The Way You Look Tonight is a magically realistic romantic comedy with a secret queer agenda.
The film follows a man named Peter, who is approaching 30 and still trying to navigate the modern online dating culture. After a whimsical, romantic evening with a mysterious young woman ends with him waking up alone, Peter tries to put the night behind him by turning to a new dating site guaranteed to find his perfect match. But with each date from the site, Peter notices strange similarities between each woman and that first amazing date. As the connection between these women is revealed, Peter discovers a whole new world full of people and experiences that will make him challenge his notions of identity, sexuality, and love.
If you want to know the secret - and what makes the film so special - scroll down for more!
Ok....So. The truth is, all of these women are one and the same. Her name is Heloise and she's a changeling: a person who wakes up every day with a different body. Her height weight, race, age, and even her sex are constantly in flux, and as Peter learns about Heloise and the larger world she’s a part of, he must decide whether or not he can love someone without a consistent physical form.
About the Project - A Note from the Director
Hi there! My name is John Cerrito. I'm a thesis candidate at UCLA's School of Theater, Film, and Television. I started making movies when I was 19, and my first significant project was a documentary for a class. It was a profile of my little cousin, a five-year-old who was raised as a boy and began to manifest herself as transgender at age two. I went into the project with almost no knowledge of transgenderism or queer identity. I considered “him” to be a flamboyant little boy who liked to play with dolls and wear dresses. But through observing that child’s kindness, creativity, genuineness, and unapologetic resilience, I came to understand the beauty and naturalness of transgender and gender-queer identities.
The project inspired me to research transgender issues. I followed up with another documentary following four Southern transgender women of different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds as they dealt with different stages of transition in and around the Mid-South, observing their struggles with trans-phobia, documentation issues, healthcare concerns and strained family and personal relationships. I became heavily invested in queer advocacy, queer theory, and intersectional feminism, and these concepts have become integral to my morality and artistic identity.
Since these projects, I’ve been looking for a way to incorporate these themes into my narrative filmmaking. In my struggles with explaining my cousin’s identity to my less progressive family members and friends, I began to search for ways of talking about gender that would let them engage empathetically with her struggle. One of the best analogies I came up with was to imagine waking up tomorrow in a body with a different sex. To imagine the frustration of having to defend your expression of your inner self. That analogy developed into an allegory: a changeling. Someone who wakes up every day with constantly changing body.
Many of the struggles changelings face in The Way You Look Tonight– self harm, body dysmorphia, and documentation issues – are all directly drawn from the lived experiences of queer people I’ve met. I chose to make this my first narrative venture into queer themes because I wanted to create a queer narrative without appropriating the narratives of queer folk. At the same time, the changeling's constantly changing race, age, and body type allow for major diversity in actors to play Heloise, making an argument for inclusivism and body positivity.
Rather than a direct one-to-one representation of transgender identity, this allegory forces the viewer to look at gender and sexuality through a broad queer lens. To do this, the film masquerades for a time as a generic straight romantic comedy with a mystery element to draw in the viewer. Once the intrigue is established, the film develops to a relationship dramedy, exploring the larger struggles of loving a person when they don’t have a consistent physical identity. That’s why this project has to be a feature (and why I came to UCLA to make it): love is not a moment. It is not a short story. It is complicated, consistently unfolding series of triumphs and struggles. This film does not encapsulate love. But it does look to present a significant change within one person as they learn to love another, and that, for me, is the biggest thing in the world.
I also think that fearless and inclusive media - especially media that empathizes with and argues for minority identities - is as important now as it has ever been. The Sundance Screenwriters’ Lab thought so – and selected The Way You Look Tonight as a semifinalist last year. Now is the perfect time to for this film, but we need you to make it happen!
With all this in mind, I would very much appreciate your commitment to backing the project.
Get to Know The Team
John Cerrito (Writer/Director) was born and raised in Memphis, TN. John grew up in his family’s restaurant, spraying himself in the face with the bar's soda gun at every opportunity. A self-proclaimed Mama’s boy, John was raised in the mixed environment of a big southern family on one side and Catholic guilt Italians on the other. John is an MFA thesis candidate at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television. His directing credits include The Opposite of Echoes (2016) and Development (2017). He has a strong interest in LGBT activism and Queer Theory. Above all else, John strives to make a difference by facilitating otherwise ignored or underrepresented social issues to the screen, to widen the dialogue and (hopefully) affect change. He’s sort of what would happen if Woody Allen and Spongebob Squarepants had a baby – but, you know, without all the gross stuff. A sort of neurotic, super self-aware human Muppet, if you will.
Masaya Tajika (Producer) graduated from the UCLA Producer’s Program in 2016. His feature credits include Love Goes Through Your Stomach (2017) and Between Waves (2016). His short film productions include Take Care of Yourself (2015) and Development (2017). He currently works at Warner Brothers. Doesn’t he look like a model in this picture? So dreamy.
Marcel Perez (Producer) was born and raised in Miami, Florida. He produced the independent feature I Before Thee (2017) and is currently practicing improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in Los Angeles.
