Independent filmmaker Laura Colella is proof that acclaimed films need not require a studio budget.
Her latest work, the drama-comedy Breakfast with Curtis, is winning raves on the film festival circuit and was nominated for a Cassavetes Award at the 2013 Spirit Awards. It was also produced with what could charitably be called limited resources, namely a microbudget and with the help of those who live in her Rhode Island home as well as her next-door neighbors.
“Breakfast with Curtis was born of a desire to go into production with a film immediately, with the resources that were at my fingertips — which is to say, little to nothing in terms of cash, but a wealth of richness in terms of story, character, and locations,” Colella said via email.
Colella is screening Breakfast with Curtis at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Center Theatre of the Center for Performing Arts on the University of Toledo campus, followed by a discussion of the film. She described her movie, which she wrote, directed, and edited, as “the people who live in two neighboring houses. In one is a group of freewheeling bohemians, and in the other is a couple with a troubled teenage son, Curtis. A conflict happened five years ago that left bad blood between their households, but now a new relationship develops between Curtis and one of the neighbors that brings everyone together in various ways.”
In addition to screening her third narrative feature, Colella will teach a Saturday workshop for UT students on film direction.
“We'll direct actors in a scene, trying different adjustments, looking at a variety of ways that the scene can be played, and at how subtle shifts can make a substantial impact,” she said.
Colella’s appearance at UT is through an invitation from Holly Hey, associate professor in the school’s department of Theatre and Film, as well as Associate Chair and Program Head for Film. The friends have known each other since the 1990s, when they worked together at the Rhode Island School of Design, where Colella still teaches.
Hey said the filmmaker represents an important lesson to her students, that a successful movie career does not necessarily require a Hollywood address.
“Laura has won hundreds of awards, received a lot of money to make her movies, screened her work all over the world, interacted with big-name directors and producers throughout her career,” she said, “but makes all of her films in her home-town [of] Providence, R.I.”
Contact Kirk Baird at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6734.