Dream Role(s)!!

A Jacket/Pants Sketch for a look in the movie

A Jacket/Pants Sketch for a look in the movie

 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!

Sketch by Desira Pesta
Sketch by Desira Pesta

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.

The Filmmakers 

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.

Follow our production on our blog at: http://redpearlmovie.wordpress.com

The Actor: Scarlet

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.

Desira Pesta
Desira Pesta

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:

$2,000 Director of Photography Fee

$500 Hair and Make-Up Stylist

$300 Desira Pesta mini-collection materials & labor

$800 Overnight shoot in Lucas, KS

$600 Props, set dressing, make-up & hair supplies

$200 Grip truck gas & parking

$500 Fashion Show scaffolding, chairs, DJ, etc.

$2,000 Hard drives for media storage

$150 Expendables

Additional Production Budget Total $7,050

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!

Love,

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.

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Fashion Divorce, Fashion Make-up & A Pilot!

February 2010: Myself and my amazingly talented and devoted intern, Bethany, killed it and made an amazing collection to show for Fashion Week.  I did my biggest fashion show to date, it got rave reviews from the crowd and some press, including the Huffington Post & The AwlProject Runway asked me to audition for it’s 8th season and asked me to bring 10 pieces, as opposed to the 5 they asked of everyone else… and then I showed them the things I had worked harder on than anything in my entire life and the things I was most proud of ever and… they bashed me. I missed the final cut of contestants by one. Tim Gunn told me they’d call me that night to tell me if I was on or not.  I left the audition and made my way to my boyfriend at the time’s office to meet for coffee. I was shaking and decided that even if they wanted me, I would not accept.  I am far too sensitive to be put through the rigor morale of Project Runway’s intensity and editing. I didn’t get on, but I did realize that I was in desperate need of a fashion break.  After six years of nonstop selling, ups and downs, Etsy, customers, trends, & 16 hour days, I had to put it to rest.  I felt empty. I felt as though I had lost why I started sewing in the first place.  I’m not going to blame it on that bad PR audition, but it definitely left me questioning what I wanted of fashion.  I did not want to get into production.  I am too much of an artist to have the business-heavy skills it takes to be a real fashion designer in the fashion industry.  I was riding the wave between being a super indie handmade clothing artist and the fashion world in Vogue and I fell off my board towards the indie.  The fashion industry has a lot of evils.  I needed to re-kindle my love all-together.  I used to obsess over style.com and the fashion shows and magazines and fabrics and I found myself disinterested, feeling like a long lost daughter, unsure of her past. I pushed it away and grabbed for steady work with employers who weren’t myself; and with appointments and places to be rather than a self-made calendar.  I threw myself into acting much more wholeheartedly and my boyfriend and I broke up. I had some health problems, I kind of had a breakdown, and then winter hit. I moved out of the magnificent studio space that I had shared with ten peers, including Etsy’s founder, Rob Kalin, for three years.  The life I had known for three years was over. I was almost officially divorcing my fashion business.

Fast forward one year. My sewing studio had been collecting some dust, and I’ve become nearly completely absorbed in acting, but a glimmer started.  I sewed here and there and still sold accessories on Etsy and then a few months ago, I got a job teaching sewing lessons a few hours a week.  I made a few new dresses and pieces for myself…

Last week, all of my sadness and confusion and hard work came back full circle… Sometimes it just isn’t the right time… There were a few pieces that I was most proud of from my fashion show for Autumn 2010 back in February 2010… those things, combined with my dedication to acting (tons of classes, workshops, auditions, seminars, in the last two years) have paid the hell off.  I landed a tiny role on a new ABC fashion drama pilot called Americana. Casting was looking for SAG actors who were also fashion designers.  When I saw the posting, I screamed.  There had to be like 2 of us in the United States.  After weeks of deliberation on their part, I got it!!!! and on Thursday, three ensembles from my 2010 show that had been in a garment bag for two years awaiting their debut and two never-before seen pieces were walked down a runway on models on a freaking tv show with me as their real-life and tv designer.  This isn’t reality tv. This is a scripted Ashley Greene-starring pilot and it was utterly surreal.  I play a rival fashion design student of Ashley’s named Ann Marie. On top of it, I got to act with Emilie de Ravin of Lost & Roswell, which was my favorite show in high school. Lastly, the director of Americana is Philip Noyce, who also directed Clear & Present Danger, Patriot Games, The Bone Collector, and one of my favorite movies of all time, The Saint, which I have seen 27 times. I won’t disclose anything else.

My models & I

Hard work pays off.  I’m preparing to work just as hard from here on out.  Thank you, universe. Now, it’s time for my agent to come along….

Longing

I lived in Italy from 2004-2005 and I’ve been missing it so much this weekend. Sometimes I know that I was born in the wrong place at the wrong time and should have been this age in the 60s and 70s and in Europe. The visuals I get sometimes in my head of experiences Ive had there or experiences I dream up are so real. I can taste, touch, and feel things like a movie. I’m sure you kind of know what I mean. Maybe not.

I want to ride trains across landscapes and taste foods that are heirloom, coffee that’s been made the same way for 75 years, sweaters that were built to last, laughs that don’t have hidden agendas, air that’s been breathed by people building aqueducts and creating masterpieces.

I want design that is timeless, buildings that were planned and executed with grace; where they avoided temporal grandeur of the ego of the architect for foresight of what will continue to be beautiful.

Things are different in Europe. These movies play in my head, I’ve always escaped to somewhere else my whole life, yet at least I’ve pinpointed a latitude and longitude. America gets so draining sometimes. New York is…. Exhaustive. I never felt tired there, no matter how much I was. You have to filter New York streets sometimes to siphon away the jerks + the mistakes for the beautiful things, yet in Europe, they’re all out for the taking.