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In the Works: Gray’s “Jack,” Midwestern Drama, LA Queers, “Glee” for Adults, & “Art Machine”

In the Works: Gray's "Jack," Midwestern Drama, LA Queers, "Glee" for Adults, & "Art Machine"

Production moves forward in the hot summer, with Bradley Rust Gray (“The Exploding Girl”) and cast & crew braving the East Coast heat wave with his latest, “Jack and Diane” with Juno Temple and Riley Keough. Also “In the Works” are four projects trying to get your (tax-deductible?) $$$ from Kickstarter: Brandon Harris narrative about a farmer returning to the Midwest, the IFP-supported documentary story of a LA bar that accommodates immigrant transgender Latinas and queer performance art-hipsters, Anthony Miendl comedy pilot-turned-feature-film “Birds of a Feather,” and a narrative that explores the life of a child prodigy painter who got famous too quickly.

EDITORS NOTE: “In the Works” is a weekly column taking a look at upcoming films, in addition to projects in production. It spotlights films in development, as well as completed films that are taking creative paths towards distribution and occasionally ventures away from films to look at other types of projects, such as interesting new film distribution, funding, or exhibition mechanisms.

“Jack and Diane”
Director/writer: Bradley Rust Gray
Producers: Karin Chien, Jen Gatien, Bradley Rust Gray, So Yong Kim
Primary Cast: Juno Temple, Riley Keough, Cara Seymour
DP: Anne Misawa

Director Bradley Rust Gray’s (“The Exploding Girl,” “Chinatown Film Project”) latest, “Jack and Diane” is just finishing its third week of shooting in a very warm downtown Manhattan. The film stars Juno Temple (“Greenberg,” “Kaboom”) and Riley Keough (“The Runaways”) as a duo inspired by a chance meeting Gray had had some years ago.

“It’s about two girls who fall in love and one is leaving and is trying to hide it,” Gray told indieWIRE Wednesday morning from the shoot. “I was working on this short film – a student film – about ten years ago. I moved to New York City and I ran into these two girls who looked like the two characters in my short (though the characters in the film were actually boys). Their names were Jack and Diane and I wanted to create a story around them.”

Currently shooting in the Lower East Side, Chinatown, Cobble Hill in Brooklyn and other NYC location, the film revolves around the two women who meet in the city and spend the night kissing. The production’s official synopsis continues, “Diane’s charming innocence quickly begins to open Jack’s tough skinned heart. But when Jack discovers that Diane is moving she pushes her away. Unable to grasp her new feelings, Diane’s emotions begin to cause unexplainable violent changes to her body. Through these awkward and insecure feelings, the two girls must struggle to turn their first love into an enduring one.”

“I’ve been working on the film for about seven years now,” Gray said. Both he and producer Karin Chien have worked on other projects along with fellow producer, So Yong Kim (director of “Treeless Mountain,” which Gray produced and edited) and Jen Gatien.

Both Chien and Gray gave praise to their cast and crew, with some of the latter also having waited a number of years for the project to get underway.

“It’s been extremely thrilling I never thought we’d get to this until we got to the first shot. It’s been a long wait but it’s been really worth it. The cast is great and the crew is phenomenal. Our second A.D. waited and waited for ‘Jack and Diane,’ so it’s incredibly gratifying…”

More projects, this week all from Kickstarter:

Pay to Park

A publicity still from Brandon Harris’ “Pay to Park.” [Image courtesy of filmmaker]

Logline: A young farmer returns to his hometown in the industrial Midwest to attend a murdered friend’s funeral. After a long weekend of misplaced grief and reckoning for the sins of the past, he’s presented with the chance for revenge.

Production team: Writer/Director: Brandon Harris; Producers: Brandon Harris, Anthony Frattolillo; DP: Sean Williams (“Frownland”); Editor: Jacqueline Tejada

About the film: “It’s the tale of a wayward young man who isn’t quite sure what he’s made of, who’s running from certain things in his past and who has to quickly confront these things because of the death of a close friend. I wrote it in a sort of fury, just twelve days, hoping to create something that I could make on the most modest of scales in my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. In some ways, one could say its a bizarre, Midwestern riff on John Cassavetes’ Husbands, although the characters are much younger in my film and the trajectory of that film has been smoothed quite out a bit (shorter scenes, running time, fewer locations, goal oriented protag, etc.)” — Brandon Harris

Current status: In addition to their Kickstarter campaign, the team is looking for private individuals to raise equity and preparing for a late August start to filming.

For more information and to support the film: Visit the film’s Kickstarter page. As with all Kickstarter projects, the filmmakers will only receive donated funds if they reach their target goal of $8,000 by the end of the campaign on July 14th.

Damelo Todo

A scene from Wu Tsang “Damelo Todo.” [Image courtesy of filmmaker.]

Logline: “Damelo Todo” is a visually vibrant documentary illuminating the unique alliance born at historic Los Angeles bar Silver Platter when Latina immigrant transgender women meet queer avant-garde performance artists.

Production team: Director: Wu Tsang; Producers: Ernesto Foronda, Kathy Rivkin, Felix Endara, Daniel Eduvijes Carrera; Director of Photography: Ashley Hunt.

