Number One With a Bullet

Jack Reade is a mild-mannered academic who finally has a chance to publish his own Great American Novel. But just as he thinks his tome will see print, Pete Willoughby, a smug and influential editor, informs Jack that the book will remain locked in publishing purgatory. After an accident befalls Pete, Jack forges a desperate alliance with Carrie Singer, a disgruntled employee who also happens to be the book’s number-one fan. Together, they concoct an insane scheme to cover up Pete’s death and greenlight the book. Unfortunately, the publishing process is chock full of required approvals, and before long, other denizens of Dennison Publishing begin to fall prey to “accidents.”

  • William R. Coughlan
    Director
    Tex: Wisdom of the Old West, Number One With a Bullet
  • William R. Coughlan
    Writer
    Tex: Wisdom of the Old West, Number One With a Bullet
  • Bjorn Munson
    Writer
  • Joy Haynes
    Producer
  • Erik Synnestvedt
    Key Cast
  • Jennifer Massey
    Key Cast
  • Heather Whitpan
    Key Cast
  • Adam Young
    Crew
  • Project Type:
    Short
  • Genres:
    Comedy, Romance, Dark Comedy
  • Runtime:
    19 minutes 42 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 15, 2010
  • Production Budget:
    7,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    1.85:1
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • TIVA Peer Awards 2010
    Washington, DC
    United States
    November 13, 2010
    Gold Award: Directing - Fiction Short | Gold Award: Scriptwriting - Fiction Short | Silver Award: Independent Short | Bronze Award: Editing - Fiction | Nominee: Best of DC
  • First Rule of Film Club Indie Showcase
    Widnes
    United Kingdom
    November 11, 2016
    World Premiere
  • Central Michigan International Film Festival
    Mount Pleasant, Michigan
    United States
    February 12, 2017
    Michigan Premiere
  • Indiana Comic Con Film Festival
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    United States
    April 14, 2017
    North American Premiere
  • Ocean City Film Festival
    Ocean City, Maryland
    United States
    June 9, 2017
    Maryland Premiere
  • Tampa Bay Comic Con Film Festival
    Tampa, Florida
    United States
    July 29, 2017
    Florida Premiere
  • San Francisco Comic Con Film Festival
    San Francisco, California
    United States
    September 1, 2017
    California Premiere
  • Movie Night at the Evening Star Cafe
    Alexandria, VA
    United States
    May 27, 2018
Director Biography - William R. Coughlan

William R. Coughlan is an award-winning screenwriter and director, and founder and CEO of independent video production company Tohubohu Productions, LLC. He worked for several years with The Advisory Board Company (and its offshoot companies, CEB and EAB) in Washington, D.C., where he began as a graphic designer before creating a full-service in-house video and multimedia department, and then eventually moving into the ranks of creative department management. In addition, he provides creative oversight for the global public affairs firm EGA, is the Creative Director of Jabberwocky Audio Theater, and served for several years on the Board of Directors for TIVA, the Television, Internet, and Video Association of DC, Inc., filling the roles of Treasurer and Vice President before finishing his tenure as President. He also enjoys acting, voiceover performance, design and illustration, editing, animation, and writing autobiographical comments in the third person. He is the illustrator of the therapeutic workbook Stories for Children with Problems & Wishes, has provided schematic graphics for several HBS case studies, designed the acclaimed Protégé clay poker chip line, served as the Critic at Large for the online literary magazine Inkblots, has been a judge for both the TIVA Peer Awards and the Emmy Awards, founded and co-hosted the long-running Tohubohu Producer Podcast, and is an accomplished animator and ambigram artist. He currently resides at a secret compound in Northern Virginia.

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Director Statement

“Number One With a Bullet” started life as a more modest piece, one of two scripts I wrote with the intent of making a short with principal photography occurring over a single weekend (to take advantage of a rare window of availability for our regular troupe of cast and crew). This particular tale was inspired by a casual conversation about the bizarre little fiefdoms that existed in the publishing world, and the quirky personalities that ran each of them. But when both scripts proved problematic — or at least enough so that I wouldn’t be able to finish them before the scheduled weekend — I reluctantly shelved them. (I ended up making the short film “The Big Lie” instead; it remains to be seen whether or not the second script I wrote during that period, “Some Kind of Hero,” will ever see the light of day.) Over lunch a few years later, Bjorn Munson asked if I’d mind if he took a look at “Number One With a Bullet” to see if it might be worth reviving, with an eye toward producing what he termed a “signature short”: something to serve as a Tohubohu calling card. To this day I’m very glad he did. While keeping the overall beats of the story intact (not to mention the dark-comedy tone and rapid-fire banter), he expanded the script significantly, refining characters and providing a clearer sense of motivation for our protagonist. (A staged reading hosted by writer/director Barry Gribble also gave us substantial additional feedback for revision.) Ultimately, the production proved far more expansive than we’d originally anticipated — this would be our first film shot in HD (though a few other HD shorts would be released first, given this film’s extensive postproduction work), and our first produced under a full SAG Low-Budget Short Film contract. But with experienced producer Joy Haynes on board — and a stellar cast assembled by Bjorn in his casting-director capacity — we ended up with a film that was about as close as we could have expected to the original intent. Filmed at the actual offices of The Atlantic in Washington, D.C. (thanks to Atlantic Media owner David G. Bradley), the film went on to win special acclaim at the 2010 TIVA Peer Awards, and continues to make appearances on the film festival circuit. A fun, entertaining film — though (as my writer friends will no doubt point out) it bears little resemblance to the real world of book publishing… I think…