While most schoolteachers are steeling themselves for the school year ahead, Keith Black has something else going on. The high-school math teacher from the Brooklyn area is screening Celebrity Sex Tape, his eight-minute comedy short film, at Funky Town Creative Lounge this Saturday. The free showing is not only for entertainment purposes; Black is hoping to get funding to expand the short into a feature.
Don’t expect him to ditch his teaching career if he succeeds. He went to business school out of college but found an accounting career to be too dry for his tastes. “I’m more of a people person,” he said. “Teaching was a good fit.” Now in his 40s, he’s been teaching for 20 years and says he derives as much pride from seeing former students succeed in life as he does from having his films shown to audiences. His filmmaking ambitions have always been fitted around his schedule, mostly on summer breaks. “My most important priority is the kids,” he said. “I don’t do anything until my lesson plans are done and my papers are graded.”
He conceived the idea for Celebrity Sex Tape two years ago. Black stars in the film himself as a man whose desperation to become famous is strong enough that he plans on making a sex tape despite being middle-aged and not overly pretty. Searching for hot female celebrities to make the tape with, he finds himself turned down even by the geriatric ones, even though he gets help from a disgruntled celebrity assistant (Jacklyn Sokol). The film’s comic style is heavily influenced by Woody Allen, with its New York setting, jazz music on the soundtrack, and Black portraying himself as a bespectacled, nebbishy neurotic. In fact, Black hired as his editor Ron Kalish, who edited some of Allen’s earliest films like Take the Money and Run. He credits Kalish with salvaging the short’s final scene, shot on the Brooklyn Promenade, where helicopters were flying overhead. “When you work with a low budget, things are unpredictable,” he said. “I’m very lucky to have a great team.”
Black has financed all his projects so far himself, but he’s looking for investors to take the next step, having concluded that crowdfunding doesn’t suit his temperament. Thanks to his tireless efforts at promotion, he was able to shoot promos for Celebrity Sex Tape with the likes of Sally Jessy Raphael and Audrey Landers explaining why they refused to do a sex tape with him. He keeps the faith that his vision will be recognized. “I know I’m not George Clooney or Brad Pitt, but I’m a working-class guy and I think people relate to me,” he said. “I think I can make it.”