In this contemporary comedy of manners, a do-gooder New York socialite discovers that her eldest daughter is a lesbian when she invites her estranged family back together for a Thanksgiving feast.
Hi there! My name is Grace McLeod, I’m 18 years old, and I’m a 2013 Tribeca Film Fellow (https://tribecafilminstitute.org/filmmakers/detail/grace_mcleod) heading to the University of Chicago next fall. I’m an avid writer, filmmaker, and activist for the LGBT community and women everywhere. I’m also the Writer/Director of “Under the Table”!
Inspired by my own life experiences and encouraged by a passion for screenwriting and comedy, I collaborated with a group of 5 fantastic actors and 18 dedicated film students to bring this story to life.
Meredith, a reserved Park Avenue matron, still feels the guilt a year later from forgetting to invite Nell, her daughter at NYU, to the family’s Thanksgiving benefit in the Hamptons. This time around, she is determined to do Thanksgiving right. Meredith attempts to heal old wounds by going to great lengths to cook a family feast she hopes will bring Nell, her work-crazy husband David, and her rebellious younger daughter Janie back together. Unfortunately, she has no idea how to cook, clean, or be a mother after years of paying the nanny to step in for her.
Her vision of the perfect family she thought she knew is shattered when Nell comes out as a lesbian by arriving with her black girlfriend Laura. Over awkward dinner conversation and nearly inedible food, the family's avowed social liberalism is tested beyond the bounds of charity brunches. Nell, Janie, and David feed their food to the dog under the table while struggling to maintain appearances on top, but when Laura attempts to follow suit, she accidentally reveals the scheme to Meredith. Suddenly, the façade shatters. Everything that everyone has been dying to say but couldn’t or wouldn’t is finally said, and the entire family is forced to consider that their world of privilege, just like the food on the table, might only look appetizing from afar.
I was inspired by filmmaker Wes Anderson’s signature stylized production design while deciding on the look of “Under the Table.” The visual style of this film is marked by bold, saturated compositions and a sharp attention to detail. As the film progresses, the elaborate architecture and furnishing of the townhouse emerge as important characters in the story itself. The rich color palette and stunning grandeur will ironically contrast the external perfection of the family’s affluent lifestyle with the internal catastrophe: nothing is as it seems in this film, or, perhaps, as it claims to be.
WHY IS THIS FILM DIFFERENT?
We’ve all seen “Modern Family” and laughed. What makes “Under the Table” any different? Well, “Under the Table” is a film about the families who watch “Modern Family” and think it’s hilarious – but when they actually are “Modern Family,” everything is suddenly a lot less funny.
Although liberal hypocrisy is a running theme in “Under the Table,” this film is not intended to point fingers. Instead, it’s my hope that it will spark a dialogue about what it really means to be open-minded in 2013. So much progress has been made recently with regards to LGBT rights, but these issues undoubtedly become more complicated when they hit closer to home. Although the film is set in a niche world of privilege, the message is universal: nothing is ever cut and dry when it comes to family.
This film is also a comedy. About lesbians. And if you were like me growing up, you binge-watched the entire Lesbian section on Netflix in 72 hours and then believed you were destined for some sort of tragic death. Why are there so many depressing movies about lesbians? In my work, I tend to use comedy as a vehicle for discussing serious social issues, such as class and sexuality, in a multi-dimensional and realistic way. There are many heartbreaking stories of severe homophobia in the media, which are important for people to see, but audiences are now very familiar with these narratives of struggle. On the other end of the spectrum, the media also thrives on the heartwarming, extremely positive stories about coming out to family. Meanwhile, audiences (and, most importantly, LGBT youth) have yet to see the story about the family who falls somewhere in the middle. Which, in 2013, is most families.
WHAT WE NEED
We already shot most of “Under the Table.” It was a wild and exciting four days of production with an incredible cast and a very dedicated crew. To read more about the experience on set, check out my recent post on the Tribeca Film Institute blog:
So, what are we fundraising for then? What we’re asking for are funds to finish filming, push the film through the final stages of post-production, and then promote the finished product - and anything above $6,000 will help even more. REMEMBER: we need to raise AT LEAST $6,000 in order to receive any funding at all!
The sum of money raised will allow us to do things like:
- Purchase hard drives
- Send the film to a post-production house
- Color correction
- Score the film with original music
- Audio mixing and ADR
- Promote the film and submit it to festivals
- Fund an extra shoot day to cover missed shots and shoot an additional scene we previously missed (which includes costs for equipment rentals, props, food for the cast and crew, and more)
And if we surpass our goal, every additional cent will go towards enhancing the quality of our post-production.
CAST AND CREW
PRESENTING, THE CAST:
TRACY MCMULLAN as Meredith
JACKIE VISCUSI as Nell
DANICAH WALDO as Janie
RICH MEIMAN as David
MARIE ZOUMANIGUI as Laura
LORNA BENNETT as Elaine
LUKE MCLEOD as Oliver, the dog
PRESENTING, THE CREW:
Note: Many, many people worked behind the scenes on “Under the Table.” They put in long hours on set, provided our stunning location, and made many batches of mashed potatoes from a box. I hope that many more will jump on board during the post-production process, but for now, here are just a FEW important faces:
GRACE MCLEOD -- Writer/Director, University of Chicago '18
DAVID WOON -- Producer, Frank Sinatra High School for the Arts '14
JACQUELYN GUTIERREZ -- Assistant Director, Brooklyn College '17
STEFANOS TAI -- Cinematographer, Savannah College of Art & Design '17
CRISTIAN GALLON -- Cinematographer
I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to visit this Kickstarter page. I hope you find this project meaningful and offer your support. Please help us spread the word and share the fundraising campaign with others!
Risks and challenges
The biggest risk with “Under the Table” is that we will have come so far only to fall short at the very end. Making a film is a long process (from writing to pre-production to production to post-production), and with “Under the Table,” although the first two stages are finished, our team still has much farther to go. Things can always go wrong while making a film – the audio might not have been recording, an SD card might get lost – but at the end of the day, you have to make it work. I am determined to complete this film and I promise to work as hard as I possibly can to get to the finish line. We are so close!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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