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A Magically Realistic Romantic Comedy with a Secret Queer Agenda

Peter is approaching 30 and still trying to navigate the modern online dating culture. After a whimsical, romantic evening with a mysterious young woman ends with him waking up alone, Peter tries to put the night behind him by turning to a new dating site guaranteed to find his perfect match. But with each date from the site, Peter notices strange similarities between each woman and that first amazing date. As the connection between these women is revealed, Peter discovers a whole new world full of people and experiences that will make him challenge his notions of identity, sexuality, and love.

Director's Statement

One of my earliest significant film ventures was the creation of a documentary. When I was nineteen, I decide to chronical my little cousin in the month leading up to her fifth birthday. She was assigned male at birth and started presenting as female before she could even form complete sentences. Before that project, I considered her to be a flamboyant little boy who liked to play with dolls and wear dresses. Through observing that child’s kindness, creativity, genuineness, and unapologetic resilience, I became inspired to research transgender issues. I followed up with another documentary following four Southern transgender women of different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds as they dealt with different stages of transition.  I became heavily invested in queer advocacy, queer theory, and intersectional feminism, and these concepts have become integral to my morality and artistic identity. Since the start of this journey, I’ve been looking for a way to incorporate these themes into my narrative filmmaking. 

In my struggles with explaining my cousin’s identity to my less progressive family members and friends, I began to search for ways of talking about gender that would let them engage empathetically with her struggle. One of the best analogies I came up with was to imagine waking up tomorrow in a body with a different sex. To imagine the frustration of having to defend your expression of your inner self. That analogy developed into an intersectional allegory: a changeling. Someone who wakes up every day with constantly changing body.

Many of the struggles changelings face in The Way You Look Tonight– self harm, body dysmorphia, and documentation issues – are all directly drawn from the lived experiences of queer people I’ve met. I chose to make the changeling the love interest rather than the protagonist because I wanted a point-of-view to which the heteronormative majority could attach themselves. It is Peter’s responsibility to engage empathetically with Heloise and her experiences just as it’s the responsibility of the privileged majority to understand the disenfranchised minority. Rather than a direct one-to-one representation of transgender identity, this allegory forces the viewer to look at gender and sexuality through a broad queer lens.  To do this, the film masquerades for a time as a generic straight romantic comedy with a mystery element to draw in the viewer. Once the intrigue is established, the film develops to a relationship dramedy, exploring the larger struggles of loving a person when they don’t have a consistent physical identity.

That’s why this project has to be a feature (and why I came to UCLA to make it): love is not a moment. It is not a short story. It is complicated, consistently unfolding series of triumphs and struggles. This film does not encapsulate love. But it does look to present a significant change within one person as they learn to love another, and that, for me, is the biggest thing in the world.

About The Crew

 
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John Cerrito (Writer/Director) was born and raised in Memphis, TN. John  grew up in his family’s restaurant, spraying himself in the face with the bar's soda gun at every opportunity. A self-proclaimed Mama’s boy, John was raised in the mixed environment of a big southern family on one side and Catholic guilt Italians on the other.  John is an MFA thesis candidate at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television. His directing credits include The Opposite of Echoes (2016) and Development (2017). He has a strong interest in LGBT activism and Queer Theory.  Above all else, John strives to make a difference by facilitating otherwise ignored or underrepresented social issues to the screen, to widen the dialogue and (hopefully) affect change.  He’s sort of what would happen if Woody Allen and Spongebob Squarepants had a baby – but, you know, without all the gross stuff. A sort of neurotic, super self-aware human Muppet, if you will. Here he is doing that thing where directors pretend to gesture at something to look like they're in charge. 

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Masaya Tajika (Producer) graduated from the UCLA Producer’s Program in 2016. His feature credits include Love Goes Through Your Stomach (2017) and Between Waves (2016). His short film productions include Take Care of Yourself  (2015) and Development (2016). He currently works at Warner Brothers.  Doesn’t he look like a model in this picture? So happy. So free.

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Marcel Perez (Producer) is not, in fact, Toby Kieth, and was born and raised in Miami, Florida. He produced the independent feature I Before Thee (2017). 

 

 

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Julia Angley (Producer) is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and a first year MFA Director at UCLA's School of Theater, Film, and Television. Is she about to break your heart or you face in this picture? Who can truly say.

 

Adanne Ebo (Associate Producer) is a graduate of Northwestern Law School. She produced short films such as Keaton Olsen for HOA President: A Mild Inconvenience, and Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul. She is the producer and co-creater of SupaShawty Girls Funkadelic RoboMagic BangBang, a satirical animation parody.

Marcus Patterson (Director of Photography) is a cinematographer born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. There he experienced smothering humidity, deep conservatism, Southern Baptist hymns, football Saturdays (and Sundays, Mondays, and some Thursdays), food fried to perfection, a surprisingly strong music scene, mowing lawns, and the best damn neighbors you'll ever meet. He's inspired by new places and interesting characters. Currently pursuing an MFA in cinematography from UCLA TFT, the gritty South sneaks it's way into most of his projects in one way or the other.

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Alicia Herder (First Assistant Director) is a MFA Candidate at the UCLA school of Theatre, Film and Television. She has directed the short films Our Window (2015), Isla Vista (2016) and Diego on My Mind. Alicia was a National Finalist at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and has been awarded union membership with the Stage Directors and Choreographers Guild in 2014.  John stole this bio from a presentation she sent him. 

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Monika Dovnar (Production Designer) is an award-winning production designer and art director in film, television, and VR. Her credits include Deadly Delusion, The Romantic Movement, and the upcoming film Paint it Red

 

 

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Keelin Quigley (Costume Designers) is a costume design graduate from the UCLA Theater Department. Keelin’s credits include My Strat (2016), Forever and Always (2016) and Development (2017). 

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Adamma Ebo (Script Supervisor)  is a thesis candidate as UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television. Her directing credits include films whose titles are so long they could not be included here. She has a passion for animation, television writing, dressing well, dark humor, and satire.

 

Will Bryson (Editor) is a director, writer, producer, and editor. He is the creator of Milo’s Misfits, an LGBTQ-friendly children’s series. He is an MFA candidate at Maryland Institute College of Art. His work has screened at the Indie Memphis Film Festival and the Maryland Film Festival. It is an eighty percent certainty that Jim Henson’s spirit is currently inhabiting his body.


Production Timeline

June 1st 2017 - Kickstarter Launches

August 2017 - Begin Principal Photography

September 2017 -  Wrap Principal Photography