Early December, New York City, and everyone is in the hunt for love. Why? Because they haven’t found it. They make it into a myth and chase the myth instead. That is not love in this romantic drama of fantasy, fate, and yearning.
PLOT SUMMARY: Thumbnail Style
Early December, New York City, and everyone is talking about something. Their lives. But, no, something more. Love. They are on the hunt for love. Why? Because they haven’t found it and because they haven’t found it, they imagine it. They make it into a myth and chase the myth instead. And that is not love.
Meet Frank. Frank’s not young. Meet Reyna. Reyna is young. They become lovers, but Frank winds up back at the fragile altar of his 30-year marriage to Paula. Who’d he pick? He didn’t. Now what? Two Irish Construction Workers dig for the answer in the myth of Tristan and Isolde. Do we make our own choices or does Fate do it for us? And in the meantime, all we have is the Chase. We’re all chasing bubbles. That’s all there is. Run yourself ragged! The narrator, Joelle, asks—how many lives do you think you get to live—in this recurring conflict between the erotic and the domestic, between myth and mortality, between you and the one you’re still looking for.
SYNOPSIS: Opera Style
The early December streets of the city are a kaleidoscope of domestic discontent. The urgent fragments of sidewalk conversations reveal the Chase is on to find Love and fulfill fantasies. Out of the street steam emerges Joelle— a Sibyl, a Siren, and the Narrator. She is also the leader of a commedia dell'arte Street Troupe. In a foretelling performance, the male clown, Arlecchino, rejects his domestic role so he can play the part of the adventurer-lover instead. Only a freshly cooked chicken from his counter-part, Arlequina, can keep him from running astray.
After their bows, Joelle, as Narrator, pours sand through an hourglass and begins the story of a man blinded by his fantasies. The man is Frank, 60's. He walks behind two Irish Construction Workers and listens as they dissect the myth of Tristan and Isolde in an unsuccessful effort to resolve their own dysfunctional relationships. They also discuss whether Life is determined by Fate or Choice. Passing a long line of people at a museum, one Construction Worker identifies with the stasis: "like a parade that stopped" where no-one gets anywhere because they're stuck. He and his fellow worker dare each other to break the curse and "bust it" to freedom. Frank gets in the line and falls immediately under the spell of the woman behind him. They play out the last scene from Casablanca before she gets a phone call from her husband and leaves.
As Frank turns back into the line he stares straight into the face of another beautiful stranger. She walks away but this time Frank gives chase through the city and arrives at her door. Her name is Reyna, she has a small dog named Mr. Mini, she is Mexican-American, and she is an escort. During the “chase” of their many appointments, their love for each other grows. They confess each is married and, in a moment of openness and trust, she reveals that Emilia is her true name. On his birthday, she makes a bid to be a couple out in the world not just in her bed, but Frank can't make the leap and Emilia sees her role will never change. Their story dies at the dead end of truth as they realize their lives cannot succeed within or beyond this bubble of fantasy. Days later, Frank wanders through her empty apartment. He sees only her reflection behind him in the mirror, sitting at the top of the stairs, taunting him over the needed review he promised but never wrote.
Frank's 30-year marriage to Paula has become surreal and distant. Taking out the container of garbage, he becomes Sisyphus rolling the rocks uphill that Paula keeps tossing in. He sees their marriage as a stage play, casting himself as a Beggar and Paula as Queen Elizabeth with a 75-yr. old Mad Hamlet insisting on decisive action. Beggar Frank pleads for divorce. Queen Paula never looks up from her paperback. Frank’s purchase of lingerie and Paula’s refusal to wear it takes on sit-com proportions as she insists she can get it for a better price and blames him for not keeping the receipt. Frank comes downstairs for his morning coffee only to face Paula-as-Prosecutor, who lays out the case that he's a loser and the last person she wants to get her naked. Frank continues to fantasize about Emilia. Paula confronts Frank in their kitchen at night as he is about to take an Ambien. He tells her a true story about a fictional "Franco" who fears death. "Franco" is in the wrong movie with the wrong director and vulnerable to killers who live in the shadows. If only Sergio Leone was directing, says Frank, "Franco" could sleep like Clint, ready and able to defend himself, gun in hand, no matter how many bandits surrounded him—using his masculinity to survive. The end of his story brings them to silence and their distance is reflected in Frank’s dream where he and Paula evaporate in each other’s eyes as Frank traces his name down an unopened Valentine's Day card.
