Funded! This project was successfully funded on May 7, 2011.

Update #4

MOM Full Cast Announced!

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Below, please find the official press release concerning the cast announcement for MOM (the full cast list is at the bottom):

Seven months ago, the upcoming Brooklyn writer Lonely Christopher returned from a successful national tour to promote his new book The Mechanics of Homosexual Intercourse and began pre-production on an independent feature film, which he had been developing with Cavazos Films, LLC. MOM, the story of a young man who hires a detective agency in search of his biological mother, was Christopher’s first film script; he had been working on it for two years. The production team at Cavazos Films, which has an office in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, was ready to embark on its first feature length project and eager to work with Lonely Christopher, the young talent who had been garnering international recognition as a creative writer. It was decided that Christopher would direct the film himself; soon Matias Penachino, a rising cinematographer and director from Mexico, joined the team as director of photography. 

Interest in the project was immediate, especially online, based mostly on the concept and the artists involved. Cavazos Films raised the entirety of its modest but serviceable budget through donations, at one time completing a very successful Kickstarter campaign. Afforded the luxury of time and the absence of any industry pressure, the production team (including Melinda Prisco, Jakob Abrams, and Jose Cavazos) moved forward in developing their ambitions into reality. Several characters in the script had been written specifically for members of the Cavazos rogues gallery, including parts for Abrams, Prisco, and Alejandra Bufalá (as a group of unorthodox “familial detectives”), but the casting of several other roles presented a challenge.

Cavazos Films is pleased to announce that the cast for MOM is finally complete, after an exhaustive search. The result is an incredibly dynamic ensemble featuring well-known personalities from the worlds of film, television, and literature. The complete cast includes James Hannaham (author of the novel God Says No), Rachel Levitsky (founder of the poetry publisher Belladonna); the producers are especially excited to be welcoming the renowned cult icon Mink Stole (Pink Flamingos, Serial Mom) as well as Janet Hubert (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) to the project.

MOM goes into production in late September. The full cast list is as follows:

Joe Huffman as Try

Jakob Abrams as Arden

Mink Stole as Woodrow

Alejandra Bufalá as Petal

Melinda Prisco as Carmen

Janet Hubert as Judy Curtains

James Hannaham as Andy

Rachel Levitsky as Rachel

Jose Cavazos as Male Bruncher

Elena Echevarria as Female Bruncher

Simon Vargas Acosta as Bambi

Karl Glusman as Gray


Update #3

We Did It!: A Letter to MOM Contributors, upon the Successful Funding of Our Project, from Writer/Director Lonely Christopher

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Dear Contributors,

 

We at Cavazos Films are making our first motion picture; we are doing this totally independently, with practically no budget, and no industry influences or resources. That’s a sort of romantic, radical idea --- but also, let us assure you, an unprecedented challenge for us and a nearly incomprehensible amount of constant work. But, happily, so it goes: since February, Jose Cavazos, Melinda Prisco, and Jakob Abrams (the producers), along with myself (the writer and director) have been dedicating our lives to this project. And we regret nothing! We’re thrilled-beyond-thrilled for such an opportunity to actualize this dramatic vision we are laboring for: MOM, a feature film we are creating entirely by ourselves. And we’re extremely serious. We know that if we don’t put everything we’ve got into this thing that it’s just not going to work. That is why we didn’t rush into this undertaking; rather, we waited until we felt what we wanted to achieve was remotely possible. We waited until I had established myself as an up-and-coming published writer (I have been writing and directing plays for at least four years and went on a national tour in January to promote my new fiction collection); and we waited until the production company was organized enough to run professionally (Cavazos Films has gone from representing a collective of ambitious young autodidactic filmmakers --- making fun and underfunded shows for public broadcast --- to running commercially out of an office in Brooklyn, operating as a limited liability company). This Kickstarter campaign marks our first monstrous hit, for which we can never thank you enough! Of course, since we are reasonable artists, rather than daydreaming hopefuls, we know we have to continue our fundraising efforts to secure enough money to make the film we want (our newly-created speculative absolutely-minimum budget being 40 thousand) --- but we have been deeply touched and emboldened by your involvement in helping us reach the ambitious goal we set on Kickstarter. We see it as a vote of trust in our endeavor, if not a downright mandate that we create the most fully-realized piece of art possible under our unique circumstances. Know this: we understand the work is far from over (in fact the largest challenges are still ahead), but we will not disappoint you. This first success will drive us onward. It is incredibly important, and I think you recognized that, and I think that is why you tendered your generous support. It would be futile to try and describe exactly all that this means to us.

