Have you ever had a garden gnome go missing or know someone who has?  I have, my mom’s gnome went missing for a few weeks, a friend playing a prank.  Well what if there was something a bit more sinister going on?  That’s where “The Case of the Missing Garden Gnome” comes in; a clever, Film Noir take at the dangers that lie in wait for a garden gnome.

I had the pleasure of previewing the not quite ready short and when it’s finished it’s going to be a helluva short!  Supernatural fans may recognize Rob Benedict as Seamus Biggs, who frankly, is kind of a dick.  You see some pain and weariness in him which does make you want to help, even though you know there’s no point.  Marti Kass who plays Jill, Seamus’ daughter is a fantastic young actress who really steals the show.

But these great characters and entertaining story needs your help.  “The Case of the Missing Garden Gnome” is director Alberto Belli’s USC thesis film and he’s using Kickstarter to help fund the remaining post production.  They’re only $570 away from the $2,500 goal with 6 days left.  An achievable goal!

After watching the short, I was able to ask Alberto Belli some questions.  Did I mention he won an Emmy for a zombie musical?

Me: You started your schooling in Marketing & Computer Science and now you’re an Emmy-winning director.  When did you know you wanted to make films, have you always had an interest in film-making?

AB: When I was a kid, I saw Jurassic Park on the big screen and that completely blew my mind. I couldn’t believe that a world that only existed in my imagination felt so real. Then my dad showed me Star Wars and Indiana Jones and I was completely sold – I knew that I wanted be part of that magic. So growing up, I made a bunch of short films with my friends that were later screened at our high-school, but for college I decided to study Computer Science to have a back-up plan, with the intention to study a masters in filmmaking. I felt that studying Computer Science would help me understand what could be done behind the scenes plus both industries have become more and more depended of each other.


Me: What was the inspiration to make a film-noir around a missing garden gnome?  Fantastic idea and well executed why haven’t we* seen something like this before?  *if there are others out there I haven’t seen them

AB: Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad that you liked it! Joe Swanson, who is the writer of “Gnome” and has an incredible imagination, pitched me various scripts for my thesis film and I just felt in love with that one. It had an old school feeling of the movies I grew up with like Goonies and Back to The Future – fun adventures but always supported with great characters that we cared about. So it was a no brainer for me to pick-up that script as my thesis film. Funny enough, Joe and I ended up working on Zombo for an advance class at USC before we even got to start production on Gnome. Joe has the ability to write stories that are unique yet familiar so he gets all the credit for that. Did I mentioned he loves garden gnomes?


Me: You’re using Kickstarter to help fund the remaining post-production.  Is this your first experience with it?  What has it been like?

AB: It is my first time using Kickstarter and I’m having a great experience! Since the majority of my friends and family kindly donated during the production process – I was looking for way to connect with other film/art lovers who were interested in supporting smaller projects in need of help and Kickstarter was the perfect place to do that. Their community is so supportive that even though my friends are still helping out, the vast majority of the donors in the last phase of Gnome have been people I don’t even know but somehow have found out about the project. It has also given us the opportunity to reach a new audience that probably would have never heard of the project and not to mention is a very safe way to get donations.


Me: What can we expect from you tin the future?  More zombie musicals or detective films?

AB: My next project will hopefully be the feature version of “Gnome” (written again by Joe Swanson and adding Matt Zucker as his co-writer) same characters but a much darker case and a bigger father and daughter story. So detective films will be first but making a musical was a blast that I hope it won’t take too long before I go back to musicals.


Me: Anything else you’d like to add?

AB: Thanks a lot for giving me this opportunity and to share a little bit about “Gnome”. It has been a year of up and downs since we started this project and more than two hundred and fifty people have donated their talent and time in various departments to make it possible. So now that we are so close to the end, we hope we can reach our Kickstarter goal to finally finish it. Thanks!


You can watch the trailer for “The Case of the Missing Garden Gnome” or simply “Gnome” at the Kickstarter page, and while you’re there, donate a dollar or twenty!


You can also visit Alberto’s page for more information on the characters and past projects.