So Red Pearl, you know the indelible indie feature film I acted in and did the costume design for this past summer, well the rough cut has been sent into the SXSW & Tribeca Film Festivals for review! Fingers crossed it makes it into either or both of these awesome festivals! EEEEEK!
<—Here is the postcard image the directors sent out to the Kickstarter funders.
The film is currently picture locked and awaiting it’s finishing touches, such as the sound lock, amazing custom score from my friend and fellow Syracuse University graduate, Steve Woodzell, whose work is really exciting and so having him onboard is an extraordinary thing ;D The film should be finished by summer 2015 at the latest. In the meantime, please check out the website and here are some stillz.
So, some major news in my several month lull here on my good ole blog. I was cast as the lead in an independent feature film shooting this summer out West. Not only am I acting in this film, as a fashion designer starting her life post-college, I am also the costume designer (think Tim Burton-cum-Wes Anderson-cum- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind! This is the gelling of all of my work in fashion and acting over the last ten years and I couldn’t be more ecstatic and ready to put in my A-game. Shooting starts in one month and we are seeking KICKSTARTER donations to get this underway. The film, entitled, Red Pearl, was written by two fantastic award-winning filmmakers & screenwriters over the last two years. You can read more about the project below and if you feel so inclined, please donate ! There are fifteen days left of our Kickstarter campaign.
R E D P E A R L
A young fashion designer starting her first job in a new city finds herself uninspired and involved with unwanted drama.
Red Pearl is a feature film written and directed by award-winning filmmakers starring Desira Pesta.
Production Update!! We’ve got Mondo! Project Runway’s Denver native, Mondo Guerra,will be making a cameo appearance in our film. Thanks to Mondo and Remy for your time and support!
About the Movie
Red Pearl tells the story of an aspiring young fashion designer starting her first job in a new city. Struggling to find her place in the world, she becomes involved with unwanted drama and ends up lonely and uninspired. The dramatic comedy has a little bit of everything: fashion, art, romance, jealousy, quirky roadside attractions, and even a bar fight!
Let’s set the scene….
Arriving in Denver is young Scarlet, fresh out of fashion school in fabulous Columbus, aspiring to be a successful couture designer. Her confidence is high: she is wide-eyed and prepared for independence in the post-college stage of life. Ready to make her big dreams come true, she takes her first job designing costumes for the world-renowned Central City Opera, a mountain-town establishment nestled between old-west culture and history, and modern-day slot machines.
Almost immediately Scarlet finds herself immersed in difficult situations where she must decide how to handle the cold, demanding scene shop boss and her snickering, judgmental co-workers. She must choose whether or not to reciprocate a mutual attraction with her neighbor: the gorgeous- but married- Carlos.
While navigating the drama of work and sex, she seeks comfort in her aspiring musician friend Julian and her cynical-but-lovable landlord Dorian. Just when Scarlet is feeling better about the possibilities of her future in this new place, she finds herself shamed by those around her. Spiraling into despair, Scarlet must decide how she will confront disappointment, rejection, and morality-questioning debacles as she seeks to reconfigure her sense of identity.
Jess McGaugh and Stacy Barton have been friends since 2005 when they became roommates during grad school at Syracuse University in New York. We began collaborating immediately on projects while sharing an editing studio in our house off Westcott Street. The snowy winters allowed for an immersion into filmmaking, and it was only a matter of time before we would venture into the world of narrative features. Working together training tomorrow’s filmmakers, we began writing Red Pearl, deeply inspired by the city and mountains surrounding us from our 8th floor, shared downtown office at CU Denver.
Pre-production started earlier this year and we are shooting the film this June 2014. Distribution and exhibition plans for the project include film festivals, DVD sales, Internet streaming, and VOD markets.
Desira Pesta is an East Coast-bred visual and performance artist & writer who was raised by two bikers in the woods of Scranton, Pennsylvania. She started acting and writing as a child, finding she preferred perfecting Southern characters, dressing as a male, or taking on the role of an orphan witch in home videos & recordings she created in lieu of “normal” teenager activities.
Desira received a BFA in Fine Art from Syracuse University with a minor in Interior Architecture. After college, Desira moved to NYC and as a self-taught seamstress, she started working as an independent fashion designer, finally producing a small ready-to-wear line she sold throughout the US, Australia, the U.K. & Japan from 2005 to present. Ever a performer, the screen beckoned her back and with tremendous good luck and hard work, she was invited to join The Screen Actors Guild in 2009.
As a fashion & costume designer, Desira’s clothing company, started in 2004, has become a favorite amongst indie lovers and Desira was one of the final 25 possible contestants for Project Runway Seasons 7 & 8. With a natural knack for all things creative, she has lived an alternative lifestyle, supporting herself solely through creative hands-on endeavors & projects.
Why are we making this movie?
