Saturday, January 22, 2011

For David Letterman's Consideration: Pervertigo

The film title Pervertigo is hard to ignore. Especially when it is attached to an indie black comedy that contains various narrative nods to the Master of Suspense.

Shot in David Letterman's hometown of Indianapolis this past September and October, the movie is the creative collaboration of producer Shrihari Sathe and writer-director Jaron Henrie-McCrea. Before they met at Columbia University film school, Henrie-McCrea attended the talk show host's Alma Mater, Ball State, where he earned a "David Letterman Scholarship."

The fund, which helps underwrite small films, was started in the 1980s and is open to any student in the Telecommunications Department at the school. Henrie-McCrea won a $10,000 first place prize one year to make See, a short film about a man who tries to kill himself in a bathtub.

(l to r) Sathe, Henrie-McCrea on set at 1 a.m.

“If I could promote Pervertigo on the Late Show, I might literally explode,” Henrie-McCrea tells FilmStew via email when asked whether or not Dave will be a PR target for the film. “I grew up watching Dave, worked at the same grocery store he did (under the same boss too), and of course went to the same university. We don't know anyone who works on the show, but we would be very excited to meet or get in touch with someone there.”

The plot of Pervertigo involves a tenant, Lloyd Gillis (Martin Monahan), his landlord (Mark Zeisler) and the landlord's wife (Jodi Stevens). In deference to Vertigo, Gillis is forced to by the landlord to participate in a nefarious scheme to kill his wife. But instead the fear of heights that cornered James Stewart in Vertigo, the landlord exploits Gillis' culpability as a peeping tom.

“There are a few instances where we mimic the more famous shots in Vertigo,” Henrie-McCrea confirms.

Perhaps the most Hitchockian moment of all though involved the genesis of the film's title. It was initially known hilariously as Untitled Pervert Movie until one morning, when inspiration struck the writer-director while he was in... the shower!

DP Chad Cooper

Meanwhile, Sathe says he was surprised one day to discover a further Hitchcock bond shared with Henrie-McCrea. “I wasn't aware of this till I asked Jaron,” he recalls, “but both his and my favorite Hitchcock film is Strangers on a Train, and it even goes down to the scene... The fight scene between Bruno and Guy on the out-of-control carousel as an old carny crawls underneath to switch it off. It's a really fun sequence, with great visuals and of course suspense.”

Sathe has a film company set up in Mumbai called Infinitum Productions Pvt Ltd, where his dad Shekhar works as director of development. His far-flung connections helped secure the foreign portion of the private placement funds that bankrolled Pervertigo.

Among the Columbia film school influences who helped shape the M.O. of this indie team were Peter Sollett, Michael Hausman, Ira Deutchman and Michael Barker. Sathe also during his studies was awarded a Hollywood Foreign Press Association fellowship as an international student. The plan is to start rolling out Pervertigo to festivals by mid-year.


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