Yajaira Marie and Patrick Richter take the PY road

A location shot for "Passing Through," a feature that Py will begin shooting in France this summer

A location shot for “Passing Through,” a feature that Py will begin shooting in France this summer

With projects
ranging from
Chicago to France,
Yajaira Marie and
Patrick Richter’s PY Films
has earned the founders’
lasting dedication

Two weeks ago, Yajaira Marie and Patrick Richter made a fulltime commitment to the Chicago-based production, development and finance company that they founded in February. With a new office on the 57th floor of the Willis Tower and a slate full of projects, the young entrepreneurs and their four-person firm, PY Films, are in for a busy summer.

Besides preparing to shoot a Chicago-based feature in July, PY will take an award-winning TV pilot into the summer festival season, and then travel to France to begin production on another feature in the fall.

Patrick Richter
Patrick Richter

Marie and Richter share an instinctive tenacity that has been nourishing their business long before they decided to make it official.

PY started out as a “side hustle,” according to Richter, but grew so quickly that they decided to make a full-time go of it. “We needed to give the projects our one-hundred percent,” he says.

Marie rounds out his explanation.

“We needed to grow,” she says. “Otherwise, all this momentum we have would have come to a halt.”

Augmenting each other’s comments is just one of many ways that Marie and Richter are on the same page.

Their bond started out as a friendship at Quriosity Productions, the Chicago-based production, post, and photography firm. Working together for years allowed them to acknowledge and appreciate each other’s talent, a convenient prelude to their current partnership.

Yajaira Marie
Yajaira Marie

“My background is line producing,” Marie continues. “Patrick will be production manager.”

Their friendship was fueled by a passion for the film industry, which they seemed to pursue whenever and wherever they went.

PY’s first release — the madcap TV pilot Bobby Roberts — grew from an encounter between Richter and the show’s creator at a bar in Lincoln Park.

The film earned loads of praise after its February premiere at the Wit Hotel and later screened at the Chicago International Television Festival.



The company recently hired its first rep, Emily Barrish, in much the same way.

“We met her through one of our friends,” says Richter. “We happened to be hanging out one night, and we hit it off.”

Barrish offers a solid history of sales from another industry and, according to Marie, she’s got the right attitude. “Emily said, ‘I just want to give the clients what they want,’” she recalls.

That flexibility underscores a PY work ethic that, according to Marie, includes tending to “how money is spent” and managing “the nitty-gritty of the daily.”

“We are always willing to transform to what the project needs,” she adds. “We can be nimble when it needs to be nimble. We can expand when we need to expand. We still care about things on an individual project basis.”

In keeping with that philosophy, the company maintains a strong relationship with Pink Hippo Productions.

“They’re sort of our commercial production partner,” says Richter. “We’ve got some things starting with them.”

Next month, PY will face a new challenge as it begins shooting one of two features with strong casts and solid funding.

The first — which launches production this July will go unnamed due to an NDA agreement — tells the story of a Chicago college student’s struggle to become head of an Elk Club-like organiztion. According to Richter, the film is not only “fully sold,” but also includes a cast of “big names.”

The second, Passing Through, is about an older couple and a younger couple in the South of France. The men in this scenario are a divorced father and his son. The son, whose wife has suffered sexual abuse, is getting to know dad’s girlfriend for the first time.



“It deals a lot with sexual abuse and that’s one of the things we found to be so powerful,” says Richter. “It deals with that subject in a way that I’ve never seen or read before.”

The project got its start in the usual PY style. “I met a guy in New York with pink hair in a dive bar and bought him a drink,” Patrick recalls. “He happened to have written this script, and I was like, ‘hey I’m starting a film company.’”

The pink-haired man was David Walter Hall, and his concept made a considerable impression on Marie.

“The script was surprising because it reads like it was written by a women,” she says. “It’s all about how the women in their lives change their lives.”

Passing Through is scheduled to begin shooting in France late summer.

For more information about PY Films, click here.

Contact Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton at dan@reelchicago.com.