"Crafting a World on a Shoestring Budget": DP Luca Fantini, the New Talent Behind of "The Green Veil"
June 9, 2022

published by SHOOTonline

New York - The small screen doesn’t have the numbers of its big screen counterpart at the Tribeca Film Festival, which got underway last night (6/8) and runs through June 19. But the television and NOW entrants that made the festival cut also represent select company.

For a quick overview by comparison, the high-profile 2022 feature lineup for Tribeca spans 111 features and 16 online premieres from 151 filmmakers across 40 countries. There are 88 world premieres, two international premieres, seven North American premieres, two U.S. premieres and 11 New York premieres. 

Meanwhile Tribeca also brings the festival experience to the world of television by serving as a platform for fans to experience premieres of current and future favorites, along with live conversations featuring casts and creators. This year’s TV lineup features nine series premieres and two first looks at returning favorites, including ESPN’s The Captain, about iconic New York Yankee Derek Jeter; Amazon Prime Video’s A League of Their Own, inspired by the 1992 film, with Abbi Jacobson; Hulu’s Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons, a provocative exposé of Victoria’s Secret; HBO Max’s Menudo: Forever Young, a behind-the-scenes look at the multi-generational pop sensation; FX’s The Bear, an exhilarating ride through the culinary world; TIME Studios for A&E Network’s Right to Offend, a docuseries about the intrepid Black comedians who used laughter to push social boundaries and cultural change; EPIX’s Bridge and Tunnel, which follows a group of Long Islanders pursuing their Manhattan dreams, written and directed by Edward Burns; and the mid-season premiere of the final season of AMC’s Better Call Saul with Bob Odenkirk, Giancarlo Esposito, and Jonathan Banks..

And Tribeca’s NOW program unearths breakthrough independent episodic work, including short and long-form pilots and series. The 2022 NOW showcase focuses on six standout selections, including The Green Veil, a scripted anthology series about oppression in America from John Leguizamo and Aram Rappaport, and Cannabis Buyers Club, a dive into the little known story of the legalization of marijuana in the U.S. and also the most important LGBTQ+ rights struggle of the 20th century from Kip Andersen and Chris O’Connell.

“This year’s TV selections and NOW indie episodic pilots are an impressive array of both short- and long-form narrative and documentary projects. Our diverse network selections will excite everyone from sports fans to TV buffs awaiting premieres of highly-anticipated new series to sci-fi animation lovers,” said Tribeca sr. programmer Liza Domnitz. “The festival will also give audiences an early glimpse at--what will hopefully become--their next favorite series, with indie projects that include collaborators like John Leguizamo, Kathryn Bigelow, John Early, and Philip Glass.

Actor/producer/comedian Leguizamo and legendary composer Glass are connected to the aforementioned The Green Veil, which continues a collaborative relationship between Rappaport and Leguizamo. Rappaport wrote and directed the feature film The Crash, a 2017 release starring Leguizamo. Then Rappaport directed a Netflix special, John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons, based on the performer’s hit one-man Broadway show which examines the repression of Hispanic culture throughout American history.

Leguizamo and Rappaport are executive producers on The Green Veil, a series which Rappaport created, wrote and directed. Leguizamo stars as Gordon Rogers, a federal agent working tirelessly to complete a secretive mission while holding his fracturing family together in picture perfect post-World War II suburbia.

While shooting Latin History For Morons, Rappaport and Leguizamo started exploring a notion which ultimately yielded The Green Veil. “He [Leguizamo] wanted to play a self-hating Latin persona,” recalled Rappaport who explained that Leguizamo was fascinated by Latin Trump supporters whom he would describe as a “self-hating, self-loathing subset of America. He wanted to figure out a way to play one of those roles.”

Rappaport in turn came up with the story of a Latin FBI agent tasked with eliminating Native Americans in the 1950s--a situational context based on true events in which assimilation was forced upon Indigenous people. Rappaport saw Leguizamo’s character as reflecting “a real sense of oppression,” delving into the dark side of “the things you do to become American.” This oppressed world is thinly veiled within elements of a sci-fi narrative--not exactly, quipped Rappaport, the makings of a commercially marketable show as judged by conventional network television. So instead of waiting for someone else to give them a green light, Rappaport and Leguizamo gave themselves the go-ahead to bring the series to fruition. Funding for the eight episodes was generated by The Boathouse, Rappaport’s hybrid ad agency/production studio active in branding and commercialmaking for varied clients. The Green Veil marks The Boathouse’s first foray into episodic television.

The Green Veil making the Tribeca cut means a great deal to Rappaport who’s lived in New York for the past 10-plus years and is a major fan of the festival, the importance of which has been “ingrained” in him from a cultural perspective. But beyond the personal kick of getting into the festival, Rappaport and Leguizamo saw the professional benefits. Being selected by Tribeca carries a cachet which could prove helpful in getting a buyer and/or developer for the series--if not directly connecting them with prospective partners who are in attendance.

