Mizzou alumnus stars in romantic comedy
MU alumnus and Columbia native Noah Schuffman, right, stars in a new romantic comedy about dating in a technology-saturated world.
With limitless possibilities, online dating is an alluring option for those hoping to click with the click of a mouse. But if you focus on the opportunities lighting up your computer screen, could you be missing the chance for someone right in front of you to light up your heart?
That's the question posed by the new romantic comedy eCupid, starring MU graduate and Columbia native Noah Schuffman. The film makes its way across the country this summer as part of various LGBT festivals, and the cast and director often travel with the movie, hosting Q-and-A sessions after screenings.
Schuffman, who comes from a family of entertainers, got his start as a fifth grader in Columbia. Rock Bridge High School music teacher Bob Bohon offered him a role as a caroler, and “that was it.”
Schuffman instantly loved the theater and took in performances in mid-Missouri at places such as the Maplewood Barn Theatre and the Lyceum Theatre as well as Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools. As a student at MU, he minored in theater. At one point he nearly gave up the craft, but his passion brought him back, and he moved to Chicago after graduation to pursue a career on the stage.
Now living in Los Angeles, Schuffman has landed roles in TV shows such as Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy and House. His new film, the eCupid, is just the next step for him.
Schuffman found out about the role through Breakdown Services, an entertainment-industry network wherein studios send out information about parts they’re looking to cast. Schuffman almost immediately identified with Gabe, the character he would eventually play. After a lengthy audition process, he landed the role and went to work with filmmaker JC Calciano.
Schuffman’s character, Gabe, is half of the couple forming the centerpiece of the movie. Gabe's boyfriend, Marshall, is almost 30 and not quite content in their relationship. Feeling frustrated one night, he downloads a Web application that promises romantic bliss. A series of unfortunate events unfolds, and, having ended the relationship, Marshall begins to realize the value of what he had with Gabe.
“It’s not an original story, but what interested me in the first place about eCupid is that it’s a new twist on a traditional story,” Schuffman says. “The aspect of technology in the dating world really brought me in. I’ve been married for awhile, and I don’t know how people can keep up with the dating world with how fast everything moves now.”
The making of the film also moved fast. All of the acting and shooting took place in just 12 days, a blur of building relationships and creating genuine chemistry with fellow actors. It helped when Schuffman ran into an old friend, fellow Missourian Brad Pennington, who plays Richard in the film.
Touring the country as a means of grassroots promotion of the indie flick, Schuffman is enjoying seeing how audiences react to his work. He says he feels more a part of it in this “shared experience.”
Schuffman came to Columbia for a screening of eCupid at Ragtag Cinema earlier this month, and the film is showing June 30 at Tivoli Cinemas in Kansas City, Mo., as part of the Kansas City Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. Check the eCupid site for other upcoming screenings around the country.
Schuffman says he doesn’t expect to change the world with a romantic comedy, but he does hope it helps start a dialogue.
“On all kinds of people, there are labels,” Schuffman says, “but this movie does a fantastic job of showing a relationship for a relationship — no stereotypes. No relationship is different than any other because we’re all striving for and struggling for the same thing.”