HOW IT ALL BEGAN!
The Spirit of Independent Film
Like most great projects, if anyone told you what the experience was going to be like upfront, how long and how hard you were going to have to work, and that the time and energy required of you was going to surpass anything you could possibly imagine, you’d probably never even attempt them. Fortunately, we can’t see into the future. Walking home from being on set on a NYC soap opera (back when they used to shoot in NY) in May of 2010, I called Sean Gannet and said, “Sean, there’s a little voice in my head telling me that we should make a movie together.” Sean’s immediate response? “I like that voice.”
We had met on a fun short film he directed in May 2006, and I dug his button down shirts, snazzy tie and big nerdy glasses he wore on set – he was so serious and yet so funny at the same time. And so flash forward from the conversation about the voice in my head, Sean and I decided to meet at a Starbucks on 23rd Street to discuss the vision for this project (he would direct and produce, I would produce and act) – a web series or a movie with our friends, made in one location, maybe two, shooting one or two weeknights over time until we finished. I look back on that conversation now and just shake my head and laugh.
Untitled, we called the endeavor Project NYC XY. NYC because, well, that’s where we were. And XY because we wanted something like 4 men and 4 women in it (originally) – so some X chromosomes and some Y chromosomes. (Believe me, the reasoning and logic for all of this was brilliant in May of 2010.) By July we had brought Maitely Weismann on board as another producer and actor. By August we had assembled the remainder of the core cast.
And by September our screenwriter Lori Fischer had come up with a script speaking to the talents of the chosen cast. And then, the 300 e-mails a day began. We begged and borrowed for locations – my own dentist lent us his office, a catering company I had worked for lent us their kitchen, our supervising producer had a room in his building that became the yoga studio, our other producer lent her home, our costume designer lent the balcony of her father’s building, our UPM and AD, Ashley LoFaso, convinced her father to lend his produce stand and her stepfather to lend his radio station. Someone had a friend who had a boat. Someone had a friend who was a doctor who knew another doctor who had a sort of hospital. (If you are making an independent movie, never ever write a scene with a hospital in it. This was our hardest location to obtain.) Our screenwriter hit up all the restaurants she loved to dine at…the list goes on and on. By the end of production we had well more than 45 locations and at least 100 cast and crew total, if not more.
Every producer has a different function; during the actual shoot Sean was focused on directing while Maitely and I juggled contracts, union stuff, location issues, casting, and too many other things to count. One of the fondest memories I have is the 2-day shoot we did on Long Island. A caravan of cars trekked from Manhattan to Suffolk County to the home of our UPM and AD (the other Ashley). Country western star Phil Vassar joined us to play Randall for one of those days.
We shot a small scene in the upstairs bedroom of Ashley’s house, and then went to the radio station for an all night shoot. We had a hard out at 5:00am, meaning we had to be gone, no trace of our presence left in the building. Actors Jabari Gray and Uma Incrocci took the LIRR in from Manhattan to shoot a short scene. I’m pretty sure Jabari may have had a beer and some nachos before he shot. Sean walked full speed into a glass wall and broke his glasses in two and spent the rest of the night directing with a big piece of tape holding them together. At least one person had a mental breakdown. Both Phil Vassar as Randall and Ty Jones as Bennett Brulee were brilliant, professional and in great spirits the whole way through.
I shared a bed with Costume Designer Lena Sands that night. Girls got the beds upstairs; boys slept in the family room downstairs. Some people couldn’t hack the communal living, and trekked all the way back to Manhattan for night. The next afternoon we woke and celebrated Lena’s birthday at an IHOP, and then went back to bed and woke again to shoot at a produce stand before heading over to Ashley’s (again, the other Ashley) mother’s house to shoot in a basement closet we used as the pantry.
To this day, I love to turn to Kirk McGee, our leading man Chase Guidry, and say, “Remember the 3 years we spent on Long Island?” It never fails to make me laugh. Possibly me more than Kirk, but those 2 days really did feel like 3 years.
Making a movie takes blood, sweat and tears. It is a sacrifice. And nowhere was that sacrifice more apparent to me than those November days we spent on Long Island. I was so very proud of our cast and crew for making sacrifices in their day jobs, relationships, and lives to come make some art with us. We are super duper proud to share this little comedic gem, and we hope you enjoy it and have as much fun watching it as we had making it.