Cynthia Wade talks "Freeheld"

Feature film based on the Oscar-winning documentary
Post Reply
User avatar

Topic author
Dominik
Webmaster
Webmaster
Posts: 1067
Joined: Nov 14, 2008 12:23 am
Location: Baden-Baden
Contact:
Status: Offline

Nov 25, 2010 12:10 am

Cynthia Wade gives us some details on the "Freeheld" film
Posted by Trish Bendix, Managing Editor on November 24, 2010

Filmmaker Cynthia Wade may be a married mother of two, but she's one of the biggest allies the lesbian community has seen in the last five years. Wade was behind the Oscar winning documentary short Freeheld which followed Lt. Laurel Hester as she battled terminal lung cancer and the Ocean County, New Jersey freeholders in an attempt to have her pension given to her partner, Stacie Andree, after her imminent death.

While Freeheld did well at film festivals and screened on both HBO and Logo, Hester and Andree's story is going to get an even bigger push when it becomes a feature film in the next year, with Ellen Page attached to play Stacie.

"Back in late 2005, when I first met Laurel and Stacie, I spoke with them about the idea of their story becoming the basis for a feature film," Wade wrote in an e-mail to AfterEllen.com "They were amazed that anyone 'would care' about their lives and their struggle. They were very much in the midst of their intense fight for Laurel’s pension, and they were managing Laurel’s rapidly progressing cancer on a daily basis, so it was difficult for them to see the big picture — how their lives, which they saw as very ordinary, would be interesting or moving to a larger audience.

"I remember sitting on the bed with Laurel," she continued, "talking to her about both the documentary, and the possibility of a feature film for a larger audience, and her eyes widened. She was excited by the idea, as she wanted her struggle to mean something to the world. But it seemed a bit outlandish to her, because she was just living her life. "

But both women trusted Wade and were open to any ideas she had as to how to get the word out.

"They both agreed to let me retain the 'life rights' to their story," she said.

The feature film is in the works with Double Feature Films and Endgame Entertainment, and is being written by Ron Nyswaner, who was behind Philadelphia, a film starring Tom Hanks as a gay man who sued his employer for firing him after they found out he had AIDS.

Since Freeheld was a short (roughly 37 minutes long), there's a lot more going into the feature film, including background on Laurel's work as a policewoman.

"She worked for 25 years in a very male-dominated world, and risked her life many times in scary situations," Wade said. "According to everyone who worked with her, she was brave, honest, incredibly hard working, but sometimes overlooked for promotions because she was a woman. The stories surrounding her work are gripping and intense, and worthy of more coverage than I was able to fit into a short documentary. Those scenes should be very exciting!"

It will also show us how Laurel and Stacie met.

"It is important that the audience get to know Laurel and Stacie as an ordinary couple — loving each other, paying bills and setting up a home and everything else that comes with a long-term commitment — before we discover that Laurel is ill," Wade said. "I never knew Laurel and Stacie prior to Laurel’s illness — by the time I’d met them, their roles had settled into patient and caregiver. It’s really important, especially for the heterosexual audience, to see Laurel and Stacie’s relationship as any other."

Since Freeheld's release on DVD, Stacie Andree has been able to go back to living a private life, but Wade said she is supportive of the development of the feature film.

"Stacie really likes and respects Ron very much," Wade said. "He has spent extensive time with Stacie, gathering information and details about her life and relationship with Laurel, and those times have been filled with lots of details, laughter and some tears."

And Ellen Page playing her must also be a plus.

"She saw the documentary and was moved by the story," Wade said of Page's attachment to the movie. "She understands the potential power of a feature version of the film. She is a very smart and very talented. I am thrilled that she is involved in this project — she has countless offers to appear in many movies, and the fact that she is so strongly attached to this film is a testament to how special Laurel Hester was, and how important Laurel and Stacie’s story is to this country’s slow move towards true equality."

As of now, Wade says Nyswaner is working on the first draft of the screenplay and there will be several more drafts written before production will begin.

"Everyone involved in this project wants this film to be very effective, moving and well done, so I am personally prepared for the long haul," Wade said. "The final film will be much better and much stronger because the team is not rushing to throw something together. We are all invested in the quality of the final product."

In the meanntime, Wade's latest documentary, Born Sweet, has been receiving great reviews and focuses on another down-and-out person who seeks to triumph against all odds. It follows a Cambodian boy "who is dying of arsenic poisoning but dreams of being a karaoke star." It has won nine festival awards and is looking good for an Oscar nomination this year.

