A dream inspired a filmmaker from Winston-Salem to make his first feature-length film, which is now available on the Amazon Prime streaming service.
“Scraps,” a dark comedy about a dinner party gone awry, was created by Daniel Shar, 31, a Winston-Salem native and graduate of Reynolds High School. He now lives in Los Angeles.
Almost four years ago, in July 2015, Shar had a vivid dream about his late mother coming back to life, “and then further surprising my family by announcing her intentions to divorce my father,” he said. “Almost immediately upon waking up, my mind morphed that dream into the idea for this movie wherein one person’s near-death experience at a dinner party drastically alters the lives of everyone in attendance.”
When he lived here, he wrote for the Journal’s Teen Page and “ate way too much Cookout and TJ’s Deli.”
After high school, he attended the University of Missouri, where, as he put it, “I graduated with a journalism degree I haven’t used.” Then he spent six years doing sketch and improv comedy in Chicago, where he met other performers who are featured in the movie.
Daniel’s father, Bob Shar, still lives in Winston-Salem, and told him that though the dream “seemed weird to me, it was only slightly disturbing. ... Bottom line: if the dream entertained you and launched ‘Scraps,’ I’m plenty good with it.”
“Scraps” was filmed in 2016 and had screenings in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles throughout 2018 before coming to Amazon Prime. The film cost less than $2,000 to produce.
Shar said he hopes viewers are entertained and “get some laughs” out of watching the film. “As far as the message I’d like people to glean though, this film is fueled by the idea that life is short and we should all be doing everything we can to make the most of the one we have.”
Austin Highsmith Garces, an actress from Winston-Salem, has appeared in such movies as the “Dolphin Tale” films and “Gangster Squad,” TV shows including “Scream: The Series” and “Big Love,” and various TV-movies. And now, she can add “children’s book author” to her resume.
She wrote and illustrated “The Miracle Tree,” which is being released today. The book, based on her own experience, follows a little girl who has to go into the hospital at Christmastime for emergency surgery. She faces her fears, thanks to family and faith.
“I wrote the book for sick kids and their families to try and make the hospital less scary,” she said. “I have also created a 501c3 charity called ‘The Miracle Tree Foundation’ that a portion of my book proceeds will go toward.
“The foundation will help research and treatment for kids with rare diseases and illnesses. My writing partner and I are hoping to make this into a movie so that we can help even more children and give visibility to a larger number of rare illnesses and conditions.”
The book is being released as a 24-page children’s book, in hardcover and softcover, and will also be available on Kindle, Nook and other devices.
On May 29, Garces will appear at Bookmarks in downtown Winston-Salem to read from the book. More information on the book can be found at facebook.com/miracletreebook.
The NBC series “Manifest” — about the passengers and crew on a plane that vanished in 2013 and reappeared in modern day with none of them having aged — has been picked up for a second season, and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has announced that the first season will be released on DVD July 23. The cast includes Jared Grimes, an actor who grew up in High Point, who appeared in several episodes late in the first season.
Fox has canceled “Rel,” a sitcom produced by Winston-Salem native Jerrod Carmichael. The series starred Lil Rel Howery, who played Carmichael’s brother on “The Carmichael Show,” as a recently divorced dad trying to rebuild his life. Fox also canceled “The Gifted,” a superhero series that was a spin-off of the “X-Men.”
Carmichel is also producing another comedy series, “Ramy,” the first season of which just debuted on Hulu. The series features Ramy Youssef as an Egyptian-American torn between his Muslim family and his millennial friends. Carmichael is also executive producer on a series under development with Nate Bargatze, a comedian from Tennessee whose latest stand-up special was recently released on Netflix.