Watch Out, the best-selling cult classic novel by celebrated author Joseph Suglia, is currently being adapted into a film by none other than Steve Balderson. An absolutely perfect candidate for the adaptation, Balderson has already secured himself a spot on the cult classic map with his films Pep Squad (1995) and Firecracker (2005).

Watch Out is the story of a man named Jonathan Barrows, played by Nashville’s own Matt Riddlehoover (To A Tee and Bookends), who literally falls in love with himself and goes on to carry out a relationship with a blow up doll that resembles him. After a series of encounters with quite unique and surreal characters, Barrows goes on to assassinate the world’s most beloved pop star, Britney Spears.

In regards to why he chose Riddlehoover for the lead role, Balderson explains, "For me it’s all instinct and synchronicity...Matt called to tell me he had to play [Barrows]. While I was talking to him, my call-waiting beeped in and it was author Joseph Suglia who asked me if I’d considered Riddlehoover for the lead. I was stunned. Riddlehoover and Suglia hadn’t known each other and this was totally out of the blue. Suglia explained his aesthetic inspiration for the character (a character in Kenneth Anger’s 1947 film Fireworks), and Riddlehoover looks exactly like this guy! So when Suglia saw Riddlehoover’s picture...he had to tell me to check him out. Little did he know I was on the other line talking to him! It was clearly a signal. I cast him right away."

Other actors in this fine cast of characters include Peter Stickles (Shortbus and The Girl Next Door), Amy Kelly (Pep Squad and Firecracker) and Jeff Dylan Graham (A Pound of Flesh and Psychosomatika). These are all extremely versatile actors, so Watch Out has the potential to be spectacular, based on the content and talent.

"I am very excited to play this part," says Stickles, who is playing the role of Brian, part of a couple that Barrows meets at a restaurant and who Balderson described as a sensitive, 90s kind of guy. "Normally I don’t play characters that are this extreme...I am looking forward to playing a part that has a little meat on his bones."

Anyone who has read the novel knows just how gritty and no-holds-barred Watch Out is, but that did not scare Balderson from co-writing and directing the film it in the least.

"When I first read the novel I thought half of it was totally un-filmable," declares Balderson, "I don’t mean because it’s filled with overly explicit, sometimes gruesome and outrageously witty material...I mean, technically...there are several aspects that are very difficult to successfully accomplish cinematically. Those challenges are part of my strong attraction to the material. I just trust my instincts and believe that everything happens for a reason."

Balderson has presented himself to the world as a fearless and passionate auteur and there is a lot of buzz around this latest project of his. The cool thing about the story is that it will appeal to various audiences, from the GLBT community to cult film lovers and from intellectuals to those of us who have an opinion or two about pop culture itself.

"I feel honored to be in Watch Out and to be a part of Jonathan’s insane journey," says Stickles.

The film is being shot on location in Kansas. Balderson expects it will take roughly 25 days to shoot and we can expect the release of the film around this time next year. So keep your eyes open for Watch Out, a film adaptation that is sure to knock your socks off!

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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