Pretty Doesn't Hurt: a short film
Pretty Doesn't Hurt explores the awkwardness that occurs around the loaded question of who pays for dinner. This seemingly inconsequential issue has big emotional ramifications, especially for the young girl witnessing the transaction.
Mission StatementThe Pretty Doesn’t Hurt team varies in race, gender and age. While our lived experiences differ, we share a passion for stories that disrupt and spark conversation. Our film magnifies the small moments witnessed by a child, shining a light on how these moments inform the adults we become.
About The Project
On a weekend away in a nondescript town, all eleven-year-old Julia wants to do is swim in a hotel pool. All her aunt wants to do is finally relax. And all her mother wants to do is think about anything other than her ex. But their plans are disrupted when a handsome musician asks them to dinner. What follows is an evening of old habits, micro-aggressions, and missed opportunities. Someone is embarrassed, someone is abandoned, and everyone, but especially Julia, is left wondering: what exactly went wrong?
A message from our writer, Brooke:
This film is rooted in memory, based on an experience that I had as a young girl 'Up North' in Petoskey, Michigan. I’d forgotten about it until after the death of my mother and my subsequent reunion with her younger sister. As a child, I’d heard this story retold as an example of my precociousness. But as an adult, I saw it quite differently. To me now, the story is insidious and emblematic as to how I was taught to think about gender and money. Moreover, I had never before seen the story through my aunt’s point of view. Once I did that, it was impossible to ignore the power dynamic between the two women and the girl watching them -- and learning. In my mother's playbook, pretty women don't pay for themselves. In my playbook, those are sobering -- and dangerous-- ideas to feed our daughters.
I have long been obsessed with the films Hideous Kinky and Entre Nous which employ a similar trick in point-of-view. Both stories are told – very subtly and skillfully -- through the lens of young, invisible-ish daughters. We focus on the charismatic mother. But later, we feel the complex web of emotion and ambivalence through the gaze of her offspring. How do young women hold, internalize, and catalogue the experience of our mothers, who essentially shape our world view?
At a time when so many things are changing, it is imperative to catch these messages, to correct course and teach our children self-respect.
Development and Vision
A note from our director, Jennifer:
As a director and a mother of a young child, I first felt drawn to Brooke's script as it very honestly depicts the everyday ways we abandon our children when caught in fixed patterns of behavior in our adult relationships. The script doesn't demonize or shame the characters, but rather bares their flaws and limitations in a very human way.
Pretty Doesn't Hurt is about gender dynamics and money. It’s also about how race is inextricably tied up with both when everyone at the table isn’t white.
As we workshopped the script during this year of global reckoning around racism, we deeply investigated the very layered interaction between the adult characters and continue to do so as we move toward production.
I envision an intimate relationship between the camera and the actors, with close up shots to draw the audience in. With this style of filmmaking, we can live through the moments with Julia, Mindy, Jenna, and Steve, by getting close to the actors and staying with them.
I want the audience to feel that they really shouldn't be watching certain moments unfold, but that they can't look away. Stories that reveal ourselves to ourselves are stories worth telling.
Short films allow filmmakers to produce cinema quality films that tell stories a feature length doesn’t serve. Pretty Doesn’t Hurt is a perfect example of this - an eye-opening snapshot of one evening in a young girl’s life. We intend to reach as wide an audience possible with the film by maximizing the opportunities provided by film festivals and streaming on various platforms.
Our team intended to launch this fundraising campaign in March of 2020. We had just begun our prep - scouting locations, discussing tone, look and feel of the visual story and overnight it became clear to us that the world was going to take a major shift. We made the incredibly difficult decision of putting the production on hold. Within days, schools closed, friends, loved ones and members of our own team were laid off or furloughed, sick or afraid to get sick -- and we knew we had made the right decision. In the months following, we engaged in conversations about the inequities in our industry and have committed to a work environment for our production that ensures collective collaboration.