 

At the moment, major development and pre-production operations are still being handled by the four-person MOM team identified above. But additionally, besides the producers and myself, an amazing cinematographer from Mexico, Matías Penachino, has committed to being our DP. Matías is an established professional with a stunning eye who knows how to create poetic visuals on a low budget. He recently directed a winning music video for an international contest judged by the band Duran Duran. We have been in frequent contact with him and will fly him to NYC (for several extended stays) for location scouting, principal photography in September, and pick-ups in November. We are also working with a technical advisor who is helping us decide what camera and equipment we will end up using and how best to approach principal photography on our budget. We are coming closer and closer to locking the cast as well. So far, all but two major roles have been tentatively cast. The current cast that we are able to announce at this time includes: Jakob Abrams, Melinda Prisco, and Alejandra Bufalá (all in the roles of detectives). I am very pleased to have had these talents (two of whom are also producers) committed from the beginning --- as I wrote the roles specifically for them. The rest of the cast, some of whom have already said yes, should be announced very soon once we organize a schedule to accommodate their involvement. I think you will be pleasantly surprised that the ensemble cast we are putting together for MOM will include names of national recognition from literature and theater scenes. We are also currently looking for exactly the right artists, craftspeople, and technicians to fulfill below the line duties --- we want to move forward with production as a familial unit, rather than treating this as the rote assembly of a “product.” So that we can continue to operate by ourselves, unrestricted by the industry or mainstream encroachment, we are also pursuing alternative funding opportunities as well as conferencing with professional fundraisers. We are beginning to plan copious pre-shoot rehearsal time for the actors who must work with the demanding and vanguard script; also we’re already looking ahead to the post-production phase and beyond --- what happens when the movie is done, what sort of life it will lead in this world.

 

 

For such a small yet ambitious project, it has been promising that the film and our filmmaking efforts have already garnered modest but important media attention. I personally take this as a positive sign considering how little information we have released about this brand new but always developing project. We have already enjoyed online coverage from The Poetry Foundation, the NY Times, and several smaller blogs --- as well as much word-of-mouth interest from NYC poetry communities and, of course, Facebook. MOM began as an intimately-scaled and humble concept for a short to be handled by undergraduate film students; it has matured into a screenplay of intense emotional scope and filmic determination that is being brought to the screen by our resolute team because of our desire to make something enriching and innovative (as well as hilarious and intellectually engaging) --- along the way accruing ever more outside interest. We thank you for being such a vital part of this adventure. It wouldn’t be the same --- we wouldn’t be so confident and driven --- without you. I wrote this letter to provide updated information re how we shall continue in our efforts to create the best possible MOM and, once again, to impart all our boundless thanks for your faith and caring and investment in our creative purpose.

 

Whilst this machine is to him,

Lonely Christopher

(on behalf of the entire Cavazos Films team)

May 12, 2011

 

PS: I am sure you have been wondering about those fabulous prizes we owe you. We are currently assembling them and processing them, so please be patient. More information will be forthcoming. Anyone set to receive a personalized gift (i.e. autographed material or new poems), know that we have your contact information and will be in touch with you as soon as we can to discuss the personalization of your reward. If you have any questions or input please email us --- we’d love to hear from you. Thanks, again, and gramercy too!


Update #2

Lonely Christopher Reading

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Lonely Christopher gave a reading on his birthday, March 27, with Emily Pettit and Dorothea Lasky (it was also their birthdays); Cavazos Films was there to capture LC's performance. He read a long poem titled "For My Daughter on Her Wedding Day." For your viewing pleasure, please find the video HERE.


Update #1

Cavazos Films Discusses MOM with Writer/Director Lonely Christopher

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Cavazos Films: First off, can you tell us what this movie is going to be about?

Lonely Christopher: I think the film is going to work simultaneously on two very different levels because, plot-wise, it’s a sort of comedic detective story. It centers around a kind of reserved and confused young man who hires an agency to find out information regarding his biological mother, whom he knows nothing of, and then, eventually, to locate her and arrange a meeting. He travels to Brooklyn when he is told his case is coming very close to a resolution --- and that is where the action of the movie takes place, over the course of two days in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. So the character’s goal is supposedly very clear. The “detectives” he meets are rather unorthodox and have dubious credentials, but are nonetheless very intelligent; they begin to question the lead’s motives as more information is revealed, and there is a very dark psychological undercurrent, through which we will investigate what family means on both social and personal levels. There’s a lot of conflict and running around, but also many almost surreal philosophic discussions and narrative tricks that will make for something complicated and exciting.

CF: Do you feel you have a personal connection to this story?