Source: afterellen.com
There's nothing to fear, nothing to doubt.
Nothing is true, everything is permitted.
User avatar

JimH
Benefactor
Benefactor
Posts: 666
Joined: Sep 08, 2009 2:55 am
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Status: Offline

Nov 25, 2010 12:28 am

And Ellen Page playing her must also be a plus.
"She saw the documentary and was moved by the story," Wade said of Page's attachment to the movie. "She understands the potential power of a feature version of the film. She is a very smart and very talented. I am thrilled that she is involved in this project — she has countless offers to appear in many movies, and the fact that she is so strongly attached to this film is a testament to how special Laurel Hester was, and how important Laurel and Stacie’s story is to this country’s slow move towards true equality."
Thanks for finding this Dominink! This movie has the potential of not only presenting a moving story of love and courage but also helping to foster tolerance and understanding in the larger community. This is exactly the type of part that Ellen was born to play.
I can't wait to see it.
Each moment is an opportunity to make a fresh start. (Pema Chodron)
User avatar

Glee Plane
Must be a Haligonian
Must be a Haligonian
Posts: 504
Joined: Aug 15, 2010 4:16 am
Location: D.C.
Status: Offline

Nov 25, 2010 12:48 am

Great article, I really look forward to this film!
Image
User avatar

GiveHimTheKick
Knows all movies
Knows all movies
Posts: 408
Joined: Jul 22, 2010 3:28 pm
Status: Offline

Nov 25, 2010 7:17 pm

Can't wait to see Ellen in a close dramatic role. It's been a while since she did something so focused (maybe the Tracey Fragments) and I think it'll really boost others opinions of her, as opposed to their current understanding of "that girl from Juno". Maybe Oscar bells ringing too? :happyhappy:
In the country dead bodies live in swamps and ditches and shallow graves. A man dumps the body of a girl in a ditch. The body rotts melts into slime. Flowers pop up where the body lies, seeds fly out of the flowers and a bee sucks the flowers and makes honey. Then the family of the girl buys the honey from the store. And the family eats the girl.
User avatar

HeartHer
Must be a Haligonian
Must be a Haligonian
Posts: 761
Joined: Jul 20, 2010 10:26 am
Location: Hermosa Beach, CA
Status: Offline

Nov 30, 2010 2:07 am

GiveHimTheKick wrote:Can't wait to see Ellen in a close dramatic role. It's been a while since she did something so focused (maybe the Tracey Fragments) and I think it'll really boost others opinions of her, as opposed to their current understanding of "that girl from Juno". Maybe Oscar bells ringing too? :happyhappy:
That's my hope too, although honestly no matter what she does in the future, in 70 years if/when I'm 86, senile, and forgetting everything, I'll remember Ellen as Juno. Not a bad role to be known as really, but I do hope she can add a dramatic role to her resume of bigger movies. The only major box office hit she's had a role in that wasn't a comedy (well hell I guess there have only been 2 :p) is Inception and for some reason people seem to forget she was in it already :rolleye: .
User avatar

JimH
Benefactor
Benefactor
Posts: 666
Joined: Sep 08, 2009 2:55 am
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Status: Offline

Jun 02, 2011 5:13 pm

Maybe it's time to resurrect this topic. In the latest Collider interview, Ellen mentions she'd like to start shooting Freeheld soon:

http://collider.com/ellen-page-interview-super/82617/
3:32. Upcoming projects. Hopes to make Freeheld soon, written by Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia). She’s still developing the TV show Stitch and Bitch with Alia Shawkat and Robert Tillman.
Maybe if we all wish real hard it will actually happen :fingercrossed:

UPDATE: June 2nd, 2011

Bad news from director director Catherine Hardwicke:
http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/popwrap/i ... d6lD58gjIK
PW: IMDB, that fountain of misinformation, claims your next project will be "Freeheld" -- a drama about Stacie Andree and her police detective girlfriend Laurel Hester, who both battled to secure Hester’s pension benefits after she was diagnosed with a terminal illness -- starring Ellen Page. True?
Catherine: I don’t know where that’s coming from – but of course, I wish it was true. I wish I could get financing for that movie. I love that project, Ellen is awesome and we have a beautiful script. But as always the challenge for an indie film is getting someone to pay for this unique, different and daring vision. I don’t think it’s going to be my next movie. Or at least it doesn’t look likely.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/popwrap/i ... z1O8DmLf69
Each moment is an opportunity to make a fresh start. (Pema Chodron)
User avatar

