A Reason to Believe

This campus date-rape drama was shot independently in 30 days for a paltry $175,000 and looks like it cost $10 million. Debuting writer and director Douglas Tirola, 27, and his co-producers, Ged Dickersin and Christopher Trela, used every skill they picked up from apprentice work on film sets to give Reason a smooth studio look. They tried every trick to hustle cash to meet the payroll. They talked actors with credits into taking roles: Allison Smith, a former Annie on Broadway, as Charlotte, the student who is raped; Jay Underwood, the star of The Boy Who Could Fly, as Jim, the friend who takes advantage of a boozed-out Charlotte at a fraternity toga party; and Danny Quinn, son of Anthony and a tube regular on Space Rangers, as Wesley, the confused boyfriend who can't decide whether to trust in Charlotte or his frat brother Jim. The movie itself is standard TV issue, earnest and predictable. A better idea would have been to shoot the livelier story of how it was made. That kind of initiative would really give aspiring filmmakers a reason to believe.