“Bottom Shelf Wine Connoisseurs” Premieres at Front Porch Improv

“Babe….. there’s a dirty little man back here squishin’ grapes!”


Cooper Ownbey

Co-Writers, Producers, and Directors Meagan Johnson and Brenden Davis.

On March 24th, Brenden Davis and Meagan Johnson finally unveiled their joint passion project to the public eye at Front Porch Improv, a local performing arts theatre known as “Savannah’s home for comedy.”

The comedy short film, Bottom Shelf Wine Connoisseurs, follows the narrative of couple Jared (Fernando Tipacti Jr.) and Rowan (Sophia Sutton) as they “become unlikely sleuths at a high-class wine tasting that quickly goes off the rails.”

The premiere was attended by cast, crew, community members and out-of-town patrons of a preceding improv show who’d elected to stay later for the screening.

As co-producers, writers, and directors, Davis and Johnson developed their comedy short over the last six months. “A month for every minute,” Davis said before the premiere.

“Brenden is the co-founder of a sketch company called Mazel Tov Cocktail, so he already had a lot of the infrastructure,” Johnson said while detailing the process of bringing their abstract ideas to fruition.

The two initially held an informal pitch meeting with a group of performers. “He invited everyone on the improv team,” Johnson said about her co-creator. “They’re all credited with this brainstorming session we did; from there, we wrote a script.”

“Just a bunch of friends getting together,” Davis said. “It was a blast.”

As is to be expected when casting from a pool of comedy troupe members, the film’s stars consisted almost exclusively of improvisers.

“It is all volunteer, like everybody who worked on that was just doing it because they love comedy,” Davis stated. “The whole casting process was actually pretty easy because of Front Porch Improv and the community that we have here.”

In addition to the starring roles portrayed by Fernando Tipacti Jr., Sophia Sutton, Steven Meyer, Nathan Houseman and Danger Mendrala, a handful of Front Porch Improv performers were also cast in supporting roles.

Jamal Tanks, Meghan Turner, Vickie Hagan and Roberto Avilla III were all prominent background actors.

Upon asking Danger Mendrala, credited as “Dirty Little Man,” how he got involved with the film, he replied, “Actually, I don’t even remember them asking me. I think it was just because I owned the bucket, and I basically said, ‘I’ll loan you this bucket if you let me stomp the grapes,’ and then we went back and forth a lot; there were a lot of lawyers involved. Eventually, you know, sometimes it pays to have more expensive lawyers, so I would recommend that.”

Johnson and Davis also made it a point to speak highly of Harden Creative, a company local to Hilton Head, SC, that specializes in producing commercial video and cinematography.

“We were really lucky that Harden Creative jumped in. That’s Trevor Harden- he’s the reason that it looks absolutely stunning,” Johnson acclaimed as Davis nodded in agreement. “They were excited to work on comedy; We were excited to work with them.”

The next venture of Meagan and Brenden’s careers is right around the corner, as they were both cast in an up-and-coming horror film titled “By Appointment Only.” The project begins filming on April 19th under the production of Harden Creative. “It’s an independently funded project,” Johnson mentioned. For those interested in getting involved, the Kickstarter can be found on Harden Creative’s website.

As of Sunday, March 26th, the six-minute short film can be viewed for free on Front Porch Improv TV’s YouTube channel.

Savannah’s indie filmmaking culture has thrived in recent weeks as the community gathered to support Bottom Shelf Wine Connoisseurs. For future updates on the local arts, visit the websites of Front Porch Improv, Mazel Tov Cocktail, and Harden Creative, along with the Instagram accounts of Brenden Davis (@brendenmdavis) and Meagan Johnson (@meaganxjohnson).