Topic author
Dominik
Webmaster
Webmaster
Posts: 1067
Joined: Nov 14, 2008 12:23 am
Location: Baden-Baden
Contact:
Status: Offline

Jun 03, 2011 10:54 am

Damn Jim you were a bit faster than me yesterday. :) Although it's a bummer, I appreciate that someone speaks plainly about the project. Considering the current situation, I'm once again wondering why the involved agencies and production companies give out a press release while only a single actor has signed on and the (financial) future of the project is still not clear at this point. Wouldn't it make more sense to wait with the first announcement until certain things are set in stone and the director as well as the major cast are being finalized?

Ellen's manager Kelly Bush, who will serve as a producer, is often portrayed as one of Hollywood's most powerful women in the press. While I don't think this isn't true per se, I also ask myself why she didn't have the proper connections to get a funding for this yet. I mean, an independent film project based on an Academy Award winning documentary with a Academy Award-nominated actress, an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and a capable director/good indie filmmaker attached to it shouldn't have such problems, should it? Am I overrating this "Academy Award" thing here?! :D

On the other hand, I believe the required budget is similar to Juno (< US $10 mio), so why don't Bush, Page and Hardwicke, who certainly made good money with "Twilight," and others just put their own money in and get this done. I know that's not the way things work in the film business, but, like I recently wrote on Twitter, why does everything have to be so complicated? Maybe they should ask James Gunn for an advice - he knows how to make a movie with a very, very low budget. :yellowink: :spendmoney:
There's nothing to fear, nothing to doubt.
Nothing is true, everything is permitted.
User avatar

JimH
Benefactor
Benefactor
Posts: 666
Joined: Sep 08, 2009 2:55 am
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Status: Offline

Jun 04, 2011 5:45 pm

Dominik wrote:......
Ellen's manager Kelly Bush, who will serve as a producer, is often portrayed as one of Hollywood's most powerful women in the press. While I don't think this isn't true per se, I also ask myself why she didn't have the proper connections to get a funding for this yet. I mean, an independent film project based on an Academy Award winning documentary with a Academy Award-nominated actress, an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and a capable director/good indie filmmaker attached to it shouldn't have such problems, should it? Am I overrating this "Academy Award" thing here?! :D
.........
I find this whole thing frustrating. With so much crap being put out these days in the name of "entertainment", cinema is loosing it's true meaning as a socially impacting art form. Hell if I had the money I'd give it to them to make this movie and could care less if it returned on the "investment". "Philadelphia" was distributed by TriStar (Sony) - I think. Perhaps that's what's needed to get this truly important project off the ground - get it made through one of the majors. Of course, we're not privy to all the backroom wheeling and dealing so who knows what the real issues are. But I think you're right Dominik when you say they should have kept this under wraps until things were solid - its been too much of a tease and subsequent disappointment for those us expectantly waiting for this potentially ground breaking work.

Some examples and discussion on the role of film and social issues in this Washington Post article:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 01210.html
Each moment is an opportunity to make a fresh start. (Pema Chodron)
User avatar

UCFRdWarrior
Must be a Haligonian
Must be a Haligonian
Posts: 2129
Joined: Nov 16, 2008 4:20 am
Location: Florida
Status: Offline

Jun 08, 2011 7:08 am

It is getting harder for films to get funding. especially those not involving CGI, superheroes, or pasty vampires :D

And, even tougher for films like the subject matter in Freeheld. A movie like Freeheld will be a tough sell to theatres in most of the USA...not only because it deals with same-sex issues....also there is a major witch-hunt going on in the USA agaist government workers against their pay and benefits. A film with same-sex partner receiving government benefits will not fare well in a lot of the USA at this moment

Also, I do not think Ellen, Kelly, or Ms Hardwicke have the capital available to fund a project on their own. Yes, they all have more money than we will ever see :D , but, they cannot sacrifice a big chunk of their wealth or capital for a project that cannot attract other investors.

