DELRAY BEACH – An overnight nightmare nearly derailed South Florida comic Chad Ridgely’s award-winning movie directorial debut.
In the days leading up to the Nov. 6 premier of Ridgely’s movie, Self Isolated, Fed Ex suddenly lost the version formatted for movie theater viewing. At the time the Digital Cinema Package was en route to Ridgely in Delray Beach so he could deliver it in person to the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Films Festival.
“All of the sudden all the tracking information disappeared,” Ridgely said. “So did my sanity at exactly that same time.”
Ridgely’s patience quickly turned to panic.
With time and cost proving prohibitive factors in producing a second DCP for the movie premier, Ridgely found himself at the mercy of Fed Ex’s internal bloodhounds.
A day and a half later, Fed Ex located the package and delivered the precious cargo.
“I suspect it was in somebody’s DVD player,” Ridgely joked.
Disaster averted, Ridgely exhaled. He arrived in Buffalo a couple days later with the film safely tucked under his arm.
Buffalo Dreams rewarded Ridgely’s effort on Saturday by naming Self Isolated the festival’s Outstanding Thriller Feature.
“It was such a nice way to get some recognition for the entire team after all the labor of love that goes into making a film,” Ridgely said.
There aren’t many positives to emerge from the COVID pandemic, but for Ridgely Self Isolated definitely qualifies.
Entering 2020 Ridgely intended to make a different a movie. When the pandemic shut down the nation shortly before the scheduled start of production, Ridgely pivoted to a new idea with more of a current events feel.
“As crazy as the pandemic was for all of us first experiencing it, we knew what was happening,” Ridgely said. “Imagine if somebody kind of woke up into that and didn’t really know what was happening.”
Ridgely wrote the new screenplay in about a month. When California briefly re-opened for production in June of 2020, he began shooting Self Isolated. Armed with a skeleton crew and a relatively tiny budget that crept toward six-figures, production wrapped around the time California re-instituted pandemic restrictions.
“We got the film in just in that window of time,” said Ridgely, who relocated from California to South Florida during the pandemic.
An actor before launching his stand-up comedy nine years ago, Self Isolated is Ridgely’s third film as a producer. Previously he wrote, directed and starred in small budget films Murder on Aisle 12 (2016) and 6:66 PM (2017), which are both available through streaming services.
For Self Isolated, Ridgely also added director to his duties.
“I wanted to take it a little further,” Ridgely said. “I felt that I was proficient enough in wearing all those different hats that I could finally take the leap and direct my first feature, which is something I’ve been aspiring to do for a long time.”
Self Isolated’s success in Buffalo has Ridgely eager to submit the film to other festivals. Before the movie eventually finds a home on various streaming services, Ridgely hopes for at least a limited run in theaters.
The first theater show outside of a festival setting could be in South Florida.
“I’m looking to rent a theater here in Delray and do a screening, like a friends and family screening,” Ridgely said. “We’ll do it in a real movie theater, have some popcorn, and scare the crap out of everybody.”