When Lloyd, a peeping tom with issues (putting it nicely), thinks he is about to watch a risqué video, he's in for a surprise when he learns that its star is actually his landlord, who directly asks Lloyd to take out his wife.
That's just one of the funny and dark twists in the locally filmed Pervertigo, directed by Indianapolis native Jaron Henrie-McCrea and produced by Shrihari Sathe. The movie is the latest independent film to be screened at the IMAX Theater at the Indiana State Museum. A one-night-only showing will take place on Friday, preceded by a cocktail hour with the cast and crew and followed by a question and answer session with the filmmakers.
"The movies I write are kinda weird and, I hope, humorous, depending on the audience," says Henrie-McCrea. He notes that his influences over the years have included the Coen Brothers and Alfred Hitchcock for their clever writing and dark humor. He wanted to incorporate their styles into this film.
While this will be the first screening of the film in Indiana and will be followed by screenings in other American cities in the coming months, the film was featured at the Warsaw Film Festival in Poland and the Mumbai Film Festival in India, both in late October 2012. It was also screened at the Titanic International Film Festival in Budapest in April 2013.
"Warsaw was great because people in Poland dig the movies [Americans] make," says Henrie-McCrea. "Every night people had to sit in the aisles; there were lines out the door. Every single joke was hitting more than I intended. Even jokes that weren't intentional were getting laughs. I felt like a rock star out there. It was a very proud moment for the film."
Sathe attended the Mumbai screenings.
"It was very interesting to see that the American humor was carrying over and hitting audiences," he says. "The interesting thing about that festival was that a lot of film buffs go to [that festival]. They definitely got the references [in Pervertigo] to other American filmmakers."
Henrie-McCrea and Sathe, who met in film school at Columbia University's School of the Arts and live in New York City, shot the film in Indianapolis in Fall 2010. Local audiences might recognize some of the backdrops, including Holliday Park, downtown and Broad Ripple. They might not realize that the striking scenes in and around an abandoned building were filmed inside the long closed but soon to be renovated Rivoli Theatre on the near east side.
Martin Monahan, who plays Lloyd, is Henrie-McCrea's Ball State University classmate and an Indiana native. Henrie-McCrea said he wrote the part with Monahan in mind. They had often worked together on short films, including Knock Knock, the recipient of a Student Academy Award and the Jimmy Stewart Memorial Crystal Heart Award from the Heartland Film Festival.
The other actors, who have experience in TV, film and New York theater, were included at the suggestion of the film's casting director. Most of the crew was based in Indianapolis. Many of them have since moved on to other cities and continue to work in TV or film, including a few interns who were students and recent graduates from area colleges. Henrie-McCrea and Sathe also spoke to students at Brebeuf Jesuit High School about filmmaking at the time.
The Independent Film Project helped the filmmakers polish the movie as a part of the 2011 Narrative Independent Filmmaker Lab. Pervertigo was one of only 11 films to be accepted into the program.
"We applied to IFP like you would a film festival (filled out a form, mailed a DVD) and we were selected out of over 100 other [films]," says Henrie-McCrea. "[They] provided valuable feedback from industry professionals, helped us find our composer, introduced us to a number of festival programmers. ... They helped us find ways to shorten it while punching up the impact of certain scenes."
Criticism included whether the scenes were too racy or not racy enough, especially given the film's title.
After this screening, the film will be shown in other cities and will eventually be available on DVD and digital platforms.