Milo (Bluetoes) has very good insights on the film industry....hopefully he can add some more to this (once he gets over Game 3 of the Stanley Cup....ouch)
Image
User avatar

bluetoes591
Internet Ninja
Internet Ninja
Posts: 4118
Joined: Nov 16, 2008 7:05 am
Location: Vancouver, BC
Contact:
Status: Offline

Jun 08, 2011 7:40 pm

The cardinal rule of arts funding is never use your own money. Anything more than filling a small gap in funding will have you upside down in no time. If you can't convince somebody else to fund your project, then chances are you can't convince enough people to watch it to recoup the money either.

Game three... :purpleconfused: :confused: :haeh: :uhoh: :dead: :disappointed: :whatever: :yuck: :totallysick:
EPO's only formerly bi-coastal member.
Image
User avatar

UCFRdWarrior
Must be a Haligonian
Must be a Haligonian
Posts: 2129
Joined: Nov 16, 2008 4:20 am
Location: Florida
Status: Offline

Jun 09, 2011 4:56 am

Thanks Milo! I can see why artists do not fund their own projects. Makes sense.

As for the Canucks....hey they get some home cooking in a few days. Hang in there
Image
User avatar

bluetoes591
Internet Ninja
Internet Ninja
Posts: 4118
Joined: Nov 16, 2008 7:05 am
Location: Vancouver, BC
Contact:
Status: Offline

Jun 09, 2011 8:36 am

UCFRdWarrior wrote:Thanks Milo! I can see why artists do not fund their own projects. Makes sense.

As for the Canucks....hey they get some home cooking in a few days. Hang in there
The one exception is doing a small project to create opportunities for larger ones, making a short film to prove yourself and get funding to make a feature for example. I've worked on short films like this, with big names even, but a new production company that needed to create a calling card film. And just last month I was in Las Vegas working with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Search and Rescue unit. My boss paid for that production because it was a fantastic opportunity to prove ourselves and the results are going to bring us tons and tons of work in the future. Just wait until I can share some stuff from that trip, it blows even our minds. And besides, if there are big names attached to a project, eventually you can find some sucker to fund pretty much anything, you just need some patience.

Game four. :evilcensored: :grumble: :bequiet: :wall: :wall: :wall: :curse:
EPO's only formerly bi-coastal member.
Image
User avatar

Topic author
Dominik
Webmaster
Webmaster
Posts: 1067
Joined: Nov 14, 2008 12:23 am
Location: Baden-Baden
Contact:
Status: Offline

Aug 23, 2012 10:59 am

Finally some news on the project:
Incognito To Finance ‘Freeheld’, Based On Landmark Gay Rights Case
By Mike Fleming | Wednesday August 22, 2012 @ 6:14pm EDT

Incognito Pictures, a new production company led by producer/financier Jack Selby and veteran film producer Scott Stone, has stepped up to produce and finance a feature adaptation of Freeheld, the Oscar-winning documentary short. Ellen Page is attached to star and Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia) wrote the script. Double Feature Films partners Stacey Sher and Michael Shamberg are also producing with Kelly Bush and Kristina Sorensen of Vie Entertainment, James Stern of Endgame Entertainment, and Cynthia Wade. Wade directed the 2007 documentary, and Endgame developed the feature script.

Page will play Stacie Andree, who was denied the pension benefits of her longtime partner and New Jersey police detective Laurel Hester, when the latter became terminally ill. While Hester’s detective partner Dane Wells was conservative and surprised to learn of Hester’s orientation, Wells stepped up to become the leader in the fight for Laurel’s rights to assign her benefits to Andree. Page is repped by WME, VIE Entertainment and attorney Kevin Yorn, Nyswaner by UTA and Anonymous Content.

Source: http://www.deadline.com
There's nothing to fear, nothing to doubt.
Nothing is true, everything is permitted.
User avatar

plexus
True Ellen Page Fan
True Ellen Page Fan
Posts: 251
Joined: Oct 27, 2010 1:43 pm
Status: Offline

Aug 23, 2012 12:59 pm

Wow, that's good news.
When the entry for 'Freeheld' was removed from Ellens IMDb page, I thought the project is dead.
Seems, it's gonna be made after all. :)
Beware! Reading jeopardizes stupidity!

elizabethanne
Frequent Visitor
Frequent Visitor
Posts: 13
Joined: Mar 25, 2009 2:09 am
Status: Offline

Oct 15, 2012 12:29 pm

Does anyone know when filming begins on Freeheld?
Post Reply