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Let's hear it for Mollywood

Filmmaker says LDS version of 'Pride and Prejudice' has a market

Published: Saturday, June 21 2003 12:02 a.m. MDT

PROVO — Hollywood. Bollywood. Mollywood.

The first needs no explanation, the second is the name of India's film industry, and the third . . . well, the third has just been born.

Mollywood is the term Jason Faller, a film producer who recently studied at Brigham Young University, uses to describe a new genre in LDS filmmaking — the Mormon chick flick.

"Charly" was probably the first of the kind, but Fuller thinks his updated version of the Jane Austen classic "Pride and Prejudice" will be an even bigger smash.

"It's not an inside Mormon joke. It has a market," Fuller said. " 'Pride and Prejudice' has a huge following. It's kind of like 'Star Wars' for women."

And that's why Fuller thinks his film will not only please "Molly Mormons" across the Wasatch Front but fans of the book everywhere.

In Fuller's version of the beloved classic, the setting is Utah's frenzied dating scene instead of the English countryside, and the girls are five BYU roommates rather than sisters. The story follows Elizabeth, whose resolve to remain single until she graduates is tested by two courtiers: Wickham, a smooth-talking playboy, and Darcy, a sensible businessman.

The film will feature cameo appearances by Carmen Rasmusen of "American Idol," the entire entourage of the Miss Utah pageant and the two LDS girls who appeared on ABC's "The Bachelor."

One night this week, Fuller's cast and crew gathered at the old Utah County correctional facility in south Provo to film a scene in which Wickham tricks a naive BYU co-ed named Lydia into eloping with him. The actors were dressed in retro wedding clothing, and the room had been painted in bright red and pink hues to give the film a stylized look similar to "Down With Love" or "Legally Blonde."

The lead actor, Orlando Seale, who has dark curly hair and speaks with an English accent, said he knew nothing of Mollywood before this film. In fact, he knew nothing of the LDS Church.

Seale says the LDS culture — which encourages marrying young and discourages premarital sex — lends itself well to the story. But he says the film is not overtly religious and should appeal to a broad audience.

Seale also found an ironic parallel between the book's account of Darcy's trip from London to a small isolated English village and his own experience coming to Provo from London.

"I came from a place very different than here. It was very Bohemian, very permissive, very artistic," Seale said. "When you arrive here you feel like you are coming into a whole new world, and as an outsider it's a very surreal experience. It really hits you."

Most of the actors in the film are not LDS, and Seale said making a film with LDS undertones has been an eye-opening experience.

"It would be a great thing if this film helped people see this is just a normal community, that there's nothing mysterious about it," he said. "Because there is that (mysterious) perception."


E-mail: jhyde@desnews.com

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