Late Summer and Fall of 2020 saw a return to production for the major Film and Television studios. Independent filmmakers have had a harder time getting back to work. This is mostly due to money. Covid safety increases budgets by 10-30 percent and that is a daunting number when you’re already stretching every dollar and favor available while juggling family, money gigs and side hustles. Many, including us, have waited, watched and listened. Through research and staying in conversation with our filmmaking community, we are now prepared to produce this film on a SAG-AFTRA contract, following all of the protocols for a Covid safe set as outlined in the document “The Safe Way Forward”.
When you join us and support our film however you can, you are backing a diverse team of artists who are ready to return to set.
The money raised will pay the salaries of our crew and transport them to and from set safely, allow us to rent out a restaurant location for 1 day of our shoot (both vitally important after months of unemployment/shutdowns due to Covid-19), enhance our production design, enable us to rent cinema quality camera equipment, and provide healthy meals for our cast and crew each day on set. Should Covid restictions delay our October 2021 shoot, all funds will remain in our production account and we will resume work as soon as it is safe to do so.
Liking and following us on Seed&Spark helps to unlock all sorts of amazing incentives and promoting our project on your social media helps build our audience. Both of these contibutions will go a long way for this production.
We cannot WAIT to get to work, and we invite you to help us tell this story the best way we can.
We are so grateful for you! Please stay tuned for updates to our film and fundraising endeavor!
Brooke, Keeley, David, Andy, Jenny, Jenna, & Jennifer
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About This Team
Brooke Berman is an award-winning playwright and filmmaker. Her script POLLY FREED, for which she is in development with Rebelle Media, recently won Best Screenplay at the Toronto Independent Film Festival. PF was developed through New York Stage and FIlm's Filmmaker's Lab and NYWIFT's From Script to Preproduction lab. Brooke wrote and directed the short film, UGGS FOR GAZA which premiered at the Aspen International ShortsFest where it won Audience Special Recognition award. UGGS also screened at Toronto Shorts Fest and Santa Fe Film Festival. ALL SAINTS DAY, a short film Brooke wrote, directed by Will Frears, won Best Narrative Short at the Savannah Film Festival and played at the Tribeca Film Festival. She adapted her play SMASHING for Natalie Portman and has written features for The Mark Gordon Company, Vox Films, Red Crown, and Fugitive Films.
Brooke's plays have been produced and developed across the US at theaters including: Steppenwolf, Soho Rep, Williamstown Theater Festival, Naked Angels, MCC, Primary Stages, The Humana Festival, and The Bay Area Playwrights Foundation. Internationally, her work has been developed at The Royal Court Theatre, The National Theatre Studio and Pentabus and produced at Red Stitch Theatre in Australia. Her play Hunting and Gathering was named to the Best of 2008 by New York Magazine.
She is also the author of three nonfiction books including the memoir, No Place Like Home, published by Random House. She has received numerous awards and grants for her plays and support from the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. She is a graduate of The Juilliard School and Barnard College and an alumna of New Dramatists.
Jennifer Rau’s directing projects include the PSA “Boys Will Be Better” for Savvy Studios and the pilot episode of the web series Nearly Human, currently in post-production. She began her career as an actor and was fortunate to work with award winning directors Peter Tolan, Andy Ackerman, Jamie Babbit, Jonathan Kaplan, Maggie Kiley, Jessica Goldberg and Chay Yew. Following their examples, Jennifer strives to create environments where creative artists can do their most fulfilled work and surprise themselves with their capacity to discover in the moment. Her Film and Television acting credits include: Finding Amanda, Brightest Star, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Without A Trace, yes,dear, Inconceivable, and the award-winning short film Some Boys Don’t Leave. Website: jenniferrau.com
She currently lives in NYC with her partner and their son. It is joy to be in collaboration with the creative team of Pretty Doesn't Hurt.