Right on cue, the Construction Workers are back on the street, irreverently mocking Valentine's Day as the scourge of men equivalent in scope to the infamous Massacre. As they rail on, they pass Joelle and put money in her collection box. Joelle rewards them with romantic justice as the two Irish Construction Workers meet two Irish women, in line, buying a sandwich at Mohammed's food cart. Instinctively, they recite between them an old Irish lullaby, in their native Gaelic. Their bond is set and the wild and warrior men are tamed and delivered from their isolation. The same cannot be said of Frank who continues to walk alone on a path in Central Park. He is as old now as the leaves of his past that fall behind him, the images of Emilia and Paula fresh as ever in his mind. The mind that could never choose.
I’ve been working on this project for ten years. It has had two full readings with different casts. Scenes have been workshopped, rewritten, added, removed, one scene became its own independent short film (unproduced). The screenplay has been submitted to festivals. A production team was fully assembled and then disbanded. New characters have come in, old characters cut, and now, 12 titles later, a terminal cost/benefit analysis has emerged, warning if I don’t make this film, I would be haunted for the rest of my life.
Then this occurred. My painter-son Wyatt was up on his lease at the Brewery and bound for Berlin. One of his murals is now one of our film’s posters. The studio was large, the ceilings high and it was easy to imagine its transformation into a sound stage. I cashed out my IRA and took over his lease August ’16. We shot all but one series of scenes “in studio” from July ’17 to April ’18. Our other locations were a lovely home in Calabasas, The Laws Railroad Museum in Bishop, and a magnificent, solitary sculpture of a dead tree just off Route 395 about a mile out of Bishop heading up to Mammoth Lakes.
All the New York City exterior scenes were shot right inside the Brewery studio as well. A 14’X20’ rear-projection screen and 3 silent treadmills made the magic happen. Cinematographer Steven Fadellin and I went to Manhattan and over a period of five days brought the city into the Brewery.
The decision to shoot in B&W was mutual between me and Steven and occurred early on in the process. Steven brought in a B&W photo of a man on a dirt road surrounded by trees and fields. The eye went at once to the man. If the photo had been in color, we would have had to look for him while noticing the colors of the fields, sky, etc. Color would have made the photo more of a Where’s Waldo experience, whereas the B&W told us immediately where our focus wanted to be. B&W puts the emphasis on the people, their faces, and the background is not an equal player. The decision made, what remained was how to light it and Gaffer John Belanger and Steven did their homework to make it come to life, not in a derivative way—we weren’t making a Noir homage—but in an original way, recognizable but imaginative. They innovated light.
I am more attracted to the irrational swirl of interior particles of the human condition than the linear logic of exterior plots—sort of a psychological pointillism. The most epic dramas are all silently pitched on internal battlefields and we enter them like dreams, cracking the code of their riddles.
I want to put the viewers in places and situations they recognize but without dropping the breadcrumbs to tell them how they got there. I want to open their private eye onto the impressionistic world of the Interior. Our shared Interior. The drama I prefer is the drama of the private “I”.
“Love is not Love” is a 90-minute Romantic Drama shot in B&W, 4K, using Sony and Red cameras, and movi m15.
Principal Photography began in July, 2017 and completed June, 2019.
The picture is locked, editing and score are complete, and sound design has begun under the quick and artful eye and ear of the film’s editor Karen Glienke. Alphadogs in Burbank is assisting with Post-Production.
Triskelion Entertainment, LLC is a signatory with SAG-AFTRA and “Love is not Love” was shot under their Ultra Low Budget Agreement. No date has been set for release.
Triskelion Entertainment, LLC was established in 2002, and produces original works for the screen. Completed films include the feature “Hotel Lobby” (2003), and three shorts: “A Cigar at the Beach” (2006), “Gift for Reba” (2007), and “LIMINAL” (2008).
For full Cast & Crew go to IMDb .