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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Taking “Quantum Doughnut” from Story to Production


by Alex Granados

What do you get when an alien, a physicist, and a loudmouth walk into a doughnut shop? A Quantum Doughnut. Okay, so that’s neither a very good joke nor a particularly appealing introduction to an article about a deceptively profound piece of fiction, so maybe if I could just stop time for a moment and start over…

What do you get when an alien, a physicist, and a loudmouth walk into a doughnut shop? A meditation on the nature of reality, the path not taken, and humanity’s maturity in the face of life’s mysteries. Or maybe just a funny story about an alien who likes doughnuts. It all depends on the reader.

“Quantum Doughnut” by Pete Wood is a piece of flash fiction wherein an alien and a physicist discuss the nature of time and the secrets of the universe over a plate of donuts. Then their profound discussion gets hijacked by a loudmouth sitting nearby. I don’t want to give too much away, but suffice it to say that the humans in the story learn a lesson. The film Quantum Doughnut is a short rendition of Wood’s story, directed by Ray Petrolino and starring Rebecca Blum, Seth Blum, and Sean A. Cole.

I sat down (via Zoom) with Wood, Petrolino, the Blums and Cole to talk about the story, the movie, and just how many doughnuts were consumed on the set of the film.

First, the tangled web of relations that led to this production.

Petrolino and Wood know each other from church. They were talking during service one day and Wood revealed his side hustle. Wood, a lawyer by trade, writes fiction—mostly science fiction—in his free time, and he’s been published in a number of professional magazines, including Asimov’s Science Fiction. “Quantum Doughnut,” however, appeared in a December 2016 issue of Page & Spine, a North Carolina-based literary magazine.

Petrolino wanted to read some of his stuff, so Pete shared. One of the stories he gave him was the titular tasty treat.

“I was very impressed with it,” Petrolino said, adding later: “I was kind of blown away with the premise.”

Petrolino is active in the Triangle film-making community. For those not from North Carolina, the Triangle is the reference term for Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, which kind of forms a triangle on a map. Petrolino has created a number of other short films himself and has helped out on other features and shorts. After he read “Quantum Doughnut,” he told Pete it might be fun to make a movie out of it.

The image that really stuck out to him was donuts going down a conveyor belt and being produced, something described in the story and depicted in the film. Petrolino won’t reveal the location of the shop used for filming the movie, but he did say that one of the biggest challenges was finding a way to cover all of the shop’s branding. In the movie, the name of the shop is Mad Monk Doughnuts, and Wood and co. actually had t-shirts made up with a fictional logo. 

 
Full disclosure, I’m friends with Wood and I wear my Mad Monk Doughnuts shirt regularly.

After Wood and Petrolino agreed that making a movie would be fun, it fell on Wood to find some stars. He reached out to old friend Seth Blum. Wood has known Seth and his wife Rebecca since the ‘90s. Seth was skeptical but agreeable.


“I said, ‘Well, this will never happen, so sure.”

And then Wood asked if Seth was willing to involve his entire family, which includes Rebecca as well as children Eowyn, Havana, and Scarlett. The whole family likes to act, but Havana and Scarlett are arguably the most famous since they’ve appeared in the popular TV show The Walking Dead, Seth said.

Seth and his family all agreed to take part, though they never exactly expected the film to move beyond the conception stage. But a few months later, Wood got back in touch and told them production was a go.

...to be continued...

 
Tomorrow: Pete Wood talks about what it took to turn the story as written for print into a viable shooting script. Meanwhile, you can:
 
Read the story: “Quantum Doughnut” - the story
Watch the film: Quantum Doughnut - the film
Rate the film on IMDB: Quantum Doughnut on IMDB


 

Alex Granados
is a Raleigh-based education journalist. When he’s not reporting, he writes fiction, including his first novel, Cemetery Plot, published in 2012. He served as assistant director on the Baen Books audio adaptation of Larry Correia’s “Detroit Christmas” and has covered the arts scene in Raleigh and surrounding areas as a columnist for the North Raleigh News section of the News & Observer and a producer for The State of Things on North Carolina Public Radio WUNC.

1 comment:

Paul W Celmer said...

Nice look behind the scenes!