MARY LAMBERT'S THE ATTIC
“I wanted to write the scariest movie ever,” says writer-producer Tom Malloy about The Attic, in which he also plays the autistic son of a family moving into a creepy new home. Attic stars Elisabeth Moss (Virgin) as a teen whose visions of a homicidal identical twin may or may not be real, and Sex and the City’s Jason Lewis is the cop she bonds with. Horror favorite Mary Lambert (Pet Sematary) directs the film. “Primitive societies more in touch with their dream lives believe all illness, particularly mental illness, is caused by evil spirits,” she says. “Even if you can explain those manifestations in biological or chemical terms, the idea of being haunted by demons is an intuitive take you can’t dismiss. Until very recently it was believed epilepsy was a form of possession, and the mentally ill were accused of being practitioners of the black arts. [The Attic] brings this into a contemporary setting.”
An actor who found early cult fame at 22 as the as star of Sal Stabile’s Mean Streets homage Gravesend, Malloy appeared on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Third Watch and started writing when breaking through to meatier parts grew too frustrating. He sold three scripts and directed the bowling doc High Roller and an educational video about club drug dangers, The Agony of Ecstasy. He raised most of Attic’s $1 million budget himself after calling “literally everyone I know” and getting a majority stake from the young founder of Internet entertainment site ebaumsworld.com. Lambert came to the project after Malloy teamed with producers Aimee Schoof and Isen Robbins (Missing in America) and Russell Terlecki (Loggerheads).
The high-def Attic shot in a 110-year-old New Jersey house for four weeks this fall with James Callanan as d.p. John Savage (The Deer Hunter) and Catherine Mary Stewart (The Last Starfighter) play the parents, and Robert Een (Ashes and Snow) is composing the score. Lambert’s next task is “scraping together finishing funds” to complete her feature doc 14 Women, about the women in the U.S. Senate (email her at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested). Malloy is now packaging his latest screenplay, The Alphabet Killer, about an unsolved murder cluster in upstate New York.
CONTACT:Tom Malloy at email@example.com
Think of Car Babes as Office Space in an auto showroom. The film is a stylized coming-of-age comedy starring Boy Meets World’s Ben Savage as a recent college grad living at home who reluctantly goes to work at his dad’s car dealership. “The original idea emerged from stories our co-writer Blake Dirickson entertained us with about working for his father on his car lot,’” say co-directors Nick Fumia and Chris Wolf, who jack up their film’s tension with the threat of a hostile takeover and the requisite romantic interest.
Fumia and Wolf grew up together in the small Bay Area town of Los Gatos and made their first films as undergrads at L.A.’s Loyola Marymount University, where both worked in production for Capitol Records’ music video department. After graduating in 2001, Fumia logged a year as a trainee at the Paradigm Agency before working for DreamWorks Animation on Shrek 2 and Madagascar. Meanwhile Wolf worked his way up in the camera department on commercials and music videos and shot skateboard sequences for Vision and Grind King team videos. Wolf’s first feature spot, as camera operator, was on Bomb the System producer Ben Rekhi’s own directorial debut, Waterborne, and Rekhi, an old friend of both directors who is also from Los Gatos, is producing Car Babes with Dirickson. The filmmakers raised the mid-six-figure budget from 39 separate investors.
The 35mm Car Babes shot in Los Gatos for 26 days late this summer with first-time feature cinematographer Oden Roberts. Co-starring in Car Babes are Jon Gries (Napoleon Dynamite’s Uncle Rico), Blake Clark (50 First Dates), Donnell Rawlings (Chappelle’s Show), Carolina Garcia (Coach Carter) and Farrely brothers regular David Shackelford. The soundtrack ranges from hip-hop to country, and the film is expected to be completed by March.
CONTACT: Ben Rekhi at firstname.lastname@example.org
THE CASSIDY KIDS
“It’s a revisionist mystery that crosses genre lines,” says Dear Pillow producer Jacob Vaughan about his feature-directing debut, The Cassidy Kids, in which five kids who solved a mystery in 1980 reunite 25 years later for the DVD release of a TV series based on their exploits, only to discover that their juvenile detective work didn’t quite connect all the dots. “The three elements are interwoven, so you see what they actually did as kids, how this traumatic and defining moment in their lives was repurposed as fantasy for the TV show, and the effects of that mythology on them as adults,” says Vaughan. Kids reunites Vaughan with Pillow director Bryan Poyser, this feature’s producer and its co-screenwriter with fellow UT Austin alums Tasca Shadix and Tom Willett.
