The Yellow Wallpaper - A Kevin Pontuti Film
 
 
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The Yellow Wallpaper Feature Film

A little background on how this project landed in my lap: about two years ago, my then girlfriend and creative partner, Alexandra Loreth, who I had bamboozled into acting in a series of short films, had been trying to get me to read her favorite short story, The Yellow Wallpaper—let’s just say—for a very long time.

When I finally did, I immediately agreed that it would make for an incredible film. I loved its themes, the dark and rich imagery described by Charlotte Perkins Gilman was incredibly evocative. It hit all my marks.

I walked out of my office and into the dining room and the first thing I said was, “god dammit.” Alexandra was very concerned, “What? What’s wrong?”

Me—“You’re right, we have to make this into a film, AND you HAVE to play the lead.” Two years later, we’re married, and in preproduction, just weeks away from filming our biggest project to date. We’re incredibly excited, a little bit scared, and very committed to making the best film we can. Cheers!

—Kevin Pontuti, writer and director

 
 

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LOGLINE

When a depressed young writer in the late 19th century is restricted by her well-intentioned physician husband to a summer of bed rest in a remote country estate, her isolation - and marriage - sets in motion her descent into madness.


 
 
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The Synopsis

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s haunting story, The Yellow Wallpaper, has captivated readers for over a century. Jane, a young writer suffering from postpartum depression is prescribed a rest treatment by her physician husband, John, who takes her to a remote country estate for the summer. When they arrive, Jane is enchanted by yet leary of the old house. She becomes intrigued by the peculiar yellow wallpaper that covers the walls in the room that her husband has chosen for her. Over time, Jane’s treatment proves unhelpful and instead of curing her, the bedrest and isolation and the yellow wallpaper—combined with her marriage and baby—drive her deeper into psychosis.

Jane begins to see things in the wallpaper and gardens and becomes convinced that a woman is trapped in the patterns on the wall. As Jane spends the end of the summer trying to figure out how to save the trapped woman — and herself — John and her housekeepers become increasingly worried about her behavior and try to confine her even more. The loved, well known, and much discussed ending is still shocking and disturbing.

This canonical feminist story reminds us that many of the issues surrounding women’s mental health and equality during the 1890s still persist in similar ways today.

 
 
 

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A Meaningful Story

The Yellow Wallpaper is an incredible piece of canonical feminist literature, a short story written in 1892 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman featuring complex layers and themes that, although written in a Victorian era, still resonate with contemporary life and politics. Both story and author are well known in the literary world as early influencers of feminist themes in writing, and to this day the story remains a staple of high school and collegiate reading, raising fundamental issues around women’s roles in society, mental illness, and social expectations of women’s mental and sexual health.

An exhausted new mother, Jane and her family seek solitude in a country home secluded far from busy city life. Restricted from all activities in order to “heal her,” Jane is a woman lacking liberty, agency and a sense of meaningful work; the roles of mother and homemaker are undertaken by others, leaving her idle and contributing to her diminished feelings of self-worth and agency. These feelings, when combined with solitary confinement masquerading as therapy as well as Jane’s underlying and misunderstood postpartum-depression (a condition unrecognized by doctors of the era), evoke extreme behaviors of withdrawal, depression, outbursts of rage and bouts of mania.

Confined in solitude and effectively held captive by her physician husband, Jane descends into deepening depression as the walls close in around her, her thoughts symbolically trapped by patterns of the yellow wallpaper in her bedroom. With a prehistoric understanding of psychology, Jane’s husband identifies such symptoms with the blanket term “hysteria.” Jane’s “hysteria” takes over slowly, and her physician husband John soon learns that he’s done the opposite of help - he's propelled her descent into madness.

One of the earliest diagnosis of “hysteria” in women dates to 1900 B.C., and for the next 4,000 years was variously attributed to “wandering wombs,” demons, sexual tensions and “retained female semen.” A blanket diagnosis for women, for centuries treatments included doctor-performed masturbation, female circumcision, hosing down with cold water, bedrest and abstinence from anything and everything. Gilman herself was treated for hysteria, later vehemently vocal about her physical and mental decline throughout treatment, as well as how it became inspiration for The Yellow Wallpaper.

While medical practices have fortunately advanced and “hysteria” is no longer a concern for the average modern woman, a quick Google search reveals there are still doctors who claim to treat it. Unfortunately, a multitude of stigmas surrounding women’s health persists, especially related to feminine sexuality.

Film and other forms of modern art shed light upon such persistent social gender myths, and one of the best ways we can eliminate them is to continue creating art. The beauty (and terror) of our story is that it can be directly related to our modern era, and for this reason we’ve chosen to set our film in its original Victorian style, with as much historical accuracy as possible to accentuate and intensify these once unquestionable and undeniable misconceptions.

