Mostly women-led dramatic indie feature now filming

Erica Weiss and Caitlin Parrish (photo: Joe Mazza/Brave Lux)

Frequent theatre collaborators director Erica Weiss and writer Caitlin Parrish are heading an independent feature being produced by an all Chicago cast and a crew primarily staffed by women.

They are co-directing the coming-of-age drama now filming in North Side neighborhoods and the western suburbs and scheduled to wrap Nov. 9.

For their filmmaking debut, Weiss and Parrish surrounded themselves with like-minded mostly female talent behind the camera. Of the crew of 30, 17 are women, including six of the eight major department heads, positions that are traditionally held by men.

“It was a conscious decision for us to create opportunities for strong female storytellers, where typically there are few in number,” Weiss and Parrish say of their choice. 

Chicago native Parrish wrote the film’s screenplay, based on her award-winning play of the same title. She is currently working in LA as a staff writer on CBS’ sci-fi series Under the Dome.

The story is about a teen girl, played by Amanda Drinkall, whose high school is ostracizing her for being tall, obviously smart and mature and for recently having an underage affair with her English teacher. She develops an unlikely friendship with her court-mandated therapist, played by Michael Patrick Thornton.

The local team is headed by producer Amanda Pflieger (SXSW jury winner Animals); coproducer/UPM is Mary Kay Cook (Dimension); production supervisor Jacqueline ‘JJ’ Ingram (Drinking Buddies), DP, Stephanie Dufford (The Wise Kids), gaffer, Erin Hughes (Jessica); key makeup artist Amber Talarico (Animals); costume designer Alarie Hammock (Steppenwolf Theatre); production designer Amanda Brinton (A Light Beneath Their Feet).

Editor is LA-based Sarah Beth Shapiro, a TV series assistant editor (Mad Men).

Mickie Paskal and Jennifer Rudnicke of PR Casting brought in the actors. Amanda Drinkall, making her film debut, was the star of the Goodman Theater’s Venus in Fur.  Costar Michael Patrick Thornton, a native of Jefferson Park, is Dr. Gabriel Fife in ABC’s drama series Private Practice.

Parrish and Weiss, a theatre director, recently concluded a success run of their play The Downpour, at Route 66 Theatre Company.