Breakthrough Weekend is an upcoming NYC detective comedy that I produced, wrote, filmed, & directed, etc with the help of a very talented team (specially with a lot of contributions from my co-producer & one of the stars of the movie Jennifer Blakemore). I spent a long time planning the look & feel of the movie. In this post I'll share trailers (& a clip) of some of the movies that helped me devise the visual & other strategies for Breakthrough Weekend.
The story in Breakthrough Weekend is an original one that I wrote over the course of a little over a year - starting in 2011. The story was originally inspired by a dream I had regarding meeting Ben Stiller at a psychiatrists office in Brooklyn. That Ben Stiller story produced the basic idea for the lead character of Breakthrough Weekend - Sal Vulpes (played well by Damien Bosco). The decision to make the movie ultimately a detective comedy was inspired in part by the new interest we have seen in the detective story genre in the indie film & related worlds in recent years. Aaron Katz's Cold Weather and HBO's Bored to Death stand out in my mind regarding the decision to take the story in the direction of detective fiction. Then I added a secondary story line for the Yevgeny character (played well by newcomer Sean Bempong). Yevgeny's story was inspired by a self-improvement story line that I had developed for my 1999 feature Wild Diner. Also several ideas popularized by Carl Jung helped me further develop Yevgeny's story - specially Jung's interest & promotion of mythic quests, their significance to human cultures & development, etc. And when Jennifer Blakemore joined the project in the middle of last year I was able to expand one of the stories in Breakthrough Weekend (about a NYC real estate agent) with the help of her responses to that story. Also some of Blakemore's thoughts regarding the self-improvement aspect of the main story helped me develop that aspect further. So, in the end, with inspiration from several sources, we have, in Breakthrough Weekend, primarily a detective story with a secondary self-improvement story. On to some of the movies that helped me develop the look & feel for Breakthrough Weekend.
First, the teaser trailer for Breakthrough Weekend (film is currently in post, I expect to be able to send it out to film festival consideration starting in late February, and then a release to the general public by the middle of this year):
BREAKTHROUGH WEEKEND - Teaser Trailer from Sujewa Ekanayake on Vimeo.
In Breakthrough Weekend there are a lot of beautiful shots of New York City. One of the recent indie films that made me want to do this was Aaron Katz's Quiet City. Even though it was filmed for a very low budged (reportedly around $2,000 for production), it did a lot regarding capturing the unusual beauty of the city. Here is the trailer for Quiet City:
Quiet City Trailer from Aaron Katz on Vimeo.
* Jim Jarmusch's movie Down By Law has long been one of my favorite movies. For Breakthrough Weekend, Down By Law was a source of inspiration for beautiful cinematography, long takes featuring interesting and or funny conversations, the blend of interest in the criminal world with an interest in optimistic or positive outcomes, the neo-noir feel (specially the moods created with the help of the music and the score), and interesting/unusual characters. Here is the trailer for Down By Law:
* Gus Van Sant's movie Drugstore Cowboy was an inspiration for rich colors, a certain kind of humor, certain editing techniques, certain special effects, and possibly using multiple film/video formats. Here is the trailer for Drugstore Cowboy:
I looked at and thought about several New York City movies while planning Breakthrough Weekend. One that I had always thought was very interesting - specially in showing unusual aspects of the city, tackling perhaps taboo subject matter, and also for the relationship between the two main characters of the movie was John Schlesinger's 1969 movie Midnight Cowboy. That movie too was a source of inspiration for Breakthrough Weekend. Here is the trailer for Midnight Cowboy:
I've always enjoyed Woody Allen's movies - specially the New York City movies from the late 70's & 80's - Annie Hall, Manhattan, etc. I like long scenes where people talk a lot (as long as there is some humor & or interesting topics being discussed, & or interesting interactions between characters), a regular thing in Allen movies (also in some of Richard Linklater movies, another favorite of mine), and there is quiet a bit of that in Breakthrough Weekend. In thinking about how to photography New York City for Breakthrough Weekend one source of inspiration was the NYC images from the opening title sequence from Allen's Manhattan. Here it is (looks great, & also with a very funny voice over):
Of course, on top of those, there are dozens of other movies, books, ideas that went into the process of developing Breakthrough Weekend. But I believe some audience members will be able to see reflections of the above mentioned movies in Breakthrough Weekend. If you have not seen any of the movies mentioned above yet, check them out - all great movies. It was a joy to be able to make a movie in NYC, capture some beautiful images of the city and bring interesting characters to life. I look forward to sharing Breakthrough Weekend with the world and celebrating New York City and the work of my talented collaborators in a couple of months.