As adventurers ourselves, we closely identify with our lead character Scarlet who is exploring the difficulties of following big dreams. Both of us, as filmmakers and educators, have picked up and moved to brand new cities multiple times throughout our lives in search of our individual paths to success. The overwhelming process of immersing oneself into an unfamiliar environment with no friends or family to fall back on is a life-forming experience like no other. We want to visualize the struggle of a young woman on her quest of learning who she is and what she is capable of in a difficult environment.
Since the fates have brought us, the filmmakers, together once again professionally in such a comforting and positive way, we decided to collaborate to tell a story that takes some of our own lived dramas and puts them on the big screen (with other dramatic, fictional embellishments of course! After all, this is the movies!)
As now residents of Denver, Colorado, we love our city. We also love art and fashion. We are proud of the Denver fashion stars and potential for growth that is coming into its own here, and we feel the up-and-coming fashion scene in Denver is notable and worthy of featuring and promoting in our movie. In Red Pearl, we are collaborating with some up-and-coming local designers as well as established, local fashion publications and entities.
What will the money be used for?
Feature filmmaking is very expensive. We are planning to work with a very low budget while maintaining high production value. Will $6K cover our entire budget? Heck to the NO. We’d love to raise more, much more, but $6K will get us moving forward as we continue to fundraise and get closer to production. Here is how we will be spending the money more specifically:
$1,500 SAG/AFTRA Actor Fee
$500 Travel funds for Lead SAG/AFTRA Actor
$1,200 Additional primary cast Actor Fees
$800 Production Insurance
$1,000 Production Audio Recordist/Engineer
$1,000 Lens’, Dolly Track, Car Mount Rental
Kickstarter Total $6,000
Additional costs included in our production budget but not within our immediate Kickstarter goal:
And this doesn’t even including our post-production budgetary needs!
Other Ways to Support the Film
If you are unable or unwilling to give cash, and want to help see the film go further, there is plenty you can do to support Red Pearl. We need to feed the crew for over 2 weeks, so in-kind donations of food would be helpful, either in the form of paying for or providing local catering, or through gift cards from Costco, Target, Wal-Mart, etc. We are also in search of donations including sewing busts, fabric, and event chairs and risers, just to name a few. Additionally, we are in need of the temporary use of 2 custom cars: an old, beaten-up pick-up truck, and a work-in-progress, classic, detailed convertible.
Another way you can support Red Pearl is to host a screening of the film in your community. We want the world to see our movie!
Thank you so much for your interest and support in our project, Red Pearl. You are giving us an opportunity to follow our dreams and to advance us to the next important stage in our filmmaking careers!
Jess and Stacy
Risks and challenges
Risks and challenges associated with this film are standard for every production since the beginning of cinema. Some of these production risks include bad weather, equipment malfunction, actor absence, computer software glitches, and location audio problems.
For those of you who have film experience, you already know that things happen that are out of your control. However, being prepared with a backup plan will help in operating a smooth film set while crafting excellent images, sound and performances.
We have a back-up plan, and a back-up for our back-up.
Call it winter blues, call it writer’s block, I have been been working less in the last month after the holidays than usual. These moments of less activity kind of bum me out, but I think I am winding down from a crazypants year of hyper-activity! I have to remind myself what I have done because whenever I am feeling “lazy”, I mull over my past projects in my mind and go, “Oh!, right, I did that.”
That refers to my being cast as Ann Marie, Ashley Greene’s rival in the ABC pilot, Americana, using my own designs to portray a fashion designer. The pilot was sadly not picked up, but this was my first opportunity to be able to showcase my two loves, fashion and acting.
On Americana with my designs!
That refers to my first theater production with my old theater company, Homebrewed, back in April-May, which I served as stage manager & actor in.
That also refers to the completion of & performance of my first full length play, Crystal Atlas, at the end of May
That also refers to the completion of a one-act play, Yess, Texas, which I also made 9 costumes for (my Spring 2013 Collection) and performed with my new theater company as part of Williamsburg Fashion Weekend.
That also refers to the wood-nymph photoshoot I held with one of my best friends of said collection in the woods where I grew up.
That would also refer to the fact that I got cast as a featured wife of a warlord in one of my favorite director’s, Darren Aronofsky’s, newest film, Noah. I got to be a part of the amazing experience of this biblical times feature complete with mud, rain, and amazing sets galore.
Last night, my friend Chiara and I gushed over how much we like clothes on our way home from a dinner party. She and I both agreed that playing dress-up as a grown woman is one of our favorite things, yet it’s also hard to pull off sometimes. She has several vintage Chanel suits that she would love to don with her vintage white gloves, (so popular in the 50’s and a necessity for any woman going to Manhattan for the day from Brooklyn, like her mother did), but she can’t quite bring herself to do it. Perhaps it’s the somewhat extinct convention of dressing up for going out everyday that is no longer exactly embraced on say, the Manhattan-bound F train from Brooklyn. With ample stares from her fellow travelers, I could imagine Chiara appearing to be a fish out of water in the seas of black peacoats from Macy’s and denim jeans.
I know that there are scores of brave men, women, and children who do go beyond the vernacular and have a really wonderful style (the Sartorialist has proven this), but it’s still, tough.