LC: Well, anybody who knows my work knows families are thematically central in a lot of what I do. I am adopted myself, although I don’t feel that that has been an incredibly influential aspect of my life. And never something I’ve written about before. I’ve never felt compelled to learn anything about my biological parents, but the stories of those who have can be compelling. But this is ultimately not a story about adoption or somebody finding a biological parent. That’s more the thematic vehicle I used to work through larger ideas.

CF: You are best known as a fiction writer, although you also publish poetry and have written and directed several plays. Why did you decide this idea should be a feature film?

LC: A large part of my creative process involves walking around and mulling over ideas --- whether I’m writing a novel, a poem, or a play. This story was something born out of my exploration of the neighborhood of Fort Greene, nearby where I live; the environment really informed the shape of the narrative, as I was thinking about it, and the concept took on an incredibly strong visual element, which is why I thought it would work best in a visual form, like film. Actually, the film began to take shape for me when I was on one of my frequent strolls through Fort Greene park; I was standing at the base of this large staircase that runs down the side of the hill in that park (there’s actually a crypt underneath, strangely). At the top of the stairs is this giant obelisk-like monument commemorating the prison ship martyrs of the Revolutionary War. It’s an amazing sight --- and I pictured a person frantically running down those stairs after somebody else. Then the story started to fall into place. There are two major set pieces I created that have to do with grand staircases --- it made sense that moving pictures should be involved to tell the story.  Because I don’t work in film very often, I didn’t put anything to paper until, coincidentally, I was commissioned to write a script by a local filmmaking collective. So I sat down and wrote it and handed over this thing titled Mom. They decided not to use it for their next project, though, I think because what they wanted was a ten minute short they could make very cheaply and tour around little festivals. So the script just kind of languished for a few years until you guys stepped in when you thought the timing was right. You felt prepared to make your first feature length project, after five years doing short form work, and I was just coming off the success of my first book of fiction.

CF: Can you talk about your background with us, the producers?

LC: Jakob Abrams has been a tremendous advocate and collaborator for years. I actually met him when he auditioned for the third or fourth play I ever staged. I was attending the Pratt Institute at the time, but I think it was the summer and I was putting on a piece called Gay Play at the Bowery Poetry Club. It was a two-person play and only two people answered the casting call, so they were both in. My theater company had absolutely no money, but we were trying to pass as some sort of semi-respectable outfit. So we stole some space at Pratt for the auditions --- we set up a desk at the very far end of this huge, huge empty room with windows that afforded an impressive view of Manhattan. It was sort of hilarious. And Jake did sides and I think my only direction to him was speak slower, then I told him I’d get back to him and hired him a few days later. We were really just figuring out things as we went along. But Jake was great --- he really made the effort to understand the material and what I wanted. I would definitely say he’s the foremost interpreter of my dramatic work. So I’d frequently bring him on projects, many of which failed for one reason or another. We tried to mount this catastrophically large production of Hamlet once, where he was Laertes. We lost the venue eventually because I was getting very Robert Wilsony with the technical aspects. It took a while for me to find my footing as a director. Of course, meanwhile, Jakob had his own things going on --- he’s a great filmmaker himself and was operating under the banner of Child Therapy Productions. Because he was doing so much free work for me, I’d return the favor whenever he asked and act in his projects. It was during shooting this public access show called Life Coaching , which Jake made, that I met the rest of you creatively. I’ve acted with Melinda Prisco and I made a cameo in a TV pilot starring Jose Cavazos --- and now the four of us spend most of our free time every day in the Cavazos Films production office working on Mom. It’s been extremely interesting and rewarding working with you guys. Because we’re operating on such a small level, there’s always so much work to be done. Every day. We’re hoping to assemble a team of interns soon before we murder each other or die of exhaustion.

CF: Why did you decide to direct the film yourself?

LC: Jakob was really supportive of the idea. A few of my plays have been staged under somebody else’s direction, which is always interesting, but with my own dramatic work I really do prefer to direct it myself.  I have experience in directing for the stage and training as a photographer, so I’m not entirely a dilettante. The exciting thing about film is how collaborative it is. But I’m confident in my role as, so to speak, the conductor of this symphony. We’re all bringing something to this film, each of us bringing something unique and important, and it’s entirely gratifying to be so centrally involved in shaping these words on a page into a moving picture.

CF: How important is the Kickstarter fundraising campaign to the project?

LC: It is vital. We’re an entirely independent production --- we have nothing to do with any industry or whatever. We have to raise every cent that is going into the picture ourselves. We need the trust and generosity of friends and strangers; then we’re going to turn around and make a piece of art that is going to be unbelievably amazing. I can feel it. So there.


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