GENERAL HOSPITAL's Finola Hughes (Anna) already made the transition from dancer to actor to fashion guru. Now she's reinvented herself again by directing The Bet, a romantic comedy from screenwriters Annie J. Dahlgren and Christina Eliason and the all-volunteer cast and crew of Community Film Studio Santa Barbara (CFSSB). "This script was chosen because it was easy to shoot: There were a ton of locations, but they were all local," offers Hughes, a Santa Barbara resident who screened the picture last weekend at Hollywood's Dances With Films festival. "And we were able to do it for $35,000!"
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The romantic comedy is about a randy grandfather who challenges his virginal grandson to see which of them could get to "home base" first with a woman of each other's choosing. Meanwhile, the teen's widowed mother dips her own toe back into the dating pool and struggles with seeing her only child grow up. "It's multi-generational, very simple in the way that it's directed, and the approach is very human," Hughes maintains. "And there's a lot of heart, which is what we strive for in soaps as well."
She's In Her Element
Charming, relatable, and laugh-out-loud funny, the movie hits its mark while at the same time providing beautiful shots of the seaside town's scenery. For Hughes, the experience of stepping behind the camera gave her newfound confidence. "When I was doing all the prep work and setting my shots up, I'd call or text Kimberly [McCullough, ex-Robin] and ask her questions," she confides of her relationship with her former TV daughter-turned director. "She said to me, 'You can do this.' And it was when I first walked onto the set, that's when I thought 'Wow, I can do this!'" While The Bet continues on to additional festivals, Hughes is already looking forward to directing again and she's already got two projects lined up!