Andy Warrener is a bit of a renaissance man.
He’s a carpenter, electrician and freelance journalist whose work has appeared in the Tampa Bay Times and Creative Loafing. He’s a married father of two, partakes in Civil War reenactments and is active in local nonprofits and community groups such as the Keystone Civic Association and Hillsborough River State Park Preservation Society. In 2018, he unsuccessfully ran as an independent for Florida House District 64.
But the title of successful screenwriter can now be added to the 41-year-old Keystone-Odessa man’s resume. Warrener wrote The Black String starring Frankie Muniz of Malcolm in the Middle fame.
The movie is about a lonely 20-something whose unexpected encounter with a mysterious woman brings him illness and nightmarish visions. Paranoid and desperate, he goes on a quest across the suburbs to find the seductress who started it all.
The Black String has been shown at 11 film festivals so far and is available for purchase in stores throughout the country and via streaming services.
It will have two local screenings soon, one in Tampa and one in Safety Harbor. The Tampa Bay Times recently spoke with Warrener to find out what led to this big break.
How did you end up writing a movie starring a known Hollywood actor, now available around the country?
I’ll nutshell it up. I went to University of Central Florida to study theater, moved out west to Los Angeles wanting to do the acting thing for a while, realized I was a much better writer, sold my first script in 2006, but it was never made, and then met Brian Hanson, the director of The Black String, while working together at a nightclub in Hollywood. He and I hit it off and wrote this script now called The Black String.
That went cold for a while. He and I wrote, he directed and I starred in a feature-length guerilla film in 2009. That was the time I moved back to Tampa when my second child was born. From there I got into journalism and have been doing it for the last 10 years.
I then decided to run for public office and crashed and burned gloriously, but this film happened.
How did you get Frankie Muniz attached to the film?
They were casting it out in L.A. and sending me some of the audition tapes. Some were great actors. Really some fantastic people who tried out. Then one of the producers said, “Hey, Frankie Muniz might be interested in being in the film.” They had him read for it, but it was a formality. He was really good in it. The acting is first class all the way around. The more I watch it, the better he comes off. As hard as it is to shed that Malcolm in the Middle persona that follows him everywhere, I felt like he did a great job.
Do you feel like you’ve officially made it in the film business now?
I am 41, a part-time electrician and a struggling freelancer, so I know a lot better than to get my hopes up. But this is possibly the most exciting thing to ever happen in my life besides my children being born and my wife saying yes to marrying me.
The momentum just keeps going and every day I wake up and something new has happened — like a new film festival in another country. This wave has not stopped. Great. Let’s keep it rolling.
If YOU GO
The Black String
The film will be screened at 10 p.m. Oct. 25 at Villagio Cinemas, 11778 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, and at 10 a.m. Oct. 27 as part of the Halloween Horror Picture Show film festival at Gigglewaters Social Club & Screening Room, 737 Main St., Safety Harbor.