Also lending a special cachet to The Green Veil is Glass, widely regarded as one of the most influential modern composers. He has written operas and musical theater works, assorted symphonies and concertos, chamber music and several film scores, three of which (Kundun, The Hours, Notes on a Scandal) have been nominated for Oscars.

Rappaport reached out to Glass with a script for The Green Veil. Glass was drawn to the premise and story, agreeing to score it without having yet seen any footage.

Whereas Glass is an iconic artist, The Green Veil also tapped into “new talent,” including cinematographer Luca Fantini who has shot numerous commercials directed by Rappaport via The Boathouse. The Green Veil marks Fantini’s first foray into narrative TV and Rappaport said the DP excelled in the TV discipline, crafting a world on a shoestring budget.

The driving talent, though, behind The Green Veil, is Rappaport’s long-time friend and colleague, Leguizamo. “John is constantly evolving his material,” said Rappaport, adding tongue partially in cheek that whether it’s “neuroses or creative excellence,” he always strives for something better--from himself and those with whom he works. Rappaport recalled Leguizamo telling him that in order to take his show (Latin History for Morons) to Broadway, he has to do at least 300 performances to hone and refine the material.

The first two episodes of The Green Veil are being screened at Tribeca’s NOW showcase, the first unveiling slated for next week (6/13). Eight 30-minute episodes have been produced--and are ready for acquisition or further development--in order to gain exposure on a network and/or platform.

Finding voices
While The Green Veil delves into oppression in America, many of Tribeca’s other entries also give voice to the underrepresented--both in terms of stories and the filmmakers behind them. The alluded to feature lineup at Tribeca this year finds that more than 64 percent of the films are directed by female, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ filmmakers--46 percent (58) women directors, 34 percent (43) BIPOC directors, and eight percent (10) LGBTQ+ directors.

In that vein New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) announced that 30 projects from 32 members have been officially selected for the 2022 Tribeca Festival. The festival takes place June 8-19, 2022, both virtually and in-person in New York City.

The 30 projects span a remarkable 16 categories and exemplify the diversity of talent within the NYWIFT community. As the leading non-profit professional association for women in media in New York, NYWIFT boasts a membership made up of not only directors and producers, but writers, editors, casting professionals, actors, business executives, attorneys, and so much more. Many of those roles are reflected the in the 2022 NYWIFT Tribeca roster.

“Getting an acceptance letter from the Tribeca Film Festival in the middle of a pandemic and economic crisis is what creators of content dream of. We are thrilled that so many members of our NYWIFT community--tenacious, visionary, and powerful women--have been accepted to this prestigious festival. Content themes range from reproductive rights to artists portraits to immigration, and it is clear that women filmmakers have a unique finger on the pulse of what is happening in society today. We hope New Yorkers will come out to support our community and Tribeca and attend the festivities,” said NYWIFT executive director Cynthia Lopez.

Among the 32 members included are four NYWIFT Board members: Alex Cirillo produced the Derek Jeter documentary series The Captain and Audrey Rosenberg produced the HBO documentary Katrina Babies, a first-person account of the short-term and long-term devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. Leslie Fields-Cruz is the executive director of Black Public Media (BPM), which funded Inner Wound Real (LGBTQIA+ Shorts Program), After ShermanHazing, and LaJune. And NYWIFT board president Jamie Zelermyer is the creator, host, and executive producer of the Wonder Media podcast I Was Never There, selected for the Audio Storytelling Category. Zelermyer’s podcast explores the shocking disappearance of Marsha “Mudd” Ferber and her evolution from suburban housewife to feminist back-to-the-land hippie to drug-dealing bar owner, as Jamie and her mother.

I Was Never There falls within the true crime category but first and foremost I believe it is about a mother and a daughter and a time and place. After working in film for so many years it was both exciting and daunting to tackle a new format and I am so proud of the series and can’t wait to premiere at The Tribeca Festival,” said Zelermyer. 

“The reason my team at BPM works so hard to provide professional development, production funding, and expanded visibility for Black creatives, is so that the work of talented makers —like Byron Hurt, Carrie Hawks, Jon Sesrie Goff, and LaJune McMillian — can be appreciated by audiences everywhere,” said NYWIFT board member Fields-Cruz.

“Buck’s story and the stories of all the Katrina Babies are intertwined with the soul and fate of New Orleans and frankly with America as a whole. His voice lifts up an entire generation of survivors and shows us what it means to own your own narrative and define your own resilience. Tribeca Film Festival is the ideal place to premiere this documentary in competition!” said NYWIFT board member Rosenberg.

The Captain is ESPN’s tentpole series of 2022 and tells the story of one of the best New York Yankees of all time! We can’t wait to share this outstanding series with Tribeca audiences,” said NYWIFT board member Cirillo.

Also featured among the NYWIFT member projects is Signe Baumane’s animated feature My Love Affair with Marriage, in the International Narrative category. Baumane received a 2020 NYWIFT Ravenal Foundation Feature Film Grant for the project, presented to a woman filmmaker over 40 making her second feature. The musical narrative explores marriage through the lenses of mythology and contemporary neuroscience.

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