LOS ANGELES — Tom Flynn read the reviews.
Nearly all of them were good.
Still, he needed to hear and see what the “real people” had to say about “Gifted,” the movie the Lima man wrote for Disney. That meant slipping away one night from all the Hollywood festivities surrounding the movie’s April 7 premiere, and spending time in a neighborhood theater.
It turned out to be one of the most memorable evenings during the 11 days he spent in Los Angeles.
“It was surreal on opening night, walking down the red carpet and all. It was everything I could have imagined and more,” Flynn said. “But then to sit in a hometown-type theater later and watch the people take the movie in, hearing them laugh during the parts where they’re supposed to laugh, and grab for the tissue during the emotional parts … I just cannot describe the feeling.”
“Gifted” is a story about a single man raising his niece, who turns out to be a child prodigy. His plans for a normal school life for the child are foiled when the 7-year-old’s mathematical abilities come to the attention of his mother, who sees a different path in life for her granddaughter.
Flynn came up with the idea for “Gifted” during a visit with his sister, Jan Horne, of Cincinnati. “I watched the exploits of her two girls and thought there’s the start of a movie here.”
It is the 28th movie script he’s written. He sold 12 of them, but this was the first to actually be made into a movie.
He says writing a screenplay is all about having a good imagination, something fostered by his love for books, a love he says was nurtured by his English teacher at Lima Central Catholic High School, Catherine Manghelli.
He wrote “Gifted” in the dead of winter at a North Carolina beach house. It captured the interest of actress Meryl Streep, but she was already committed to other movies. Nevertheless, her endorsement was enough to send a buzz through Hollywood.
The movie is directed by Marc Webb, who is known for directing the “Spider-Man” movies. It stars Chris Evans, of Captain America fame, and newcomer Mckenna Grace, who as the young girl captivates audiences.
“People cannot quit talking about her performance. She’s a natural,” Flynn said. “I’ve even heard the word ‘Oscar’ mentioned, that’s how powerful her performance is.”
Much of the movie was filmed in Georgia, hours from Flynn’s home near St. Petersburg, Florida. It finished production in October 2015.
“It was an exceptionally long wait,” Flynn said, “but seeing it on the big screen was worth it.”
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.