The Sartorialist Captures Some Grace
I am one of those people who tends to have lost her filter as to what looks normal versus kinda nutty, but even still, I would love to go bigger and more over-the-top when it comes to dressing. I had an ex-boyfriend who once claimed that he was embarrassed by the way I dressed and that I was just doing it “for attention”. This marked the end of my feelings for him because he obviously didn’t get me. I don’t dress up for attention, I dress up because I freaking love clothes! I love costumes and color relationships and sculptural clothing and fantastic details and incredible fabrics and costumes and period clothing and architecture and “putting together a look”. Like Chiara, I wish the times when all women took extreme pride in the way they dressed, when fashion wasn’t just for movie stars and the cultural elite, the art fringes or off-kilter subcultures were still here. Everyone participated. People in 1940’s Upper East Side might not mirror those of say, 1940’s Wisconsin stock car racers, but they all sure as hell avoided wearing pajamas to the mall (happens in my hometown in PA).
Wisconsin Stock Car Racers
Things fit better, clothing wasn’t manufactured for quick sale and even quicker disposal. Clothing was often handmade, careworn, cherished, and flaunted.
We Love You, Lucy, All Dolled Up
Even on television shows like, I Love Lucy, the characters were always dressed, even when cleaning at home. Culture has changed and I shouldn’t bash it, but leaving a cocktail dress for a fancy event instead of just cocktails, well that’s no fun. I have SO MANY dresses and outfits in my clothing arsenal, but I can’t seem to find too many occasions to flaunt them. My roommate has spent thousands of dollars on beautiful independent designer pieces that she views as art, but they decorate her closet complete with original tags. She never finds a reason to actually wear them and resorts to jeans and tshirts every day. What a shame! I always implore her to go for it and swathe herself in her beautiful things, but she feels too shy, they aren’t what everybody else wears. She should bite the bullet and showcase these wonderful and just slightly unconventional wares. I think she should. I think I should. I think we all should.
Here are some belts to bring you back to the days of corsets and fitted waists:
SERIOUSLY, EVERYTHING MUST GO. DESIGNS PAST AND PRESENT:
in the words of the Mamas & the Papas, :
I used to live in new york city
Every thing there was dark and dirty
Outside my window was a steeple
With a clock that always said 12:30
Young girls are coming to the canyon
And in the morning I can see them walking
I can no longer keep my blinds drawn
And I can’t keep myself from talking.
At first so strange to feel so friendly
To say good morning and really mean it
To feel these changes happening in me
But not to notice till I feel it.
Cloudy waters cast no reflection
Images of beauty lie there stagnant
Vibrations bounce in no direction
And lie there shattered into fragments.
Young girls are coming to the canyon
And in the morning I can see them walking
I can no longer keep my blinds drawn
And I can’t keep myself from talking.
An Exit Statement…
I am taking a much needed break from fashion design…I’m giving California a try… Please take advantage of all the sale has to offer and thanks for your support these last six years. I’ve reached 1000 sales, which I never would have imagined when I first started. Etsy has given me strength, beauty, love, support, true friends & a wonderful lifestyle where I can support myself sewing!! Being able to share what I make has been a tremendous dream come true. I am someone who used to watch fashion tv and read countless magazines dreaming of cooler clothes than what was available in my small Pennsylvania town. I used to sew and paint and sculpt and put together costumes… I would make my own clothes at 14 and courageously wear them to my conservative Catholic school on “dress-down days”. One time, I wore a purple jersey drape top I made; and a snarky popular boy asked if I had made it. Excitedly, I said yes, only to hear him say, “Well thank God, I would hope you would never pay money for that.” Fourteen years later, I am a two-time almost contestant on Project Runway. I got to meet Tim Gunn & Zanna Roberts twice, as well as Christian Sirriano. I’ve been lucky enough to have gotten mention in Lucky Magazine, Bust Magazine, Style.com, the Martha Stewart Show, the Huffington Post, Daily Candy, The Awl, and others.
I’ve had fashion shows to rave reviews, I’ve sold at numerous boutiques, shows, fairs, etc. I’ve taught sewing classes at Etsy and NYU. I shared studio space with prolific designers and artists. I sewed for The Row & Ohne Titel, as well as gotten to see shows firsthand, such as Rachel Roy. Magic has happened. I can’t even recount all I have done or all that has happened. I’ve never worked harder in my life and I have the grey hairs to prove it. Life has been very satisfying being my own boss. It’s also been remarkably challenging. I am taking a leave of absence and leaving knowing I worked my absolute hardest and put my business first 90% of the time. Life is what you make of it. You can truly do anything you put your mind to. Do what you love. You only live one life. Thank you for making these last six years magical.
My sister found this awesome iPhone app that makes any iPhone photo into a slew of different retro-esque photos. There are a several filters that make that regular ole photo of her dog into a 1975 polaroid of her dog. I’m now addicted. I freaking love old photos and films and film stills and so Instagram is my homeboy.