Death of a Saleswoman - A Plastic-Storage Spoof

Filmmaker Donna Wheeler before a screening at the WIFTI Summit

Niche film marketing, made possible by the digital revolution, is changing the face of movie-making, and that face is often turning out to be female.

Donna Wheeler used her circle of friends and contacts to put together a comic spoof of the whodunit, titled "Death of a Saleswoman,' for $7,500. Not only has Wheeler 'dunit,' but she is selling her DVD's on line, has gotten a theatrical deal with AMC to put her film in theaters, and has greenlighted herself for a feature documentary called 'The God Project.'

The film, 'Death of a Saleswoman,' is a mockumentary about the murder of Agatha Ruby, the top tupperware saleslady in her town. (Please note I did not capitalize the 'T' in tupperware. Tupperware with a capital 'T' refused to allow its name to be used, and no one in the film utters the forbidden word. However, I think the word, like kleenex and xerox, has moved into the vernacular and no longer just means the brand.) The small town of two hundred is a hotbed of homemaker-saleslady intrigue and the suspects abound.

Whodunit? The actors themselves didn't know until the last day of shooting.

The tone of the movie is dry and ironic, much like the films of Christopher Guest transported to the inner sanctum of womanhood, the at-home-shopping world. We see Agatha Ruby, the victim, in a series of flashbacks that reveal her holy zeal for plastic containers. She teaches her daughter the proper methods of sealing and burping the tub. She is ever ready to solve her friends' domestic partners by getting them to order more plastic storage units.

Part of the fun of this movie is watching the actors remember Agatha in scenes that positively writhe with buried jealousies. It turns out that Director Wheeler was the only person on set who knew the identity of the true killer. The actors themselves were not told, and even the lead actress playing Agatha, Melissa Papp, did not find out until the final day of shooting when she had to die.

There will be a second screening at the WIFTI Summit in the Park Hyatt Hotel's Chateau Room on Sunday, October 30 at 10:00 a.m. If you miss that, you can keep an eye out for limited runs in AMC theaters. Or you can go to and order a DVD.

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