These weeks in quarantine can be a catalyst of creativity for some filmmakers, and that is the case with Chicago independent filmmaker and advertising director Larry Ziegelman. Larry has a new pilot in development, eyeing an early 2021 shoot date, alongside a new film in post and a couple of recent commercial campaigns. Let’s dive in…
In Ziegelman’s pilot, PUNDIT, an unknown, lesbian, comedic actress creates a conservative character for an audition (along the lines of a female Stephen Colbert) and mistakenly ends up getting hired as a pundit for a Fox-like News Channel. Her “right-wing-hate-spewing” persona becomes so popular with the nation and the President that she starts affecting U.S. policy, and eventually, her friends’ and family’s lives.
“Several months back, I decided to take a writing class at Second City,” Ziegelman told SCREEN. “I needed something like a class to motivate me and get me thinking. This was the idea that I came up with during that class. I love comedy and whether I like it or not, I’ve been sucked into the politics of the moment. This idea marries both of those. I like to think of it as a modern day TOOTSIE.”
This pilot also led Ziegelman to a new collaborator, writer and Associate Creative Director at Cramer-Krasselt, Niki Condon Kilgore. “I’ve always been someone that likes collaboration and also believes in ‘write what you know.’ So, I felt strongly that I needed to pair up with a female writer to tackle this project.” Condon Kilgore and Ziegelman look to enter the script into writing or pitch competitions this year, and hope to film the pilot in early 2021.
New Short Film Nearing Finish Line
Speaking of collaborations, Larry is in the midst of a new short film working alongside his twin brother and Dreamworks vet, Terry. In BROKEN VESSELS, Jane, an isolated woman caught in an abusive relationship, must fight for her life against an aggressive cancer. It is only through her new friendship with Naomi, another person with cancer, that she finds the strength that she never thought possible. Larry best describes the ambitious project as “part sci-fi, fantasy, horror, drama, and superhero-origin-story all rolled up into one short film.”
The sibling duo filmed in Los Angeles this past February. Terry penned this script three years back and brought his brother on to bring the story to the screen. “Since our father passed away last year, this project was an opportunity for us to bond together creatively like we did when we were growing up,” Larry shared with SCREEN. “My focus as a filmmaker has always been how can I make a scene funnier and more surprising. Terry comes from a whole different perspective. He is a lighting and compositing artist at Dreamworks, so his focus is on the lighting and the visual details of the scene. Plus, with Terry’s connections in the industry, we were able to have some amazing people onset including a visual effects supervisor and a practical effects artist. This film will have all the bells and whistles of a high budget film.”
Keeping Busy in the Commercial World
Ziegelman keeps his bills paid as a commercial director across the U.S. Larry directed a campaign for Detroit Zoo alongside Doner Detroit and their in-house production company. The spots are now airing regionally and you can click here to watch them this instant. Larry also headed up a campaign for Fairhaven Wealth Management with the Chicago production company, Kindred Content. This campaign is expected to release online later this year.
Feature Film in the Works?
A final note with the Ziegelman’s short film BROKEN VESSELS: One of the main characters, Naomi, is based on their high school friend, who passed away from cancer in 2018. “She was able to read an early version of the script before she died,” Larry shared with SCREEN. “She really loved it. In fact, she wanted to read a full-length feature of the idea. Someday we hope to write that.”
Photo Credit: Zeke Anders