For Filmmaker, Patience Is A Virtue

In any profession, persistence is a virtue. In filmmaking, it's a necessity.

Vanessa Parise's follow-up to 2002's “Kiss the Bride” has been years in the making.

But finally everything has come together. The work is done. The film is wrapped. The premiere is very nearly here.

The director/producer/writer/actress/Westerly native will see “Jack and Jill Vs. the World” debut Friday in Los Angeles and then bow April 11 in her home state of Rhode Island, albeit in Providence rather than Westerly.

While it might seem as though it took a long time for “Jack and Jill” to reach the silver screen, it's not out of the ordinary for independently made films. Parise likes to think of it this way: in the indie movie world, a person is a movie studio — but with 1/20 of the money and 1/20 of the help.

“It's ridiculous,” Parise says. “I'm completely baffled by the concept that it takes that long. ... It's the money part. It's all raising the financing. For independent films, it's a nightmare. It's like a house of cards.”

She says producers can get close to their goal, only to have one part of the financing fall apart.

As for who she approached for financing (and the budget hasn't been made public), she says, “Anyone and everyone.”

It took a year and a half to raise the money. Before that, it was six to eight months for her to co-write the script with Peter Stebbings. Then came the actual filming, six months in Toronto. Editing, adding the music and handling all the other finishing details required another year, wrapping in September.

The movie stars Freddie Prinze Jr. as a straight-laced ad exec and Taryn Manning as a free spirit. Their opposites-attract romance goes awry when she isn't honest about where she disappears to for days at a time. It turns out she has cystic fibrosis, a chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system.

And, despite that plot turn, this is essentially a romantic comedy. The storyline was inspired by young women with cystic fibrosis who were profiled on NPR's “My So-Called Lungs.”

The movie is being screened at two fundraisers for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation — a pre-release benefit Thursday in Los Angeles and April 9 in Providence, at the Providence Place Theater. “Jack and Jill” will start its regular run April 11 at that same Rhode Island cinema. In June, it will hit the Lifetime cable channel. (The movie's Web site is

Parise, who was the valedictorian of Westerly High School's Class of 1988, wasn't originally headed for a life in showbiz. She graduated magna cum laude in biology from Harvard and was all set to enter Harvard Medical School when a summer spent at Circle in the Square theater in New York City changed her life.

She took a deferment from medical school and acted Off-Broadway, earning good notices, including from The New York Times, for her performance in “Seascape.” Yet, her passion was film, and she headed to Hollywood.

“Kiss the Bride” was filmed partly in Westerly. Parise won a best actress award at Cinequest and best feature film honors at the Hamptons and Sarasota film festivals. That film, which also starred Alyssa Milano and Talia Shire, focused on four grown sisters in a big, boisterous Italian family.

In “Jack and Jill,” Parise wrote herself a great role, as the kooky best friend who dresses differently each day, depending on how she feels — goth, '80s Madonna.

Parise is looking forward to being back in Rhode Island for the Providence benefit screening.

“I'm so nostalgic. I'm really excited to come home. I really miss it. It's so different. I like the East Coast, and Rhode Island has this layered feeling to it, this history to it,” she says.

All of her high school friends have been getting in touch, as have her Harvard buddies.

She cannot wait for an audience to see her film.

“I'm so excited,” she says. “This is the fun part.”

And a well-earned reward for perseverance.

This is the opinion of Kristina Dorsey.
Article UID=a0e97397-8290-4623-8d59-9bbc28be5c2a

Hide Comments


Loading comments...
Hide Comments