We Talk Who’s Jenna…? With Tom Baldinger

Writer/director Tom Baldinger gives us the 411 on the research required before pen to paper on romantic-comedy Who’s Jenna…?
Photography by Laura Madsen.

For those who haven’t seen the film how would you describe it?
What starts out as a simple love story turns into a pretty fun and wacky romantic-comedy. The two main characters are pretty stable individuals and everyone else is little off the wall. It’s not about the adult film industry and we are very careful in addressing the topic in a comical and respectful way. There’s an important message in the movie about those who pre-emptively judge people without really getting to know them.

And is it based on the real-life porn star of the same name? Or purely coincidental?
Oh no! The title of the film is “Who’s Jenna…?” and we did that for a specific reason. Without giving anything away all I can say is that we have some fun with the title throughout the movie. But in no way is this film about a specific real-life porn star. The film does address the pro’s & cons of that industry and Joesph D’Onofrio’s character has some great insight that some fans of the industry will share!

Did you do any, ahem, research before putting pen to paper on the script?
Research! HA! That’s great! Ummm….Let’s just say that almost every male crew member had their own input when it came to any re-writes. Actually when I wrote the script it was originally to be done as a short film. I was inspired by a true story that one of my family members who’s in news brought to my attention.

Have you heard from anyone directly involved in the porn industry? Have they been any help to you when crafting the movie?
Yes I did. Amber Lynn who will be making a cameo in the film was a great person to talk to about the project. In fact when I told her what the plot and message was I remember her saying “That’s great Tom! You hit the nail on the head!”. I even spoke to another iconic male porn star who gave me his thumbs up on the project.

Why did New Jersey, as a backdrop, suit this particular story?
I’m from NJ and still live there. The state has some wonderful locations and being that my company 624 Productions is a member of the Chamber of Commerce in Somerset County, we received a lot of support from local businesses when using their facilities to shoot certain scenes.

Great to see Vincent Pastore in there! Who does he play?
Vincent Pastore plays Joseph D’Onofrio’s father in a flashback scene that takes place in 1975. Garry Pastore brought him to us and I was so excited to hear that His scenes really kick off the film! They are very funny and his performance was spot on with what I wrote! It was such an great experience and a pleasure working with Vincent. I hope to have the chance to work with him on future projects.

Had you worked with most of the cast before? Are they all old friends or did they come to you by auditions and offers?
No. I never worked on a project with any of the main cast members before this film. Some of the minor characters I have. Jeremy Gilbert and I went to college together, he plays Bill Sorvino’s father in the same scenes with Vincent Pastore. Jen Jacob and Jill Christy Reiss both worked on my first short film. The same goes for Ronnie Marmo & Kevin Carr. It was nice having those folks back on set. When it came to Bill Sorvino, Garry Pastore & Mike Tota I already had a friendship with them and I knew their work so casting them in their respective roles was easy. Casting Tracey is a funny story. I met Tracey at the Action on Film Festival. I remember seeing her walk up to stage to receive an award and I turned to my wife and said “We found our Jenna!” For the others like Joseph, Vincent, Lenny, Vic and Edwin it was a mix of recommendations from either a cast member or a crew member. To be honest, this was a real team effort the way it came together. Each actor & crew member really brought their ‘A’ game to set and we all had such a great time with each other in bringing this story to life that it made my job as the director/writer incredibly easy! My hope is that audiences have as much fun watching this film as we did making it!