Vaughan and Poyser began their collaboration as undergrads in the UT Austin film program with shorts like Jesus of Judson (directed by Vaughan and written by Poyser) and Pleasureland (starring and edited by Vaughan and written and directed by Poyser). The no-budget Pillow premiered at Slamdance ’04 and traveled the globe, racking up honors including a Someone to Watch Spirit Award nomination for Poyser. The slightly-higher-budget Kids was financed by Burnt Orange Productions, an equity initiative formed in conjunction with the University of Texas Film Institute in 2003 that puts UT film students on projects that get sales representation by William Morris.
Kids shot in Austin this summer with UT Austin MFA film grads P.J. Raval (Room) as d.p., Room director Kyle Henry as editor, and Megan Gilbride producing. With just a 24-day schedule, the filmmakers shot the TV-show scenes on lavishly designed studio sets on high-contrast Kodak 16mm, the 1980 kids’ scenes on Super 16mm with Fuji and the 2005 material on HD. To create the sense of a show that was on the air for four years, they wrote a theme song and made action figures, lunch boxes and posters. “It was a logistical challenge,” says Poyser. Kadeem Hardison (A Different World), Anne Ramsay (Mad About You) and Judah Friedlander (American Splendor) star.
CONTACT: Megan Gilbride at email@example.com
“It’s one man’s journey to save his country,” says producer Filippo Bozotti about Cry Haiti, a documentary that follows Fugees founder Wyclef Jean’s mission to draw attention to the dire conditions in his native country, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, while providing substantive aid and hope. The film also chronicles Jean’s own transformation as he adopts an ad hoc ambassadorial role in the country he left for Brooklyn at age 10. “We have amazing footage of Wyclef going into the ghettos and meeting people,” says Bozotti. “He’s like the Bob Marley of Haiti.”
Co-directors Rebecca Chaiklin (Last Party 2000) and Michael Skolnik (On the Outs), who also produce, have been shooting for more than a year. They’ll continue lensing through elections rescheduled for early ’06 and a blowout post-vote Wyclef Jean “concert for peace” in Port-au-Prince, which they intend as the film’s finale. “We really had very little idea what we were getting into,” Skolnik says. “It’s the Wild Wild West on an island. [Cry Haiti] is a vérité documentary shot in very dangerous situations, but it’s also a dramatic story of one man’s commitment and the triumphs and tragedy he experiences.”
Jean launched aid foundation Yele Haiti a year ago when it became clear that over $1 billion pledged in international aid following the eruption of violence after the Aristide regime was forced out and Hurricane Jean devastated port city Gonaives was not going to reach the needy any time soon. His music video “Gonaives” and ’05 solo album Welcome to Haiti: Creole 101 address the deepening crisis, and the end-of-year Fugees reunion tour, also in the film, was conceived partly as a further platform. “He’s made himself accessible day in and day out with the kind of intimacy that’s everything you dream of as a filmmaker,” says Chaiklin.
Haiti is the second feature doc from Bozotti’s Article 19 Films partnership with Chaiklin; their first, One Strike for Life, about the Rockefeller drug laws, was also co-directed by Chaiklin and Skolnik and is now entering the fest circuit. Bozotti is current raising finishing funds for Haiti.
CONTACT: Filippo Bozotti at firstname.lastname@example.org
PHOTO: DAN LITTLEJOHN
FULL GROWN MEN
“He was the king of childhood, but with his future not looking so bright, he goes looking for the friend who was once his most loyal subject,” says David Munro about his bittersweet first feature, Full Grown Men, set and shot in the mythical back-highway Florida where he grew up. Matt McGrath (Boys Don’t Cry) stars as Alby, a 35-year-old Peter Pan scorned by his wife and bent on reuniting with his boyhood sidekick (American Splendor’s Judah Friedlander), only to find that his pal’s memories aren’t quite so rosy. Munro wrote the script with producer and wife Xandra Castleton.
Munro, 42, started out in advertising and studied film at San Francisco State, where he met Castleton in the MFA program. Early shorts Bullethead (’93) and First Love, Second Planet (’96) won acclaim and awards, and Filmmaker included him in its ’98 25 to Watch roster. Castleton produced his third short, Compulsory Breathing, in 2002, and the two joined forces with producer Brian Benson (Haiku Tunnel) to raise $1.5 million to make Men. That journey took them through the ’03 and ’04 IFP markets, the second time in the No Borders program, and on a bit-by-bit quest that took off after they attached Alan Cumming, Amy Sedaris and Deborah Harry in supporting roles. “Whatever happens with this film, [we experienced] a year of learning how to pitch and close a deal,” says Munro.
The 35mm Men shot in and around Hollywood, Fla., this past summer with Frank DeMarco (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) as d.p. “Southern Florida is a rich and colorful landscape, and Alby’s universe is tinged with nostalgia,” Munro says. “There’s a whimsy to the world we create, but the paint’s peeling a little, so you always see the age.” Pond singer-songwriter Charlie Campbell is doing the score.