Thank you THANK YOU thank you Thank YOU!!!
Continue to follow our progress here: http://www.facebook.com/AmericanGladiators
Hi. I'm Lara. Thanks for your interest in my project!
About the film:
AMERICAN GLADIATORS is a story that is very personal to me. The characters first emerged in a short story that I wrote almost nine years ago called "Tumorhead" and this story has continued to breathe and grow and change as I've enlarged and then whittled the story into a tale of a single afternoon--a single moment when two sisters, powerless in the world and powerless against the future, figure out a way to put all of the tension, tragedy, and unfairness out of a childhood illness on hold.
When I was growing up, my older sister was diagnosed with a brain tumor. My parents were young, almost the same age as I am now, and we lived in a town whose idea of being helpful was broadcasting your troubles on the Dairy Queen marquee or in a prayer group. Luckily, my sister was ok, or, clinically ok. The tumor remained benign, but what plagued us all was the knowing.
My mom always tells the story of the day that my sister was diagnosed. The doctor--undoubtedly pleased with himself that he had figured out the thing that was causing one of my sister's eyes to sag, and the reason the epilepsy medication was making her hallucinate was because she didn't have epilepsy--blurted out that my sister had a brain tumor…with my 11-year-old sister sitting in the room. The knowledge of this was not something that could be taken back.
Suddenly she was different, she was sick, big-time sick, and she would never be the same again. It's the moment just before this moment of change and moment of learning in which I'm most interested.
Around this time, my sisters and I were obsessed with the television show, Saved By the Bell. It was meant to be a realistic sitcom, except sometimes, the lead character, Zack Morris, could freeze time just by saying "TIME OUT!" Though my sisters and I would try and use this technique in our normal lives, the truth is, it didn't work when we really needed it to. What if someone had said "TIME OUT!" just before the doctor took away the innocence and idealism that makes a kid a kid? How would things have been different? Would she have been a normal kid without death and disease constantly on her mind and mine? Ok, she probably wouldn't have become an Olympic gymnast anyway, but what would she have believed she could do?
Although AMERICAN GLADIATORS is fiction, in a way, it's a revision of my family's history and an exploration into how kids and overgrown kids called parents can call a time-out and take momentary control of an uncontrollable fate. Oh, and it's about sisters--how they're both the best and the worst things in the world.
WHO WE ARE
OONA LAURENCE || Jean
Oona started acting at age five and has been in graduate films and on stage in both dramas and comedies.
AIMEE LAURANCE || Mae
Aimée has been acting since she was three in her Dad's films, graduate films and with the Children's Acting Academy. She played opposite Tony nominee Tovah Feldshuh in a film about Alzheimer’s, and the lead character Birdie in the short BIRD LOVER.
On stage she has appeared as Little Mary in BEYOND THE HORIZON at the Irish Rep, and as Heidi and Gink the Cat for CAA and Wilma the Wolf for Adam Roebuck.
She takes dance and gymnastics classes with the 92ndSt Y and is a great improviser and story maker.
NINA HELLMAN || MomNina Hellman is an Obie Award winning actress, living in Brooklyn, with her husband and their two children.
She has worked extensively in theatre, film, and television, and has a BFA in Theatre from NYU’s Experimental Theatre Wing, where she studied in New York and Paris, France. Some favorite productions, include, Trouble In Paradise (Hourglass Group – Obie Award); Demon Baby by Erin Courtney (Clubbed Thumb); The Internationalist by Anne Wasburn ( Vineyard Theatre - Lucille Lortel Nomination - Outstanding Featured Actress); The Ladies by Anne Washburn, Paris Commune, & In The Footprint (The Civillians);Heddatron & Boozy (Les Freres Courbusier).
Film and TV credits include, They Came Together(Upcoming) Role Models, Wet Hot American Summer, Damages & The Venture Brothers.
She is an Associate Artist of The Civilians, Clubbed Thumb, and Les Freres Courbusier.
ANDY GROTELEUSCHEN || Dad
Andy Grotelueschen recently appeared on Broadway in Roundabout Theatre's Cyrano de Bergerac.
New York theatre credits include Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew (Theatre for a New Audience), Fiasco Theater's Cymbeline (Barrow Street Theatre/TFANA), Fiasco's Twelfth Night, Balm in Gilead (with Michael Shannon), Monstrosity (13P), and The Scariest (The Exchange Theatre). Regionally, he's appeared in Servant of Two Masters (Yale Rep/Shakespeare Theatre, dir. Christopher Bayes), Henry V (Guthrie/Acting Company, dir. Davis McCallum), Ivanov (Lake Lucille Chekhov, dir. Brian Mertes), and The Moliere Impromptu (Trinity Rep.). MFA Brown/Trinity, Ecole Philippe Gaulier, and Fiasco Theater Company member.
