'heads or tails'

(Suggested rating R, for violence, language and adult themes)


When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 West Patrick St., Frederick

Tickets: $12

For information: 301-228-2828;;