Thursday, August 11, 2011


“Mom” and We

In 2009, international playwright and author, Lonely Christopher approached producer Jakob Abrams with an idea for a movie. Christopher had started writing a script that was originally only forty-five pages long, but it was the basis of a larger notion. The members of the independent film company, Cavazos Films, created by Jakob Abrams, Melinda Prisco, and Jose Cavazos, pushed for Lonely Christopher to turn his short movie into full-length cinema.

“He came out with a great script in the end,” states Abrams.

“Mom” is a re-structured fantasia that uses the Brooklyn cityscape as its backdrop. Since Christopher first approached me with the offer of an internship, I have been impressed and inspired by the crew of “Mom.” Jakob Abrams, Melinda Prisco, and Jose Cavazos are a group of young and driven producers, filmmakers, cinematographers, writers, and actors. They, as a team, have been making films for the past four years.

Cavazos Films works tirelessly to create contemporary and unaffected cinema, producing at least one project a year. “Mom” is their first feature-length picture for distribution, but it’s not their first time working with Lonely Christopher (author of the book The Mechanics of Homosexual Intercourse). Along with being the screenwriter, Christopher is also the film’s director.

On the surface, “Mom” is a story about a young man trying to make sense of his longing for maternal comfort in a strange city. The themes themselves, however, are much more recondite. This tour de force challenges the audience’s ideals for structure, the nature of love, and our utopian notions of family. Try, a habitual man in his late twenties, is traveling to Brooklyn from upstate New York, having contacted a detective agency with the intention of finding his mom. He isn’t expecting the detectives’ highly unorthodox methods. Through the seemingly deranged antics of his investigators, Try learns that asking the most difficult questions will sometimes yield a truth that we do not want to realize. Abrams and Prisco, who play detectives Arden and Carmen, are also the film’s guides through its transition from a desired outcome into personal revelation.

When asked what it was that attracted Cavazos Films to the project initially, both producers agreed that they trusted Lonely Christopher’s talent and determination. The pacing felt natural, yet the style was unique.

“It’s a very American piece,” says Abrams, “all about true longing. Every character is affected by understanding through confusion, how we deal with failure and how the audience will react to it.”

“The villains are internal,” adds Prisco. “The characters are all in it for themselves, there’s no good guy.”

Working on a budget of little to nothing, Prisco and Abrams are used to facing both personal and professional challenges. Even though they now interact in a brother/sister dynamic, when the pair was fresh out of college, they didn’t initially click. Yet they came together through a mutual friendship with the third member of the Cavazos Films company, Jose Cavazos, the film’s executive producer. The three of them have grown as partners, equal contributors, and pals.

“We always find a way,” says Melinda Prisco. “We don’t take no for an answer.”

The group has previously completed several short, award-winning films, along with a web-series called “Life Coaching” for Brooklyn Public Access, in which Lonely Christopher acted. After working on the web-series with Prisco and Abrams, Lonely Christopher began to develop characters for his script who were specifically written for the duo. Also joining the cast’s detective team is actress Alejandra Bufala, a beautiful and small woman with a “Don’t Mess With Me” attitude. Christopher has written a script in which Brooklyn itself, with its waves of culture shock and unavoidable presence, takes shape as a role. “Mom” embodies Brooklyn’s many communities; every culture is equally represented. The film includes Hasidic families walking in the background, members of Public Housing units, and urban hipsters guzzling caffeine, forties, and salads.

Cavazos Films has the phenomenal goal of always having their next artistic idea in mind, even when working on the project at hand. Abrams has already been sketching out the next journey for the crew to take once this one is complete. “Mom” has been their longest undertaking, it is the project for which they have received the greatest amount donations, and it is the most that they have ever invested in film equipment.

Prisco and Abrams remain confident. It’s a substantial commitment from the crew, the actors, and everyone else who agrees to lend a hand to the film. In the end, the project will flourish based on the enthusiasm of those involved. The story itself holds no unanimous opinion on its own meaning; the plot is intentionally polysemic. The intended result is that no two people will walk out of the theatre thinking that they have just seen the same film.

The further I’ve delved into helping create this intricate and complicated movie, the deeper my respect grows for Melinda Prisco, Jake Abrams, Jose Cavazos, and Lonely Christopher. Melinda and Jake are not just actors, not just visionaries, not just attentive and sincere; they are teachers, leaders, and producers in every sense of the word. They have been the chief motivators in making our project grow to its full potential. As just an intern, I count myself as fortunate for having the opportunity to learn from such a capable crew.

“All we want to do is work with each other,” states Prisco. The trio is always invested in each other’s ideas for projects, and they continually find the right people to work with, such as Lonely Christopher. “Mom” is scheduled to film in September and November of this year.