“I wanted somebody with ice in their veins.”
A PROPER VIOLENCE writer and director and IMPULSE BLACK cinematographer Chris Faulisi will join first-time director Warren Weisman as director of photography on the World War II short drama GABRIELLA’S AMERICAN. The film will star 15 year-old actress Jolie Vanier (SHORTS 2009) in the lead role as it seeks to premier at 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.
Jolie Vanier as Gabriella in
‘Gabriella’s American’ by Warren Weisman
Weisman passed up centuries of experience before deciding on the 24-year-old phenom Faulisi. Seeking to reintroduce the Second World War in a way that is relevant to the Twitter and smart phone world is a big challenge. ‘Anybody can do what everybody else is doing,’ Weisman said. ‘I needed a fearless DP to make this work. I wanted somebody with ice in their veins. I didn’t care about any other qualifications.’
Mark Alexander Herz as the German SS officer
in ‘Gabriella’s American’ by Warren Weisman
Artistically, Weisman wanted to bring the subject current with a modern look that would appeal to today’s audiences without being gimmicky or having the obligatory dark colors of a war picture, yet also didn’t look like an after school special. ‘Different looks is something Chris does exceptionally well,’ Weisman said. ‘He’s a young guy and his youth is an asset, not a liability, and he’s got the talent it takes to make big decisions quickly. I love that and I think his involvement together with our phenomenal cast gives us an opportunity to make ‘Gabriella’s American’ something really special.
World War 2: the Time Diamond
To Gabriella’s American short film writer-director Warren Weisman says facing the challenges of bringing the Second World War to modern audiences are worth it.
I think the best way to make the period accessible to modern filmgoers is to focus on the human side of the conflict, not the combat. Combat on that scale isn’t something people are ever going to see again. I believe those years between 1939 and 1945 are like a time diamond. The entirety of human history you can find compressed into those years. You had the worst, and you had people hiding people in their attics and you had everything imaginable between. I want to recreate that sense of being swept up in these enormous events where the individual had no control over their own lives.
‘Gabriella’s American’ by Warren Weisman
I have listened to World War II veterans tell their stories since I was a kid, but the enormity of the war didn’t hit me until an elderly woman who had been a small child during the war recounted to me how her most vivid memory of the war was her mother turning in their shower caps for the rubber. I thought to myself, wow, that’s total war. Something so big and all-encompassing its reach extended to the family bathtub.
ABOUT WARREN WEISMAN:
First-time director Warren Weisman’s biography reads like fiction. He was thrown out of the French Foreign Legion for attempting to enlist underage and went on to ride a Harley-Davidson chopper with the Hells Angels. He was in the US Navy onboard the aircraft carrier USS Independence when it was the first warship to respond to the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. An airplane pilot since 16, he spent two years in the Alaska bush recreating Thoreau’s Walden experiment in Alaska’s Talkeetna River Valley, among the state’s highest concentrations of black and brown bears. He is the inventor of a home biogas system that generates methane gas from kitchen scraps to run generators and provide clean-burning cooking fuel.
Be sure to catch Warren Weisman’s other FilmCourage.com post ‘THE MIND’S EAR: THE RHYTHM OF WRITING’
The project has 15 year-old acting sensation Jolie Vanier attached to play the lead role of Gabriella and her father will be played by French actor Fabrice Mougas. Although the cast speaks French, the film will be in English other than some German by Mark Alexander Herz, the imposing tough guy who plays the German SS officer sent to find the American. The dramatic conclusion is an outdoor scene to be filmed at a Los Angeles area movie ranch with authentic World War II German military vehicles. Gabriella’s American takes place in wartime, but there is no shooting or explosions, it is a moral dilemma faced by a young woman determined to do the right thing while everyone around her wants to do the easy thing.
The short is intended for the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, and hopes to make the July 12 late deadline for the finished film.
A strong-willed teenage girl in Occupied France defies her entire village in an attempt to save a wounded American flyer from the Nazis