What to wear, what to wear -- that was the biggest decision 8-year-old Eden Bradley faced last week as she prepared for the debut of the short film The Secret Whispers of Mr. Feathers.
Bradley, a third-grader at Montrose Elementary School, was one of three area actors who starred in the 15-minute film, which made its debut Friday, July 11, at the Drexel Theatre before heading out for screenings at a number of small festivals.
The fantasy film centers around an estranged married couple whose views on life -- and each other -- begin to change after their young daughter convinces them to listen to her small toy owl who speaks to only those willing to listen.
Bradley, who always wanted to be a veterinarian, now has her sights set on acting. The film experience led to a starring role this year in the school play, and an audition for her first television commercial.
As she sits with her mother, Susan, in their Bexley home, they throw out ideas on how she could combine both interests someday.
Susan, the author of two teen novels, calls herself an introvert and says she is puzzled as to the origin of her daughter's acting talents.
"I call her my little performer," she said. "I had no idea this would happen."
She said she recognized Eden's talent early and signed her up with an agent when she was in first grade. On a whim, Eden asked to participate in a week-long acting camp at the Columbus Performing Arts Center the summer before her second-grade year. On the last day of camp, the youngsters show off what they've learned on stage.
Little did they know local film-maker Robert Bates was in the audience scouting out new talent.
Following the "showcase," Bates asked Eden to try out for a part in his new short film. She did, and landed the role immediately.
The crew started filming immediately, mostly in Bexley. Bates used Susan's home for a number of the scenes, which she said put Eden at ease. In less than a month, the filming was complete, but Eden would have to wait a year before the final product was complete and she could see herself on the big screen.
Eden was excited for her debut, attended by a number of her school friends, long with a large adult crowd. But she admitted to being a bit nervous as well.
"It was good," she said of the debut. "A lot of people were there and they liked it ... they were clapping ... and laughing, in a good way."
Because it had been nearly a year since filming, Eden said she had forgotten some of the scenes, and was surprised by the order of others.
"It was so long ago, so long that I thought, 'Did I say that? "
The film's debut was a success, according to Eden and her mother, and a relief to both of them. After a short question-and-answer period last Friday, they celebrated at the theater with cupcakes and cookies, fitting of an 8-year-old's tastes -- plenty of sugar and lots of color.
Now, Eden is on to the next script and a new role. She said she was asked to scream as loud as she could for the director, a feat challenging for a small soon-to-be third-grader.
"I had to imagine a sad place," she said, explaining her strategy. "I imagined I had to eat broccoli."