When a young autistic boy runs away from his Mexican-immigrant family on the fringes of New York City, he embarks on an odyssey that forces his splintered family to reconcile their differences.
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors is the story of Ricky, a 13-year-old Mexican- American boy with Autism, and his mother, Catalina, a Mexican immigrant who works long days cleaning houses to support her family. Ricky is deeply imaginative and loves to draw, funneling his unique inner world into reams of fantastical drawings.
Ricky and his mother live in a high-rise housing project on Rockaway Beach, Queens along with Ricky’s father, the over-worked Ricardo Sr. and Ricky’s strident older sister, Carla. Every day is a tense struggle to maintain order in the face of Ricky’s difficulties and the family’s tenuous economic situation.
One day in late October, after Catalina yells at Ricky for skipping school, he panics and escapes into the NYC subway system where he loses track of space, time, and himself. As his family frantically searches for him, Ricky embarks on an odyssey of self discovery, observing scenes of urban pathos and oddity while his body weakens from hunger. As Catalina mounts a dogged manhunt for him, their stories intertwine becoming a dual narrative. The primal reaction to losing her son enables her to open up to the world and repair her relationship with her husband and daughter.
When Ricky does not come home, the first place his mother thinks to look for him is on the beach, where he likes to watch the planes flying in and out of JFK. As she returns to the shore every day in hopes of finding him there, she forms a new relationship with the ocean and with her community. Through their parallel discoveries, the characters gain wisdom from these environments: Ricky within the labyrinth of the subway and his mother from the vast ocean. Slowly she reconciles her expectations for her son with the reality of his abilities.
Intercutting between their journeys, the movie hurtles towards a fantastical climax on Halloween, followed by a moving reunion. Inspired by real events, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors is the story of a boy who is different, and his quest to assimilate into a world that doesn’t understand him. It is a story about community, family, faith, togetherness and the undeniable human desire to reach across the daunting chasms that divide us -to connect.
note: the above video is compiled from screen tests shot by Sam Fleischner, they are not actual scenes for the film.
Our Kickstarter goal is $35,000, but the project needs to raise a lot more money to happen optimally. Realistically, we need to raise at least another $100,000. If you are interested in helping us achieve this goal, there are additional investment opportunities available outside of our Kickstarter campaign.
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors is being produced by an experienced and dedicated team led by two of the freshest companies in the independent film and video worlds - m ss ng p eces and SeeThink Films.
SeeThink Films is an award-winning production company based in New York. SeeThink is currently developing a slate of narrative films based on original screenplays. KING KELLY, the first in this slate, premiered at SXSW in 2012 and will be released in the fall. SeeThink’s documentary features include DARKON (SXSW audience award); ALICE NEEL (Newport Beach audience award); THE FEATURE (CPH DOX new vision award) and NEW WORLD ORDER (SXSW official selection). SeeThink Partners are: Andrew Neel, Luke Meyer, Tom Davis and Ethan Palmer.
m ss ng p eces is a Brooklyn-based creative company inspired by storytelling, technology and the limitless potential of the web. Since 2005, we’ve hand-crafted stories that celebrate the human spirit, innovation, art and culture. With its roster of talented young directors, m ss ng p eces is frequently cited as the vanguard of a new production model. In 2012 m ss ng p eces is developing two feature films: STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING DOORS, and HOLY WATER (working title), a documentary. m ss ng p eces previous short films include TODAY (2011, dir. Scott Thrift, for Jonathan Harris), Moving Windmills (2008 Pangea Day, NA Filmmakers Award), and RESET (2011, 10-episode series, Sundance Channel).
Veronica Nickel - Producer
Veronica Nickel is an independent producer based in New York. She recently wrapped production on her second feature film, a traditional western entitled DEAD MAN'S BURDEN. In early 2011, Nickel produced the thriller NOR'EASTER. In 2010, Nickel was chosen to take part in the Sundance Institute Creative Producing Summit. In 2009, she was awarded the Arthur Krim Endowment Award for excellence in producing at Columbia University. She continues her relationship with Columbia University as a staff advisor for the Columbia University Sloan Foundation grant. Nickel completed her MFA in film production at Columbia where she produced numerous award-winning short films. Currently, Nickel runs her own production company, llluminaria Productions. Prior to embarking on a career in production, Nickel was an HR consultant, based in the U.S. and Australia.
