By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Sep 22, 2004 at 5:24 AM

{image1}HBO's "Six feet Under" recently took its last breath for the season, but Andy Gorzalski's short film "Wake" -- which also takes place in a funeral home -- is about to enliven the short film circuit.

Gorzalski lives in Los Angeles, but he grew up on Milwaukee's South Side and wanted to introduce the rest of the world to - and playfully poke fun at -- the unique bowling-and-fish-fry culture.

"Wake" was filmed in a nearly condemned Bay View warehouse that Gorzalski and his production team of Milwaukeeans transformed into the hip-and-retro set of the film, Regardis Funeral Home.

"The production team built an entire funeral home through marathon sessions of construction and many trips to Home Depot," says Gorzalski. "The production was consistently challenged ... takes would need to pause for asbestos cleaning."

But after a month of filming, and a lot of patience with the warehouse's slow and scary elevator, the 11-minute short film was in the can.

Gorzalski plans to enter his film in the progressive film festival called Slamdance, as well as numerous other underground venues. "I'd love to be back soon in Milwaukee and have a premiere during a gallery night," he says.

"Wake" is a black comedy starring Gorzalski as Ben, a 20-something who attends his girlfriend's wake to tell her that, had she lived, he would have popped the question. To his surprise, Trip (Todd Bishop) shows up to find out if the "dead Jill" wants to get back together. All the while, Kevin (Ryan Plato) is the slacker funeral director screwing up everything from the corpse's name to the wiring shut of her jaw.

"Like a lot of directors, I thought it would be funny to objectify a woman," says Gorzalski. "But I wanted to take that generalization and practice so far as to have her be non-existent, a cold slab."

The film's humor ranges wildly, from the tongue-and-cheek groaner of a last line to very subtle nuances, like Kevin's distracting and bizarre dangly earring.

The immaculate set and the acting are the film's strengths. Gorzalski plays a Ross (from "Friends") kind of character: nerdy, preppy, annoying but cute. Trip, on the other hand, is smarmy, almost like he's trying to score with the female stiff.

By removing the usual melancholy aspects of a wake, the film "Wake" exposes provocative concepts, covert feminist commentary and casketloads of comedy.

"I always wanted to make a silly late night movie you can find on channel 18 and skip homework over, hopefully we did that," says Gorzalski.

If this is the wake, we're fired up for the funeral.

The "Wake" Web site is

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.