While I’ve been offering my observations on this page on a wide variety of topics every month for almost eight years, this time it’s personal as my pride is showing. Big time!
My daughter Amy and her partner Chris Stinson have been making movies together for a long time. All along the way my wife and I have been enjoying getting to know some behind-the-scenes ways the art form has attracted generations of millions since motion picture cameras were invented 130 years ago.
But now our experience has reached a pinnacle as news has just come that one of their films has been nominated for an Academy Award.
Wait … make that SIX Academy Awards!
The movie, a low-budget independent film, is “Sound of Metal.” It’s a story about the drummer in a metal band who has lost his hearing and faces a crisis that puts him into a life-changing world he never imagined.
His journey unfolds throughout the two-hour drama and draws in viewers with a compelling focus that makes you wonder how you would deal with a turning point for which you were totally unprepared to comprehend.
Dramatic artist Riz Ahmed delivers a break-through performance that earns him a nomination for the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.
His relationship with the manager of a facility for the deaf played by Paul Raci, himself raised by deaf parents and fluent in American Sign Language, is absorbing. Raci’s interpretation of his role earned him a nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role.
The Academy goes on to recognize the film with nominations for achievements in Best Sound, Best Original Screenplay and Film Editing.
With those top-of-industry recognitions, it may be no surprise that the Academy has nominated the movie as Best Motion Picture of the Year!
While always curious about how each of their projects were put together, I wanted to know more about how Amy and Chris’ remarkable success with this movie was achieved.
And, it almost didn’t happen at all.
“We first read the script in 2015,” Amy explains, “and three years later the crew and a highly diverse team of mostly local deaf actors, both adults and children, had been assembled and we began filming based in Boston.
“Then issues arose with our financiers, and it looked like we would have to shut down. So, Chris went to work with new investors, and we were able to begin principal photography on time.”
Leading actor Riz, when he was cast in the role, didn’t play drums nor did he know sign language. After months of diligent work to master both skills, he was ready to turn in a performance that has earned him additional best actor nominations from the Golden Globes and a score of other industry sources and entertainment media.
Not to be overshadowed by the human members of the cast, Amy and Chris’ dog Louie appeared in a supporting role. Louie, always a favorite of any cast, is a veteran and can be seen in other of their movies.
“We shot on film,” Amy emphasizes, “which is very costly and highly unheard of these days, especially on a low-budget independent film.”
Chris’ summary of the project concludes, “Crazy things happen when you combine a bunch of amazing filmmakers with one of the best scripts I’ve ever read. We stayed with this project through thick and thin over many years while multiple cast and financiers came and went until we finally ended with the perfect combo.”
So, what’s next for this pair?, you may ask. Right now they are producing a movie in New York with Ray Romano, who is making his directorial debut and starring in the film. “We’ve selected two new projects to follow later this year and, as always, lots of other ‘maybes’ out there as well.”
As Academy Award Nominees, this team will attract all kinds of new opportunities, and we’ll be along as eager parents who are among the best of movie fans everywhere, but, now, this is all delightfully personal.