Coming home for your 50th high school reunion can be a little intimidating. Less so for Greg Newberry, who will be premiering a film he wrote, produced and directed at the Warwick Cinema the same weekend as his Marblehead High reunion.
The Warwick will screen “Who is Amos Otis?” on Saturday, June 3, at 1 p.m., followed by a Q&A with Newberry.
Newberry now lives in Cincinnati where — when he’s not making movies — he works in advertising.
“This will be the film’s first screening in a theater,” Newberry said. “It’s fitting that it’s at the Warwick, where I was schooled on film growing up.”
Newberry remembers watching classics like “The Godfather” and “Cool Hand Luke” at the Warwick.
“That was original story telling,” he said in a recent interview with the Marblehead Current.
Movies always thrilled Newberry, who was also captain of the MHS basketball team and served as senior class treasurer.
“I loved Marblehead High,” he said. “The teachers were incredible. I remember my English teacher Mrs. Caulkins and Coach Brad Sheridan.”
Newberry started writing screenplays years ago, optioning four scripts to Hollywood studios. He turned to writing to cope with the stress of the 2016 election and the Trump presidency.
“I was incredibly frustrated after the election,” he said. “I had run for city council and the state senate in Ohio. I had a political background and experience. When Trump won in 2016, I couldn’t believe it. I knew I had to do something, so I went to my art.”
Newberry wrote “Who is Amos Otis?” — a social-issue political thriller about a presidential assassin who pleads self-defense and must convince a jury that America was under attack by its unhinged ruler and that his actions saved the world.
“The assassin’s testimony and ingenious defense put our country on trial,” Newberry explained. “No one can tell if he’s a mad man, con man or savior of the world. Not even his attorney.”
Newberry first produced “Who is Amos Otis?” as a play in Cincinnati. It was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
“The audience’s reaction was stunning to me,” he said. “People were debating it in the hallways and debating it in the parking lot.”
He decided to make the play into a movie … and then the pandemic hit. He got through production and released the film on streaming platforms since audiences still weren’t going to cinemas in big numbers. The movie has been available on Amazon Prime, Apple TV and others.
Newberry says “Who is Amos Otis?” is just as important today as when he first started writing it.
“That’s the sad and amazing thing,” he said. “The film has not lost its relevance at all. We’re still in the same boat. I think the film will generate a lot of interest.”
Newberry’s excited to bring his movie to his hometown and old classmates.
“I look forward to seeing how they respond to the film on the big screen,” he said. “I’m grateful to the Warwick for the opportunity.”
Learn more about “Who is Amos Otis?” at whoisamosotis.com.
Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.