About the film: “‘Damelo Todo’ is a feature documentary about trans resistance – told through an unconventional lens of nightlife and performance art. The film focuses on the Silver Platter, a 40-year-old, family owned bar in MacArthur Park that serves a Latina transgender immigrant community. The bar has been a flashpoint of performance, support, and community for over 40 years, and for the past two years it also hosted Wildness, a weekly queer club night that showcased drag, contemporary art, and international dance music. Told from the unique perspective of a Wildness organizer and performing artist, Director Wu Tsang presents an intimate, provocative portrait of the bar as a nexus of sweeping change at a crucial moment in time: when gentrification, gay marriage, and immigration are hotbed issues that have polarized the city and the nation at large. The film looks closely at how these issues have interlocking effects on the daily lives of trans Latina women, and considers partying as a radical way to build community, exchange information and resources, and produce culture.” — Wu Tsang

Current status: After finishing shooting in HD, the film is currently in post-production. Through a residency at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, OH, the team produced a 43-minute cut of footage. A visit to the IFP Documentary Rough Cut Lab helped the team develop strategy going further. Arts Engine has provided fiscal sponsorship for the film.

For more information and to support the film: Visit the film’s Kickstarter page. As with all Kickstarter projects, the filmmakers will only receive donated funds if they reach their target goal of $12,000 by the end of the campaign on July 31st.

Birds of a Feather

A scene from Anthony Meindl “Birds of a Feather.” [Image courtesy of filmmaker.]

Logline: Part “Glee” for Grown-ups, part “Extras,” “Birds of a Feather” is a comedy film about dreams deferred, second chances and putting on a show. What happens when a group of late thirty-somethings reach a juncture in their lives and realize — frighteningly — that their best years may already be behind them? Fate intervenes giving them one more chance to discover that in life — failure is an option, but fear is not.

Production team: Writer/Producer/Director: Anthony Meindl (“Ready? OK!”); Producer: Sarah Quay; Editor: Dan Leeb (CBS “Rules of Engagement”); Director of Photography: Ernest Holzman (ABC Family’s “Huge,” CBS “Without a Trace”)

Current status: “Because of the success of the pilot, I wrote the feature-version in a short period right after we finished post on the show and we are now in pre-production to start filming in September. We need money. So if anyone wants to contribute it’s greatly appreciated! I’ve learned to ask everyone I meet for money. Is that bad? Haha.” — Anthony Meindl

For more information and to support the film: Visit the film’s Kickstarter page. As with all Kickstarter projects, the filmmakers will only receive donated funds if they reach their target goal of $20,000 by the end of the campaign on September 2nd.

Art Machine

A photo of “Art Machine” director Doug Karr. [Image provided by filmmaker.]

Logline: “Art Machine” is a narrative feature film which tells the story of a child prodigy painter, Declan Truss, who at the age of six becomes recognized by the art world as a rare marvel and ultimately by his teen years he develops a bipolar disorder. It’s a coming-of-age dark comedy set in the backdrop of rebellious freethinkers in the Brooklyn art scene and explores effects of our modern-day obsessions with hype and instant celebrity.

Production team: Director: Doug Karr; Writers: Doug Karr & Nuno Faustino; Executive Producer: Eddie Boyce; Producer: Roy Gokay Wol, Aimee McCabe; Associate Producer: Patrick Letterii; Art Director: Mitchell Hart; Editor: Doug Karr; Cinematographer: Guy Godfree

About the film: “Since I started making films in 1996, I’ve always gravitated towards telling stories that have a strong psychological aspect. It’s probably related to my upbringing in a family of Tibetan buddhist practitioners, as well as different mental health issues that have cropped up with family and friends, but for whatever reason, the idea of things falling apart and descending into madness, has always really struck a chord with me. I’ve also been doing a lot of painting since I moved to New York four years ago, so the idea of combining those themes with the story of a teenager facing a difficult rite-of-passage seemed like very fertile ground once Nuno and I began fleshing out the screenplay for Art Machine. And of course I can’t seem to write anything that doesn’t have a dark comedy side, so this film borrows liberally from my wacky adolescence and surreal experiences in the Brooklyn Art scene. As we’ve been writing, I’ve definitely started to live vicariously through the film’s main character, Declan Truss, but I’m trying to avoid lighting the sides of buildings on fire and causing mass disruptions at art galleries.” — Doug Karr

Current status: “Art Machine” has raised half of its budget and is looking to raise the other half through Kickstarter and private equity. The team expects to hire cast and crew by mid-summer.

For more information and to support the film: Visit the film’s Kickstarter page. As with all Kickstarter projects, the filmmakers will only receive donated funds if they reach their target goal of $25,000 by the end of the campaign on August 9th.

Also in the works:

Michael Giacchino, who became a superstar composer through his work on the TV hit “Lost” and won an Oscar for his work on Pixar “Up,” is set to compose the score for Matt Reeves’ English-language adaptation of Swedish vampire flick “Let the Right One In,” “Let Me In.” The film is set to be released October 1, 2010 and stars “Kick Ass”‘s Chloe Moretz, “The Road”‘s Kodi Smit-McPhee, and “The Visitor”‘s Richard Jenkins.

In a move that would reunite her with “Mamma Mia!” director Phyllida Lloyd, Meryl Streep is set to play Margaret Thatcher in Lloyd’s Thatcher biopic “The Iron Lady.” Streep will play opposite Jim Broadbent, who is slated to play Thatcher’s husband Denis.

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