THIS IS HAPPENING
When I was 27, my father informed me that my seventy-five year-old grandmother, who’d survived cancer twice in the early 1980s, was sick once again. The circumstances surrounding her illness were unique: the radiation used to prolong her life twenty years prior had returned to poison her blood. Nothing short of a bone marrow transplant would save her life this time, but her age and health prevented that from being considered a viable option. Therefore, she would have a series of blood transfusions that would keep her rather healthy for a short period of time, until they simply wouldn’t any longer.
It was during this time that my dad suggested my brother and I visit my grandmother in Palm Beach, Florida for ten days – the last ten days we’d ever see her. I wish I could say I looked forward to this bonding, this chance to say goodbye, but my grandmother wasn’t exactly the nurturing caregiver we all hope for in a grandma. She was a little cold, a little self absorbed, completely incapable of saying the words, “I love you.” Truth be told, despite knowing her my entire life, I didn’t really know her very much at all. And now I had to spend ten days entertaining her with a brother I might have known even less. To say my brother and I were opposites was an understatement. We spent plenty of time arguing over which one of us was adopted; the results remain inconclusive. Where I attempted to play the role of responsible older child, my brother embraced pot- smoking ne’er-do-well with equal passion. And now the two of us had to make this Florida trip together.
The essence of that trip became the subject of a short story titled “Sweat.” I never considered it a movie until a friend read it and demanded I turn it into a screenplay. Luckily, I listened. I expanded the short story and traded my brother for a sister. Where the short story was limited to our time in Florida, the movie moves out of my grandmother’s retirement community (now set in Palm Springs) to the open road, where estranged brother and sister must track down their grandmother as she flees. The result is a movie about finding your family in order to find yourself. Making this movie was by far the most fulfilling experience of my life. We shot the film in eleven days for very little money and we did it because we loved it. It was made in true independent spirit and now we are following through the same way with our distribution – by doing it ourselves. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
At the behest of his manipulative father, STEVEN (Judd Nelson), PHILIP DAVIS (James Wolk) travels to Palm Springs to place his ornery, octogenarian grandmother, ESTELLE (Cloris Leachman), into a home. Philip’s small-time pot dealing sister, MEGAN (Mickey Sumner), catches wind of the trip and decides to tag along under the guise of familial support. In truth, she’s got a connection in Palm Springs who’s going to hook her up with five pounds of high quality weed, which she plans to unload when she returns to Los Angeles.
Philip and Meagan have a strained relationship to begin with and no desire to spend any more time together than they must. It doesn’t take long after arriving in Palm Springs that Estelle, with whom the grandchildren barely have any relationship at all, sends Philip to a pharmacy to retrieve her pain medication. While Philip gets lost on the way, Megan decides to get Estelle stoned to alleviate her woes. After Estelle gets high and develops the munchies, she decides to drive to her favorite restaurant. She promptly runs over her neighbor, CAL PLOTZ (Rene Auberjonois) and is immediately arrested.
The next day, Philip and Megan wake up to discover their grandmother gone—she’s fled to Seattle with her taxidermied best friend, a shitzu named Ralph. Little does Estelle know that Megan’s drug buy is wedged in her trunk. Determined to track down her missing pot, Megan convinces her brother that they must go after Estelle before she gets herself into trouble. What ensues is a road trip where Estelle simply tries to survive, while her grandchildren struggle to keep from killing each other. Despite their best efforts to sabotage each other, Philip and Megan eventually find Estelle and guide her to the place she’s been trying to reach all along: reconciliation with her grandchildren and hope for their family in the future.
The whole point of this campaign is to release THIS IS HAPPENING, through Seed & Spark as our distrihutor, into theaters across the country. We will then release on cable and streaming, but this is a chance to show the world our movie on the big screen. We have tested the film for an audience at the Sarasota Film Festival and the results were so outstanding that we knew we had to get this movie into theaters. If you’re out there, you will get a chance to see this movie.