“Film is a very collaborative venture,” says Gerald McCullouch, the director of the movie Daddy, who also stars as lead character Colin McCormack. Truer words, however, couldn't be spoken about the independent film, which is being shown on Thursday, March 17 at O Cinema Wynwood as a prelude to the April opening of the MiFo LGBT Film Festival, Miami edition.
The movie’s South Florida connection, actress Mia Matthews, who was also co-producer, said that McCullouch and writer Dan Via's commitment to getting Daddy made had an impact on how much she wanted to be involved, too. “Gerald was a personal friend of mine and this project had been a labor of love for him for many years. He asked me to play the part of psychologist Dr. Ackerman.” Yet the on screen role was entirely secondary to her heartfelt support of the film. “I felt so strongly about the movie I wanted to help make sure it got made in whatever way I could.” Part of that was helping to get financial support for the film. “A co-producer’s role is also to help with distribution, get the word out, and use any connections you have to get the film noticed.”
Matthews, who recently was seen in Miami's Zoetic Stage production of Rapture, Blister and Burn at the Arsht Center and is a television actress (Every Witch Way), says what was memorable for her at the question and answer session she hosted following a showing at MiFo Fort Lauderdale was audience reaction specifically about the quality of the film.
“People were shocked at how good it was for being a low budget film. They remarked, which is what we thought, that nothing in the film looks or feels low budget.”
The movie, about a guy who has it all and whose world takes a turn when he gets involved with a young intern, takes place in Pittsburgh. Shot over 12 days in L.A., with exteriors filmed in Pittsburgh, the movie cost just under $200,000 to make, according to the director. “Only because my team and I called in favor after favor. Keeping the budget that low was nearly impossible, but we did it,” says McCullouch. “In actuality, I guerrilla shot all the Pittsburgh exteriors with Dan (Vila) and my director of photography Svetlana Cvetko. We did it in less than 48 hours after we wrapped principle photography in Los Angeles. Finances dictated that this was our only option.”
The actor, best known for playing Bobby Dawson on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, got his start with Daddy after being cast in the original play version Off Broadway. “The writing was acerbic and mature and the story’s themes of family, friendship, and aging resonated deeply with me.” He co-starred in the play with Via and the play then moved to Los Angeles. “This is where the journey of bringing the story to the screen began.”
McCullouch said financing was a challenge, but there was plenty of fundraising including a Kickstarter campaign, which raised a little over $52,000 that was added to other contributions. When award-winning independent film and indie television producer Allison Vanore came on board as producer, McCullouch says that’s what brought the “film to fruition.”
Playing both in Fort Lauderdale and Miami as part of the MiFo festival is a coup, for sure. “The way this film is made, from the writing to the acting to the directing to the cinematography, is really what I think is getting Daddy the attention it deserves,” says Matthews.
McCullouch has his own Florida connections, including receiving his bachelor of fine arts degree in musical theater from Florida State University. He also performed in summer stock theater in Panama City and frequently visits his mother, who lives on Amelia Island.
While Daddy has a gay protagonist, McCullouch doesn’t see this as a “gay” film, per se. “Dan’s script is so unique with such a great wit and a powerful twist of events that it sets it apart from many film aimed at gay audiences.”
Matthews agrees: “It a film that happens to have gay characters, but it’s an amazing story that is interesting to everyone on so many levels.”
Following the Miami screening, Daddy moves on in April to the Cleveland International Film Festival, Melbourne, Australia, and Athens, Greece. The film, which is being distributed by Breaking Glass Pictures, will be available on video on demand following its Los Angeles theatrical release in April.
"Daddy," the third in MiFo LGBT Film Festival's GLOW series, screens at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 17 at O Cinema Wynwood, 90 N.W. 29th St., Miami. Info at www.MiFoFilm.com or 305-751-6305. The festival opens on April 22 and runs through May 1.
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