 
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A Smart Business Plan

Adaptations and historical narratives are consistently in-demand, especially in the thriller / horror genres. The Yellow Wallpaper is a well-known story with a built in audience. It’s a story that resonates with contemporary audiences and addresses timely conversations and socially relevant discourse, while providing an entertaining and meaningful message. Think of it as “smart horror”.

Our lean micro-budget business model positions this film in a specific niche with an incredible opportunity for critical and financial success. By leveraging our team’s network and creative capital along with our shrewd producing skills, we’re in a position to deliver a product that exceeds the production value and impact of most films budgeted at twice of our scale.

 
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We’re Gearing Up

We’ve been in development for over a year and are currently in pre-production. Our script has been very favorably reviewed and we’re close to a final shooting draft. Over half of our financial resources are committed and we‘re fundraising for the remainder of the budget ahead of our summer 2019 production. Very shortly we’ll begin casting and hiring key crew members. We’ve conducted various photography and design tests to refine our visual approach. Our costume and production designers are currently working on wardrobe, set and wallpaper designs. Production is scheduled for July 2019 in Ireland, and we’re also developing and producing a VR (virtual reality) component to the project as a transmedia tie-in.

 
 

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An Inclusive Mission

The Yellow Wallpaper is a canonical piece of feminist literature. It is an incredible story with complex layers and themes that, although written in the late 1800’s, still resonate with contemporary life and politics. Our intention is to put together a diverse and inclusive production team.

We welcome contributions and perspectives from people of all walks of life. We encourage participation and applications regardless of race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status. Better teams make better films.

 
 

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Our Growing Team

 
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Kevin Pontuti / Writer + Director + Producer

Kevin Pontuti is an artist and educator based in the USA. He received his MFA from Syracuse University in 1993 then moved to California where he founded the Los Angeles-based production company Studio P Inc. His image-making expertise and collaborative spirit attracted many top artists and designers to his studio. In 2009, Pontuti accepted a professorship at the University of Wisconsin-Stout where he served as program director for Stout’s digital media program. While in Wisconsin, Pontuti founded his film production company—Penitent Productions—and directed three award-winning short films. In 2017, he returned to California to lead University of the Pacific's MEDIA X program. His teaching and creative practice include cinematic arts and transmedia studies.


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Alexandra Loreth / Actor + Executive Producer

Alexandra is a California-raised and based actress. After almost ten years in the midwest, she is glad to call the golden state home again. Alexandra's past work ranges from comedy to art film to horror, and most of the projects she has worked on have gone on to screen internationally and win awards, including two for best actress. Outside of acting she's getting started on a few of her own films - both documentaries with focuses on women abroad.


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Peter Galante / Art Director + Producer

Five decades as a maker of images, Peter Galante remains a student of art. Everything he knows has been learned from the masters. Galante employs many advanced concepts and techniques into his work, elevating it to something of pure elegance and beauty. Galante has crafted beautiful images from around the world. When not traveling, he serves as the photography program director at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, where he teaches photography and film. Galante has a thorough understanding of art history and vast knowledge of many art and design theories.

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Joanne Butcher / Associate Producer

Joanne Butcher is an international speaker and Filmmaker Success Mentor, with 20 years of training in film finance, fundraising, scriptwriting, distribution, and exhibition. She served as Executive Director of the Alliance Cinema on Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, IFP/Miami and as a founder of IFP/National. She collaborated for 9 years with the Brazilian Film Festival and served on their Jury. Joanne served as the global marketing curator for YouTube’s UK Movie Channel and has raised millions of dollars from companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo, Cisco, and foundations including the Kresge Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation and many more.


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Sylvia Moore / Producer

Sylvia Moore is the Creative Director of the Richard Harris International Film Festival, co-founder of Emerald Giant Productions, and also helps run Magic Roundabout Theater Company. Her background in entrepreneurship, administration, and management makes her the perfect fit for these roles. Sylvia had her first experience on a film set over 15 years ago and has since been involved in research, creating pitch decks, casting, location scouting and script supervision and analysis. Her role at the RHIFF includes programming, production of live events, Women In Film screenings, PR and overseeing all aspects of the festival from the submission process to wrap.

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Rob Gill / Producer

Rob Gill, a Limerick native, attended Crescent College, followed by the University of Limerick and Dublin City University. He has over 17 years of experience in strategic communications, investment banking operations, investment management, and market research. He is Co-Founder and Chair of the Richard Harris International Film Festival, Co-Founder of Emerald Giant Productions, and a writer and producer working on TV series, short films, and feature length projects.