Julia Angley (Producer) is a first year MFA Director at UCLA's School of Theater, Film, and Television. She received her undergraduate degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins and her Masters in Digital Media Design from Harvard Extension School. She's been making short films for four years and is passionate about expanding LGBTQ representations in film. She is excited to be producing her first feature with The Way You Look Tonight.
Adanne Ebo (Associate Producer) is a graduate of Northwestern Law School. She produced short films such as Keaton Olsen for HOA President: A Mild Inconvenience, and Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul. She is the producer and co-creater of SupaShawty Girls Funkadelic RoboMagic BangBang, a satirical animation parody.
Marcus Patterson (Director of Photography) is a cinematographer born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. There he experienced smothering humidity, deep conservatism, Southern Baptist hymns, football Saturdays (and Sundays, Mondays, and some Thursdays), food fried to perfection, a surprisingly strong music scene, mowing lawns, and the best damn neighbors you'll ever meet. He's inspired by new places and interesting characters. Currently pursuing an MFA in cinematography from UCLA TFT, the gritty South sneaks it's way into most of his projects in one way or the other.
Lauren Ivy (Production Designer) is a production designer and studio artist from Chicago, Illinois. She studied at the San Francisco Art Institute. Here she can be seen about to drop the most fire mixtape of 2017. She has designed dozens of projects including commercials, music videos, and short films. Her feature credits include Cassidy Red (2017) and The Best People (2017).
Keelin Quigley and Kelsey Smith (Costume Designers) are costume design graduates from the UCLA Theater Department. Keelin’s credits include My Strat (2016), Forever and Always (2016) and Development (2017). Kelsey’s credits include The Opposite of Echoes (2016), Trojan Woman, and Search For Global Song. They have numerous other credits on both stage and screen.
Will Bryson (Editor) is a director, writer, producer, and editor. He is the creator of Milo’s Misfits, an LGBTQ-friendly children’s series. He is an MFA candidate at Maryland Institute College of Art. His work has screened at the Indie Memphis Film Festival and the Maryland Film Festival. It is an eighty percent certainty that Jim Henson’s spirit is currently inhabiting his body.
Fun with Fundraising
We're very serious about our commitment to this project, and we're not too proud to do some things to get your attention. So, as we hit various benchmarks of the campaign, our director will be completing a series of famous (uncomfortable and degrading) internet challenges and post them. You'll be able to view the videos on our official YouTube page here:
First off: When we hit our goal, John will eat a bug and film it for you. John is not a fan of bugs. The faster we hit the goal, the more unpleasant the bug. Backers will be sent a survey to vote on the sub-type of bug. Please allow us 72 hours to acquire the bug. Here's the breakdown:
- Fully Funded Day 1: A Live Spider (nothing poisonous). This is technically an arachnid, we know, but John is afraid of spiders. We will likely have to hold him down. He will almost certainly cry.
- Fully Funded Day 5: A Live Beetle. Perhaps with juice? :D
- Fully Funded Day 10: A Live Cricket. If we can catch one.
- Fully Funded Day 15: A Live Worm. Slimey, yet satisfying?
- Fully Funded Day 20: A Live Ant. Potentially on a log.
- Fully Funded Day 25 or Later: A Chocolate Covered Grub. Y'all made him sweat, so he's going to take it easy and enjoy something sweet.
In addition, here are a series of benchmark challenges John will attempt throughout the campaign:
- 1000 Dollars: Baby Food Challenge (Done!)
- 2500 Dollars: Ice Bucket Challenge (Done!)
- 5000 Dollars: Saltine Challenge (Done!)
- 7500 Dollars: Eat a Banana with the Skin on it Challenge
- 10,000 Dollars: 50 Nugget Challenge
- 15,000 Dollars: Wasabi Challenge (Eaten, not snorted)
- 20,000 Dollars: Bug Challenge (See Above)
- 25,000 Dollars: Gallon of Milk Challenge
- 30,000 Dollars+: Backers Vote (Nothing Dangerous, Please)
We know this may seem silly, but we also want to show you how dedicated we are to making this movie. This is us doubling down to EARN your support, so you know John will put every ounce of determination he uses for these challenges into providing you the best movie possible.
So what are you waiting for? Pledge now and watch the fun ensue!
Risks and challenges
Obviously, there is always a large logistical and financial risk when making a low-budget feature film. The entirety of the budget is made up of scholarships, grants, reimbursements from the UCLA film program, and personal loans, so we need EVERY PENNY of this campaign to get this movie made. And anything over our goal will go towards increasing the production value - so the more you give, the better the film will be!
But if we hit our goal, the film WILL ABSOLUTELY commence principal photography in mid-August. The reimbursements and grants from UCLA dictate that we wrap before September 24th, and further reimbursements keep us on track to have final deliverables ready by summer of next year!
We're making a film with unconventional story elements, queer themes, and a large, diverse cast with dozens of people playing the same character - which could garner a fair amount of skepticism from mainstream distributors. But success on this campaign - especially a major over-performance - would give us a footing to show them that people want to see stories like this one.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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