A Peninsula-raised film and stage actress – who won acclaim locally last year for her bravura performance as Puck in Beach House Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream – is in a race to raise money for her own original film project.
Earl Marriott grad Marina Benitez Lazzarotto has written, and will co-direct and act in, Flash, a 10-minute short subject she hopes to enter in international festivals (like the short, Homesick, in which she starred last year, and which screened at the 2013 ‘Court Metrage’ event as part of the Cannes film festival).
It’s a contemporary tale about a young woman with, as Lazzarotto puts it, “a wild sense of imagination,” who finds herself intrigued by a young graffiti artist – only to find her real and fantasy worlds, almost literally, in collision.
She’s lined up a hand-picked crew – all of them, like herself, trained professionals scrambling to find available work in Vancouver’s in-the-doldrums film industry – plus music by award-winning French composer Rob Coudert, who she met while studying and working in Europe.
With her quirky, dry-humoured fantasy Flash, she has well-heeded the old admonition to “write what you know.”
In fact, some may say the short’s key, ‘poster’ image is quintessential Lazzarotto – a young woman riding her bike home from a pay-the-bills restaurant gig, through the surreal neon and glass streetscape of downtown Vancouver and along the sea wall at night.
But therein lies part of the problem prompting an infusion of cash for Flash– the short requires night-for-night shooting that director of photography Jan Klompje, using his own Red digital camera, won’t be able to achieve without bringing in a lot of extra lighting, all of which will have to be rented and insured.
The short, which will be co-directed by Rory Tucker (a castmate from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, he has already collaborated with Lazzarotto on several film projects) and produced by Cody Bown (director of Homesick and founder of production company Indien Summer) also requires a few special effects to illustrate the lead character’s ready ability to slip from her humdrum existence to her inner world of fantasy.
One of these is a flying carpet sequence that, even giving full allowance for ingenuity and filmic creativity, will entail some considerable expense.
Hence the current drive to raise funds through an Indiegogo website (a method which proved effective in raising money for Homesick).
Lazzarotto and her creative partners aim to raise $10,000 for Flash by the end of Aug. 1 – and less than an hour after it went live on July 2, the site had already raised some $400.
“Now we only have to get another $330 per day and we’ll be covered,” Lazzarotto points out in typically wry fashion. “Or it could be 200 people who give $50 each, or 1,000 people with only $10 each.”
Perk categories range from a thank-you credit and frequent updates and production stills – for a simple $10 contribution – all the way up to a full executive producer credit, plus posters, DVDs and a personal thank-you video for someone who kicks in as much as $2,500.
Contributors also receive this assurance from Lazzarotto – “100 per cent of everything raised will go to the film – you won’t be paying anyone’s rent.”
As she points out in her pitch video, Flash is not just a matter of self-aggrandizement – as an actress, rather than waiting for jobs to come to her, she is playing another important role by creating a project that will gainfully employ and showcase people struggling to revive a moribund local industry.
Lazzarotto – who cut her teeth locally as a junior player with Susan Pendleton’s Surrey Youth Theatre Company before high school productions with Rick Harmon and Candace Radcliffe – also has the benefit of having talked and acted her way into two years of training at the prestigious Jacques Lecoq Theatre School in Paris.
It was an immensely demanding pressure cooker of a program in which students were daily thrown characterization and performance challenges. Out of 110 who started the program, Lazzarotto was one of only 30 who made the grade and was allowed back for the second year.
“They worked us so hard at that school – I’ve never had to work that hard before or since,” she said.
“It was just insanity. I was working with my body every day. Out of 110 students, you had to fight to get yourself seen by (the teachers). It wasn’t about getting it right or getting it perfect. If they asked you to play something you did it, or they’d soon move onto someone else. You get really used to making an ass of yourself.”
But although she recalls almost having hysterics at the prospect of playing “the colour yellow” or a “log floating downstream,” she realizes the training has made her virtually fearless as a performer; physically-aware and focused on the most telling nuances of body language.
And even though there’s a certain irony to the fact that her main direction is now film and TV work rather than theatre, she knows the experience informs all of her work.
“I’m like a classically-trained mime,” she said. “I would never take it back.”