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Zeb Moore / Producer

Originally from Dublin, Zeb Moore moved to the West of Ireland in 2000 and very soon after became involved in the acting scene in Limerick. He has acted in a television series for RTE and TG4, appeared in feature length films, short movies and multiple web series. He has produced 12 critically acclaimed plays, multiple films, and large outdoor events through the Elemental Arts Festival which he also co-founded. Constantly involved with theatre, whether acting, producing, directing or teaching, in 2010, Zeb set up “Magic Roundabout Theatre” with writer and actor Darren Maher. Through Emerald Giant he is currently co-producing a TV series, two short films, and several feature film projects to be filmed in Ireland, the UK, USA, and South Africa. Moore helps spearhead the Richard Harris International Film Festival, Emerald Giant Productions.


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Cathie McClellan / Costume Designer

In a career spanning more than four decades, Cathie McClellan’s costumes have been seen on regional theatre and academic stages across the United States, and independent feature-length and short films. Regarded as a Costume Goddess by her students, she is an expert in historical and contemporary costume design and construction, the history of textile manufacturing, textile surface design, fabric aging and distressing, jewelry design, and theatrical armor manufacture. She also enjoys the process of creating authentic, practical, and believable garments for people and places that exist outside of the framework of the mundane world.

 
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SONJA TSYPIN / Director of Photography

Sonja Tsypin is a cinematographer born and raised in New York City and currently based in Los Angeles. Sonja has photographed a variety of award-winning content including narrative, music video, and commercial work on both digital and analog formats (35mm, 16mm). Many of these projects have been recognized and screened at film festivals  across the country. Her cinematography work is heavily informed by her fine arts education as a painter. Sonja received her master's degree in cinematography from the American Film Institute (AFI) Conservatory, with a first place cinematography award from the international KODAK Student Scholarships for which she was recently featured in an issue of American Cinematographer magazine.

 
 

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An Artistic Approach

As we mentioned earlier, a number of interests came together in the creation of this project. Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story, The Yellow Wallpaper, is a well-known and seminal piece of feminist literature.

We plan to stick relatively close to the period, location and storyline of the book. The film will start with the family’s arrival to the summer estate as it does in the short story and end with Jane’s downward spiral at the end of the summer.

In the twenty-page short story, Gilman uses a first-person narrator to tell Jane’s story through her journal entries. Although we plan to use some first person narration for the film, we’ll show many of the summarized events as expanded scenes and tell the story visually.

We’ll also make use of the beautiful landscapes and gardens around their summer house as a contrast to the darkness of Jane’s inner turmoil. Get ready for a tragic yet beautiful and harrowing film.

 
 

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Style and Mood

 
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Incredible Partners

Join us on this journey as we create a beautiful and terrifying film. Our sponsors and partners are a crucial part of our team. We can’t thank them enough. Although we will surely try!

 
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Sponsorship

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Tax Deductible Donations can be made through our fiscal sponsor—FILM INDEPENDENT

Executive Producer / Diamond Sponsor

By donating $10,000 or more (direct or in-kind), individuals can receive an executive producer credit or be credited as a diamond sponsor for organizations. This benefit includes a top line credit in the film (credits, website, sponsorship page), special invitations to screenings, opportunity to review script and creative plans, invitation to visit production on set, a signed film poster, a special “thank you” in the credits and in all film documentation and relevant publicity, and the opportunity to bring Kevin Pontuti (director) and Alexandra Loreth (actor) to speak at an event (such as a lunch or dinner presentation).


Associate Producer / Platinum Sponsor

By donating $5,000 or more (direct or in-kind), individuals can receive an associate producer credit or be credited as a platinum sponsor for organizations. This benefit includes credit in the film (credits, website, sponsorship page), special invitations to screenings, invitation to visit production on set, a signed film poster, a special “thank you” in the credits and in all film documentation and relevant publicity, and the opportunity to bring Kevin Pontuti (director) and Alexandra Loreth (actor) to speak at an event (such as a lunch or dinner presentation).


Gold Sponsor

Organizations and businesses donating more that $2,500 (direct or in-kind) receive special mention and thank you in film credits, website and sponsorship page, as well as special invitations to screenings, invitation to visit production on set, a signed film poster. Also includes “shout outs” and mentions on social media.


Individuals, organizations and businesses donating more that $250 (direct or in-kind) receive special mention and thank you in film credits, website and sponsorship page, as well as special mentions and “shout outs” on social media.

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DONATE SERVICES

To make an independent film, it takes a lot of support from partners like you. However, did you know you can show your support to our project without making a monetary gift? Please consider donating an in kind contribution of goods and services! Become an official in kind sponsor of our cause. In doing so, you can help feed, house, dress our cast and crew, as well as provide much needed equipment and services. And in return, we’ll spread the word about your business to our community of supporters.

Contact kevin@pontuti.com if you’d like to learn more about sponsorship.