Writer-director Chris Farah, thirty-four, and producer Mike Farah, thirty-one, shot Answer This! in Ann Arbor in August 2009. It’s a coming-of-age story about a young man who emerges from the shadow of his father, an overbearing academic, by entering a bar trivia contest.

The cast is made up of professionals–Chris Gorham (of the USA Network series Covert Affairs) is the young man, Paul, and “scream queen” Arielle Kebbel plays his love interest. But one amateur has a major role: Paul’s father is played by charismatic U-M English professor emeritus Ralph Williams.

“The first class I ever had [at Michigan] was with Ralph Williams,” recalls Chris. Though he wrote the part with Williams in mind, he admits he was surprised when the retired scholar agreed to be in the film–because as originally written, the dad was “a jerk.” Chris believes that “the only reason he did agree to do it so quickly was because he hadn’t read the script.”

When Williams did read it, he talked to Chris, who agreed to give the character more nuance–he now comes across as well-intentioned but insensitive.

Chris and Mike were especially moved by the scenes shot at their old high school, Gabriel Richard. “It looks huge!” Chris marvels. “It looks like this epic building, and it’s this tiny little thing that holds two hundred people. It’s a really good example how when you film things, you almost end up seeing it through other eyes.”

Mike Farah provided crucial industry connections as president of production at the comedy website funnyordie.com. While the brothers won’t reveal the film’s budget, Chris says, “What we can say is that some family members, friends, associates, and small private investors” made it possible. And it’s no secret that their biggest investor was their dad, Enspire Dental owner John Farah–though he, recognizing the gamble that is Hollywood, insists “it was never a question of investment, really.”

The brothers will make a final cut of the film after getting feedback from the audience at a sneak preview at the Michigan Theater on October 8. (See Events for the preview and other related events, including a bar trivia contest.) “We want to have our national premiere at a major festival this upcoming year,” Chris says. “Either Sundance or South By Southwest.”