Short comedy film was inspired by lives of Farmington residents
'In the Gutter' based on Glenn and Bobbie Goss
- Prescott, Arizona, actor and screenwriter Kevin Goss wrote, produced and stars in the film.
- Goss lived in Farmington briefly as a child and spent many of his holidays and summer vacations here.
- The seven-minute short can be watched on YouTube.
FARMINGTON — He may not have grown up in Farmington, but Kevin Goss spent enough time here visiting his grandparents that the town left a mark on him.
Goss — now a Prescott, Arizona, actor and screenwriter — recalls seeing his first stage production in Farmington in the late 1980s, a show called "Anasazi, the Ancient Ones."
"I was blown away by it," Goss said, explaining that when he came back to Farmington the next summer, he made a point of seeing the long-running show again — and again. In fact, those experiences may even be responsible for leading him to a career as a thespian, he said.
Goss' Farmington roots have impacted his professional life in an even bigger way over the past year. He wrote a short comedy film called "In the Gutter" that was shot in November 2019 and that is now available for viewing online. The two main characters are based on Goss' Farmington grandparents, Glenn and Bobbie Goss, both of whom are deceased.
"In the Gutter" was accepted to three film festivals upon its release early this year — the First City Film Festival in Leavenworth, Kansas; the Over Forty Film Festival in Foxborough, Massachusetts and the Arizona Sunburn Film Festival in Tucson — but the COVID-19 pandemic nixed the chances of it being shown in anything but a virtual format.
That development frustrated Goss, who was deprived of the chance to sit in a theater and watch people watch his film.
"It is harder in a virtual format to know how an audience has responded," he said.
The project began as a full-length feature script, and Goss envisioned it as an ambitious production with a relatively sizable budget. But as he discussed it with his friend and associate Sushila Kandola, Goss realized there was a strong, smaller story within that script that could be carved out as a short film in its own right.
Kandola signed on to direct and co-produce the project, and "In the Gutter" was born.
The film is based on a true story from his grandparents' lives, but Goss said he "reimagined" it and set it in a contemporary era. It covers a 24-hour period, but the film clocks in at just seven minutes, so the plot unfolds at a brisk pace.
Goss plays his grandfather's character in the film, an avid bowler who records the highest score of his life one night while his wife is stuck at home with their misbehaving children. Strutting like a peacock over his accomplishment and oblivious to his wife's dissatisfaction upon his return home, he leaves his scorecard on the kitchen table before turning in for the night, only to discover to his dismay the next morning that it has gone missing.
The story's resolution reflects the ways in which Bobbie Goss liked to use humor to address issues that cropped up in her relationship with her husband, Kevin Goss said.
"I think the story is kind of universal," he said, explaining how his grandmother often employed pranks to make a point with her husband.
Goss said he was very close with both his grandparents, describing how his family would journey back to Farmington every Christmas and every summer for extended stays with his father's parents. Goss witnessed some of those pranks with his own eyes, but in most cases, he said, he heard about them from his grandfather — who was always on the receiving end.
"Sometimes, you'd think, 'Gosh, that was kind of harsh,' " Goss said, referring to the lengths to which his grandmother occasionally went.
But Glenn Goss always related those stories with a smile on his face, Kevin Goss said — an indication that those messages Bobbie Goss was sending were received in the proper spirit.
"There was real mutual respect between them," he said.
Goss recalled that his grandfather took his lunch to work with him every day — a meal that was always prepared by his wife. One day, he opened his lunch box to discover Bobbie had packed him a meal of left-over soup or chili but had neglected to send along a spoon. Glenn brought that oversight to her attention when he got home that night, and when he opened his lunchbox the next day, he discovered it was full of spoons.
"He kind of learned a lesson," Goss said, chuckling and explaining that was his grandmother's way of reminding her husband that she was human and occasionally made mistakes.
Goss, who lived in Farmington for a year and a half as a child, speaks of the city as essentially a second hometown. He hopes local residents who remember his grandparents — Glenn died nearly 20 years ago while Bobbie survived until 2018 — will watch "In the Gutter" online and feel a strong sense of familiarity with the main characters.
"I hope they find something they can relate to in it and also understand that humor is just a good way to defuse a situation or let your partner know how you're feeling," he said. "But the love always has to be there."
"In the Gutter" can be viewed online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7XfMAWQPCU&t=27s.
Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.