Director of Photography/Editor
David Siciliano is an award winning cinematographer and editor from Southern California. He has been lucky to work with some amazing creators on projects that have made their way through festivals, TV, and streaming platforms. Some career highlights include editing Interested In by Michael Witkes, which has been shown at the premier LGBTQ festivals in the country and has over 1 million views on YouTube; shooting and editing Nun Habits, by Monica Arsenault which has won international awards including best series; shooting and editing Flunkyball by Tess Forestieri, which recently won "Best of Fest" and "Outstanding Achievement in Editing" at Buck's County Festival; and editing Class starring the hilarious David Krumholtz. In the commercial space, David has worked with a wide range of brands on tv and web content from HBO to Budweiser to Habitat for Humanity to influencers and local business with companies like VaynerMedia and Fullscreen Media. He graduated from Syracuse University cum laude and is the founder of Savvy Studios. When not behind the camera or computer, you can find him in the mountains backpacking with his wife Jessica.
Jenna's recent film credits include the short film The Resistance, and feature thriller Nesting Dolls. Upcoming projects include: the web series Landing Home and short films Empty Nesters and Lighthouse Keeping. She also lends her voice to Cryptids: A Sci Fi Mystery Podcast. Recent theater includes: Proof at Hudson Stage and Black Tom Island at Premiere Stages. When not acting, she enjoys writing and playing piano. Visit her website at www.jennakrasowski.com for more info and updates!
Jenny is a mama, actor, VO artist, filmmaker, producer and creativity coach. An actor by trade, Jenny has also served as a producer/creator/consultant on several film and theater projects, including the Channel4More4 documentary 21 BELOW. Most recently, Jenny is one of the five female leads and consulting producer on the fiercely independent, female-driven feature STUCK/Amazon Prime. She embraces her yin for the development of new works and helping others and her yang for performing and making things happen. Selected NY Acting Credits: Jessica Goldberg’s Stuck, Michael’s Garces’ Acts of Mercy & Lucy Thurber’s Stay (Rattlestick Theater); Steve Earle’s Karla (Culture Project); Rose’s Dilemma, Wonder of the World (Stand by for Sarah Jessica Parker/Amy Sedaris) (Manhattan Theatre Club), Cavedweller (New York Theatre Workshop), dir. Michael Grief; Blue Before Morning, dir. Gia Forakis (Terra Nova Arts, DR2); Anon & New Works: Chance (Atlantic Theater Company), Live Girls (Urban Stages); Elvis People (New World Stages), dir. Henry Wishcamper; FILM: Stuck (dir. Jenni Tooley), The Cunny King (dir. Joyce Bartok), Fair Game (Dir. Doug Liman), The Girl In The Park (dir. David Auburn), The Baxter, The Regular, Reveille, The Stella Shorts. TELEVISION: Blue Bloods, Stella, Law & Order: SVU, That 70’s Show, Wainy Days. Learn more at JennyMaguireActor.com.
Andy Lucien is an artist and advocate originally from New York City, New York. He received both his bachelors and masters in theater. He has been featured in several tv shows including The Blacklist and Netflix’s Daredevil and has been a part of various theatrical productions all over the United States working at such venues as Lincoln Center Theater, Playwrights Horizons, The Rattlestick Theater, Berkley Rep, La Jolla Playhouse and Studio Theater. In addition to this he also took part in the Grahamstown Theater Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa. He is very excited to be working on Pretty Doesn’t Hurt. It’s such an amazing project with fantastic people dedicated to such fulfilling work.
Keeley’s television credits include Hunters with Amazon Studios, and young Pam Sinclair on The Evil Lives Here with the Discovery Channel. Most recently, Keeley wrote and starred in the short film Viceroy which won the “Award of Recognition” at the Best Shorts Competition in La Jolla, CA and the “Best Child Actor Award” at the Oniros Film Awards in Italy. She performed on the stage in productions of IRT’s The Technicians as Young Phoebe, and the new musical We Are Ameena, as June, at The New 42nd Street Studios. She has appeared with Pied Piper Children’s Theatre as Auntie Em in Wizard Of Oz; Mrs. Fezziwig in A Christmas Carol and Violet in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Keeley was a 2nd price Award Winner for her play Are You Coming? at the Elementary School Worldwide Plays Festival Competition in 2020.