By Jim Krumel
Sometimes you have to take a gamble. Make a decision and never look back.
That gamble came in 1986 for Lima native Thomas Flynn.
He was working as a salesman in Atlanta, making $70,000 to $100,000 a year, not a bad chunk of change for a single man in the age of Ronald Reagan. Always a dreamer, though, he told his best friend he was thinking about writing movies. His friend replied, “You can’t do that, you’re locked in. You’re making too much money to leave.”
Flynn quit that day and headed west, turning the page to a new life, finding a wife, and gaining an appreciation for the phrase, “Never say never; never give up.”
Now, 30 years and 28 movie scripts later, a movie he wrote — “Gifted” — is being released by Disney on April 7. The trailer is being shown in theaters across the country, including Lima. It is a story about a single man raising his niece, who turns out to be a child prodigy. His plans for a normal school life for the child are foiled when the 7 year old’s mathematical abilities come to the attention of his mother, who sees a different path in life for her granddaughter.
“This was the first drama I ever I wrote,” Flynn said. “Everything before that were comedies. I did sell 12 of them. Although none were made into movies, I found you can make a ludicrous amount of money selling scripts that never get made into movies.”
Flynn is a 1973 graduate of Lima Central Catholic and a 1977 graduate of the University of Dayton. He grew up with an imagination and a love for books that was fostered by his English teacher, Catherine Manghelli, and LCC’s principal, the Rev. Edward Herr. He recalled walking down a hallway trying to hide a book he was reading, “Portnoy’s Complaint,” when coming across the priest. “Father Herr stopped me, asked what I was hiding, saw it was a book, and smiled. He told me not to worry, that no one would be kept from reading any book at this school.”
Flynn’s mother, Eileen, jokes that her 61-year-old son was always “a little different.”
“Tom never liked physical work,” she said. “My husband is deceased, but he built RA Flynn and Co. Tom never wanted any part of the business or working for the business. His dad would have Tom clean the basement. When Tom was done, he would come upstairs with all sorts of stories. His mind was always working.”
Flynn thought he wrote his final movie script in 2006 when he and his wife of 17 years, Andi, moved to Florida for a slower lifestyle. She did voice-overs in Hollywood and also was a stunt woman.
“She basically fell off buildings and things to make a living,” he said.
But then during a visit with his sister, Jan Horne, of Cincinnati, he came up with the idea for “Gifted.”
“I watched the exploits of her two girls and thought there’s the start of a movie here,” he said.
He wrote the movie in the dead of winter at a North Carolina beach house. It captured the interest of actress Meryl Streep, but she was already committed to other movies. Nevertheless, her endorsement was enough to send a buzz through Hollywood.
The movie is directed by Marc Webb, who is known for directing the “Spider-Man” movies. If the film’s trailer is any indication, it should be a hit with Mckenna Grace, who stars as the young girl, captivating audiences.
“She will blow people away,” Flynn predicted.
Flynn plans to watch the movie’s premiere in Los Angeles in late March or early April. He said he would love to return to Lima to view it with his mother, brother, Mike, and sisters Jan and Pat.
He said, “All these years I was telling my mother I was getting paid to write movies that were never made, I think she really wondered if I was selling drugs. This should alleviate her fears.”
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.