Craig Shilowich - Producer
Craig is a filmmaker living and working in Brooklyn. He has over 5 years of experience working on independent films in various producing capacities. Most notably, Craig was an Associate Producer on the Oscar-nominated FROZEN RIVER and on Todd Solondz’s DARK HORSE (currently in theaters). He is currently working on the producing staff of an UNTITLED BILL COSBY DOCUMENTARY with Participant Media and Anonymous Content, slated for release in 2014.
Rose Lichter-Marck - Writer
Rose is a screenwriter, essayist, book reviewer, editor, and photographer living in Brooklyn. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, BookForum, and Guernica Magazine, among others. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Columbia University.
In November 2009, I read an article about a 13 year-old boy with Autism who ran away from home, riding the NYC subway for 11 days. The story haunted me and a year later I reached out to meet the family in hopes of learning more about their experience. I had questions about how a child in need of help goes unnoticed in the most public of places, and what happens to an illegal immigrant family whose son goes missing in their adopted country. With the cooperation of the family, I spent the next two years developing the screenplay, STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING DOORS. What compelled me to re-tell this story in a narrative context was how perfectly it lent itself to a natural synthesis of allegory and realism. Ricky, an 8th-grader studying mythology, is suddenly on an odyssey of his own.
Since the release of my first feature film, WAH DO DEM, I have been eager to find another story that investigates overlapping cultural environments, specifically those of NYC. A large part of this story will be set in the subway system, which is one of the most diverse cross-sections of people in the world. The city is an endless river of contrasting personalities, fashions, expressions and interactions. The other main location is Rockaway Beach, Queens, where the family lives. Rockaway is the middle section of a long and skinny barrier island, which opens south to the Atlantic Ocean.
We all see the world differently, but people on the autistic spectrum are an extreme example. In addition to their heightened sensitivity towards light, sound, touch, and taste, they have great difficulty understanding emotions and interacting socially. To me, this film explores a story about communication—an initial difficulty of expression between Ricky and his mother gives way to a complete absence of communication when he disappears. Within this absence a bridge between two vastly different perspectives is painstakingly rebuilt.
I intend to tell this story by documenting time and place in the most economical ways, working with a small, efficient production crew, and natural, available light. This will be a sustainable style of filmmaking that uses the rich environments that already exist around us and fuses them with good storytelling.
STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING DOORS will explore the adventure of an outsider kid looking for his place, and trying to survive a system that wasn’t designed for him. It's a uniquely modern story with a mythic timelessness, and I hope to share it soon.
HOW YOUR SUPPORT WILL HELP
This film is being created by a team of professional filmmakers who are working for next to nothing because they believe in this project. While we are committed to working on a shoestring, we are dedicated to creating a top-notch film. There are some things that we just can't compromise on:
$10 will pay for breakfast and lunch for a weary crew member on a 12 hour day.
$25 will pay for the batteries we need to run our microphones for a week.
$50 will pay for the cost of one film festival submission.
$100 will pay for a full tank of gas for our production van to bring equipment to set.
$150 will pay for a day of rental for the van and including safe parking for it overnight.
$250 will (almost) pay for our official NYC filming permit.
$500 will pay for the rental of a cinema quality camera package for a day of shooting.
$1,000 will pay for our entire costume budget for all characters for the whole shoot.
$1,500 will pay for the six hard drives we will need to store and backup the footage we shoot.
$3,000 will pay for Ricky's on set tutor for the duration of the fim, who will spend several hours each day teaching our lead so he doesn't fall behind on school work.
$5,000 will pay for a three month rental of a Rockaway Beach apartment that will be our production office, rehearsal space and primary shooting location.
$10,000 will pay for a professional quality sound edit and mix that will make the movie feel right and set us up for a great festival run.
- (30 days)