Curta Schlarbaum: “For the Love of Jessee”

Curta Schlarbaum: “For the Love of Jessee”

Executive producer of the festival award winning film, “For The Love of Jessee”, Curta Schlarbaum had a dream. Together she and director David McAbee penned the tale, and 18 months later came up with a heartfelt, emotionally charged, romantic triumph. Along with a cast of many including iconic superstar actress Adrienne Barbeau, rising stars Mandahla Rose and Randy Wayne, and cinematographer David C Smith, they transformed the story into a sensitive masterpiece, which will be digitally released on May 1, 2020.

I spoke with Curta (Nurse Michelle in the movie), who not only produced the film but opened up her to shoot it. . She gave me some interesting back lot stories and some of the films intimate secrets…..

What was it like working together on set?

We had the most fun that you could ever have on a set. These kids, and I say kids because besides Adrienne I was the oldest one on set, were wonderful. Everybody got along. Whatever you wanted them to do they did. The director and the DP they got along together like steak and steak fries. I absolutely went into a depression when that group of kids left. We filmed this in my house. For three weeks I had a movie crew in my house. When they all left, I was mildly depressed because I missed them so much. The most fun I ever had was making this movie. It was a labor of love. David McAbee just brought it to life.

You and David McAbee actually wrote the story?


How did you come up with the plot? Was it from real life experiences?

Before I started working in the industry, I was a medical assistant for 20 years. I worked in obstetrics and gynecology. I happen to have worked for a doctor that I love so much. It was the best job I ever had besides acting. I had actually wanted to do a series about an OB/GYN’s office. It would’ve been hilarious. But I had thought to myself what would be the saddest thing that could happen in an obstetrical practice? Of course, it’s always the death of a baby or a mother. I had talked to Dr. Edward C. Schuman and I asked him what would cause a mother to die in our days during childbirth? He said the one thing that was really rare is an amniotic embolism. And I went, “Bingo.” I knew I had to come up with the reason for a mother to die in my story. I wanted to center the story around a young OB/GYN. It had to do with my love for this doctor. David and I happened to be working on a pilot together and I was able to pitch my story to him. He said, “let’s write it.” We worked for 18 months on that script. He was in Los Angeles and I was here in Arizona. There wasn’t a day that we weren’t on the phone together. At one point I had gotten sick and had to have surgery and was having doubts about it. But we had already written it and while I was in the hospital he entered it in the Los Angeles film festival. It won first place for Best Dramatic Screenplay.” I was tickled that it was that good. I asked him if we were crazy to make a movie out of it and he said “yes, but let’s do it.” My husband Dennis Schlarbaum and I are the only executive producers, but it’s hard to carry a movie by yourself. (Unfortunately, Dr. Schuman passed away last month, and was never able to see “For The Love Of Jessee”)

I bet.

The town embraced the fact that we were filming a movie. Wickenburg only has a population of about five or six thousand people. When they found out we were going to film a movie there they bent over backwards. They let us use their brand-new surgical center for free. The head administrator of the hospital bent over backwards for us. My own personal physician came on as our medical consultant and all of the nurses in the scenes were nurses from the surgical center. They all worked for free.

They probably had a blast.

They did. It was wonderful to have the residence of Wickenburg so excited about it and most of the extras are locals. There was only a couple of locations that we had to pay for. The town was the best. You couldn’t have asked for an easier filming location.

How did you come to get Adrienne Barbeau?

She came from our casting director. She hit it out if the ball field. She was just everything that most actors aren’t. She’s very humble. When it comes to working on set, she is an absolute professional…I can’t say enough about her. I love her. I loved them all.

The baby was so cute too.

When I knew we were going to do the movie I did a search for women that were pregnant and would have a baby a certain age when we were shooting. We found a girl who would have a baby exactly the right age when we were filming. That baby was passed around and everybody loved her. She never cried. She was always happy. We couldn’t even get her to cry when we wanted her to cry.

Will you be teaming up with David again?

He is like a son. I would love to do another movie with him. I have another one that I’m writing, and I would love to have him come in to help me finish it up and direct it. We made a bond when we worked on a pilot called “Dive.”

You were originally going to have someone else play Randy Wayne’s roll?

When I was working on “Dive” I met Blake Heron who we actually wrote the part of Luke the doctor for. Two weeks before we started to shoot Blake died. We were devastated. Blake Heron was the little boy in the movie “Shilo.” He was a great actor, but he got himself into playing criminals, drug addicts…he played a great mean guy. We asked him if he would like to play something different, a husband, a doctor and a daddy. He was glad to do it. We were hoping this would break him out of his bad guy image. He died right before we started to film. It was heartbreaking. A month before we were supposed to film, we had a barrel horse for our barrel racing scene. It was my daughter’s horse. It was a beautiful horse who had been on the Jay Leno show, Jackie Chan rode it in one of his movies….this horse had a great personality. If you took a camera out that horse would pose for you. He was going to be our barrel horse and my daughter was going to race him. The horse was out in the pasture when he took off running and another horse ran in front of him and collided with him. He wound up breaking his leg and we had to put him down. Then right before we got ready to start filming, David got in a motorcycle accident and broke his arm. The full time he was filming his arm was in a sling. So, our leading man died, our stunt horse died, and our director broke his arm. We were starting to think maybe we shouldn’t do this.

I might have been a little apprehensive at that point.

We were wondering if it wasn’t meant to be. There was a lot of emotion especially losing Blake. That was the hardest. Then poor Randy Wayne…. he came in to take the place of Blake and at first no one thought he could replace him. Well he did replace him. He did a beautiful job. Randy is also a producer and director and he keeps cranking all these movies out. What’s really interesting about him is in between shooting movies he goes out and does construction.

I think the movie is going to be a great success. I loved it.

I hope so. I’m glad you liked it.

Watch the “For The Love Of Jessee” Trailer here:

“For The Love Of Jessee” will be available on May 1, 2020 on the following platforms:
Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudi, Comcast On Demand,,, Walmart, Target, and Best Buy.

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