Originally from Canton, writer/director Jake Thomas has been making movies most of his life. It shows. He knows how to craft a story without the audience even realizing our adventure had begun. The first 5 minutes of this film were the most simple and purrrrfect (I had to) moments to introduce me to Thomas’ minimal and casual slice-of-life style of storytelling. I was hooked enough to push pause and call a colleague and tell them to open my latest emailed screener link and watch SHEDDING right away.
Writer/Director Jake Thomas: “My first movies were on the family’s VHS camera. My brother and my friends would put on costumes and make our own versions of Peter Pan, Robin Hood, and original superheroes. I came to California thirteen years ago thanks to the Los Angeles Film Studies Center, and while I was a student there I interned for Garry Marshall’s company, which led to my first industry job. Over the last decade, while writing shorts, screenplays, and pilots, I ran a parallel track of working at three different studios (Universal, Paramount, and WB) in guest services.”
Thomas hopes this film will not only entertain, but inspire other filmmakers to use available resources and a do-it-yourself attitude in production. This film literally stars his cat, a live-in available resource. And, this cat is a pretty damn great actor. But, it’s not the only fab cat in SHEDDING.
Actor Lex Quarterman, the other actor to portray the cat, is the center of this entire movie. This brilliant, committed, and mesmerizing man is no man at all. He is cat. I believe it. I didn’t even laugh it off for a second. Thomas captured this performance in a gentle and thoughtful way, by letting Quarterman just be. That’s it. Thomas will win awards and collect accolades for letting the talented Quarterman just be and I am here for all of it. Quarterman is simple, emotional without relying on human facial emoting cues, hilarious by circumstance, and surprising. How do you even find a talent such as Lex Quarterman? How do you audition this? Thomas and Quarterman must have deeply trusted each other in order to bring about this seemingly authentic supernatural experience. This film should be shopped to acting AND directing teachers about how truly remarkable performances can and should come to life without a multi-million dollar budget. This movie is different, this movie is unique.
Thomas: “I hope audiences equally enjoy both the movie’s fantasy aspects and its genuine emotion. You forget how tragic or scary a fairy tale can be when it’s retold and glossed with familiarity. Since this is new and completely unfamiliar, hopefully it makes you sit up and take notice.”
Also, this movie is not CATS. Yes, there is a cat that is both played by a real life feline and a real life human, but it is nothing like the uncomfortable ungodly half-feline half-human uniqueness of CATS. This movie is about so much more than even just the cat’s supernatural journey.
:In this gentle, heartwarming fantasy, a bored and wistful city-dwelling house cat dreams of escaping into the outside world that awaits beyond his living room window. One morning, he awakens to discover himself mysteriously transformed into a human body, prompting his escape into the city. A kindhearted mother befriends the human-formed cat and invites him into her home to be clothed and fed. After a whirlwind day together, the cat meets the family’s stern daughter and frightens her with his uncanny resemblance to her recently deceased brother. Despite their fantastic differences, all three of them share a bond of longing that will lead from loneliness to reconciliation.” – Freestyle Media
As the Mother, I immediately knew something was ‘off’ about Karla Droege‘s character. I was struck enough to recognize she had a serious issue, but nothing I could explain to another person. Similar to when you know someone struggles, but don’t want to judge them for their uneven inappropriate responses to situations and lack of social assimilation. It is truly difficult to find this balance and Droege handled this delicate character with elegance. She unravelled an entire history in her actions before I had the story to back up my assertions. I knew her. I saw her. It was painful.
I immediately identified with Jacquelyn Zook‘s reactionary journey as the daughter. We knew ‘something’ was wrong and she filled us in with all we needed to know through her pull between frustration, anger, and then patient understanding. Her pain and her worry painted the room. Coming to an unexpected breaking point of sorts, she opened up and allowed healing where there might not have been without such deep grief. Zook’s character was handed an incredible amount of baggage to carry while processing loss AND that’s where we meet her, at her worst. Yet, Zook shined in the role without outshining her work.
Thomas: “I want audiences to understand how simply being present for somebody else can be life-changing for that person. We might sit for hours in the same room as a friend or relative, but be distracted by our thoughts and worries. But to be fully present and undistracted with someone, similar to how a cat or dog would act toward them, can be a huge comfort.”
This has been a wild year. Learning how to sit with people… but not ‘with’ people and process everything happening in the world is plain hard. But it is as rewarding as we hope it to be. This movie met me in a good place to encourage me. This movie is hopeful, encouraging, and fantastical. I was able to ask writer/director Jake Thomas about what he is taking away from our new-yet-not-permanent-normal.
Thomas: “The biggest area of growth for me this year has been how I’ve learned that it’s okay to be uncomfortable in new situations, and make decisions before I know the answer to every question. What’s important is to lean on the advice and accept help from knowledgeable people. And Zoom. I’ve learned Zoom.”
Watch this one curled up with a cat. Available on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube Movies, Cable and Satellite On Demand on December 8th! PRE-ORDER NOW
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