BRYCE FORTNER || Director of Photography
Bryce is a Portland, Oregon based Cinematographer.
He stays busy shooting features, commercials, music videos, and recently wrapped the 3rd season of the IFC series, PORTLANDIA.
Films he's shot have played in such prestigious festivals as Clermont-Ferrand, BFI London, Palm Springs, and the Manaki Brothers International Cinematographer's Festival.
He believes the best films start with the script and has a passion for character driven projects focusing on story.
JEREMY ROBBINS || Editor
Jeremy is currently an MFA directing candidate at Columbia University Film School.
After graduating from Yale University in 2006, he edited a short documentary about his 101-year-old great great aunt who discovered six million dollars in her husband’s will. In his first two years at Columbia, he directed the short film Newsworthy, which won the Audience Award at the 2011 LA Comedy Film Festival. He also co-wrote the short film Stage Two with Lara Gallagher, which premiered at the Portland International Film Festival in February 2011.
He is currently in post-production on his thesis film, Afterward, about two brothers trying to survive in a lawless and frozen apocalypse. Oh, and he was selected as “Student of the Year” as a fifth grader at Potomac Elementary School.
JOANNA LAGSTEIN || Producer
Joanna is a MFA candidate at Columbia University Film School in Creative Producing. She attended the University of Pennsylvania and has worked at MTV Networks and Current TV on original programming, sales, events and marketing. She has written and/or produced various shorts including Stay, William Burns, Use of Force, Trapped, Headshots (Season 2), The Dancing Cavalier, and a variety of commercial projects.
LARISSA RHODES || Co-Producer
Larissa, an independent filmmaker working with Final Hour Films and Exposure LLC, has worked on films such as the feature documentary, Chasing Ice, which screened at festivals such as Sundance, SXSW, HotDocs, Silverdocs, and the Boulder International Film Festival. Larissa recently co-founded Unreasonable Media, a collective dedicated to shifting paradigms and solving problems through visual media. She has produced three seasons of episodes documenting over 70 entrepreneurs and enjoys projects that are socially motivated and environmentally conscious. In 2009, working under an Academy Award nominated documentarian in Bolivia, she directed and produced a short documentary about the world’s largest known lithium deposit. She is pursuing an MFA in Creative Producing at Columbia University. Previously, she earned a BFA & BA from the University of Colorado in Film and International Spanish for the Professions.
LARA GALLAGHER || Writer/Director
Lara grew up bored in rural Pennsylvania where she watched an immense amount of television. During her first year at Penn State she decided to abandon any hopes of administering justice as a lawyer to become an explorer of it instead as a writer and director. Lara wanted to make shows as good as the ones that got her through so much as a kid, and still does. After college, she moved to Portland, Oregon and helped to make award-winning ads for Nike, Coca-cola, Target, EA Games, and Old Spice. On the side, she continued to write, make art projects, short films, and music videos. Her short films have screened at SXSW, Portland International, Victoria International, and the DC Shorts film festivals and her music videos have been featured on Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and NPR’s ‘All Songs Considered’ blog. “Stage Two”, her latest short film, was awarded the 2011 Silver Oregon Film Award. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Film Directing at Columbia University and in post-production on the short film, "American Gladiators" while also writing a teen drama TV pilot called, "Fanclub."
WHAT WE NEED
Principal photography for AMERICAN GLADIATORS took place this past August in Erwinna, PA and New York City and was made possible through the James Bridges Development Award and a TON of amazing and talented crewmembers. However we're starting to realize that shooting is like getting the groceries for your big fancy meal--it's crucial, but the work's far from done...and in this case, the money isn't done being spent either.
Here's where your donation wil go:
-RESHOOTS (it's amazing how much editing is like writing your story all over again and therefore demands some rewriting)
-PICKUPS (we lost almost a day of shooting to travel and rain and had to leave the shoot with a "to do" list we're slowly working to cross off)
-SOUND DESIGN/ADR (Steadicam? Running through the woods? Traffic? Bugs? A moving car? Seat belts rubbing on lav mics? You get it. We need to close our eyes and work it out.)
-FOOTAGE/MUSIC LICENSING (American Gladiators *the TV show this time* is integral to this story as it provides JEAN with the inspiration to take things into her own hands, or more aptly--to take a makeshift jousting stick into her own hands--but it ain't cheap...$1700/30 seconds, to be specific)
It means the world to be able to complete this film and see this story come to life and the efforts of so many people realized.
Please take a look at the incentives we're offering, including t-shirts, designed by fashion designer (and Lara's sister) Katie Gallagher (katiegallagher.com):