New York City is getting a taste of Dallas talent on December 18 when Cry, the debut feature film from local writer-director Clay Luther, screens during the internationally recognized NewFilmmakers Series at Anthology Film Archives on the Lower East Side.
Cry tells the story of a bullied teenager (Carson, played by Skyy Moore) and a lonely elderly man (Cable, played by Bill Flynn) who eventually find solace in their unlikely friendship. It was also an official selection at the 2013 Dallas International Film Festival and Red Dirt International Film Festival.
For up-and-coming filmmakers, getting accepted into the New York program is an important step toward national recognition.
“Certainly I think we haven’t even scratched the surface on what we’re able to accomplish in Dallas,” says writer-director Clay Luther.
“They really like to get your first three films,” Luther says. “Once you’re accepted, you’re in the club. After they have those first three films, they’ll do a small retrospective on the director.”
Luther says an important goal for him in making Cry was to showcase the array of talent that exists here, so the majority of the cast and crew are Dallas-area natives.
“That will be something we’ll talk about at the screening. Hopefully someone will ask where we made the film. Then they’ll be this huge gasp when we say Dallas, like, how is that even possible?” Luther says, laughing.
“Certainly I think we haven’t even scratched the surface on what we’re able to accomplish in Dallas. It’s frustrating because ... a lot of our talent and behind-the-scenes crew think they must go to one of the coasts to be successful. I just don’t believe that’s true anymore. The idea is to hopefully build talent locally that will then have a national appeal.”
Among this local talent is Flynn and 22-year-old up-and-comer Moore, in his feature debut. Since filming Cry, some cast members have made the move to Los Angeles — including Cherami Leigh, who plays Carson’s love interest, Grace, and is set to star in the upcoming season of the Showtime series Shameless — but Moore doesn’t think it’s a requisite for success.
“In this day and age, you can live anywhere and be successful as an actor,” Moore says. “It’s all in your head. On almost every set I’ve been on, I’ve talked to actors from LA who were planning to move away from LA. Your life’s going to be whatever you make of it.”
According to producer Erin Nicole Parisi, the talent on set ranged from newcomers in their first feature to veterans like longtime cinematographer James Burgess, who captured scenes from the Trinity River, Greenville Avenue and the halls of Episcopal School of Dallas.
“We would have been lost without him Burgess,” Parisi says. “He said he felt his work in Cry was some of the most beautiful imagery he’d ever captured on film, so that was cool for us, because he’s been in this industry for a long time.”
Parisi says they also made a point to include local music talent. “I think that’s another way Dallas gets forgotten,” she says.
Cry’s composer, Michael Boss, grew up in Oak Cliff and returned to Dallas after attending Berklee College of Music. The film’s soundtrack features songs from local musicians Luke Wade and No Civilians (“Changes”), The Roomsounds (“Barn Burner), Joe Hamilton (“Sunny Days”), and Dave Zoller (“Blue Note ca. ’65”).
“We’re excited about going to New York, and to have the opportunity to get the film in front of some people who are tastemakers for us,” Luther says. “It’s a little nerve-racking, because you’re putting it in front of people who could make or break you, and you have no idea which way it’s going to go.
“Good or bad, the hope is that once the film has ended, people will keep talking about it. To have people in the film and participating for even a moment after the lights come up is a win.”