The Call Sheet

The Call Sheet

THE PARTY CONTINUES: Stephen Cone’s latest feature HENRY GAMBLE’S BIRTHDAY PARTY heads into its final six days of shooting this week. The drama stars a rich ensemble of Chicago’s best, including Kelly O’Sullivan, a regular on the recently renewed Denis Leary comedy SIRENS, Elizabeth Laidlaw (BOSS, CRISIS) and Steppenwolf ensemble member Francis Guinan as well as Chicago native Tyler Ross, who stars in the new Netflix season of THE KILLING.

In a recent chat with Cone, I asked him what separates this film from his work in the critically acclaimed THE WISE KIDS and BLACK BOX: "Well, clearly I wasn't ready to leave evangelical middle America behind just yet. THE WISE KIDS was semi-autobiographical, but it also had a certain sprawl to it, and was spread out over a community. I think with BIRTHDAY PARTY I not only wanted to tell the story of a whole family for the very first time, but also to look even more microscopically at similar themes, probing deeper into the realms of sex, intimacy, family and faith. Setting it entirely at one birthday party seemed a nice way to do that, and also brings its own stylistic challenges, which will hopefully allow for a new visual boldness.”

Become a fan of HENRY GAMBLE’S BIRTHDAY PARTY on facebook at

THE VIEW FROM TALL EYES FALL: Co-directors Caitlin Parrish and Erica Weiss and producer Amanda Pflieger (fresh off the SXSW success of ANIMALS) are currently in pre-production for their upcoming collaboration THE VIEW FROM TALL, set to film this October/November.

The film is an adaptation of the play written by Parrish that enjoyed a successful off-Broadway run ten years ago. “I wrote the play after graduating from high school," Parrish commented. "It was a deeply personal and angry story about a statutory rape victim being blamed for what happened to her, which isn't exactly chucklefest material, but it went on to win the National Young Playwright's Award before receiving an Off-Broadway run. That recognition was the first sign I'd received, as a teenager, that my voice had validity. It was immensely healing, and set me on my path. Today, in light of how pervasive slut shaming and bullying seem to be, I want to be the person telling teenage girls that their voices matter, that their stories are important, and that they have worth, no matter what anyone else says.”

Prior to this film production, Parrish and Weiss were primarily collaborators on the stage, which included Weiss directing the Parrish play A TWIST OF WATER for Route 66 Theatre Company, garnering rave reviews and a Joseph Jefferson nomination for Best New Work. Weiss added, “Caitlin and I have been working as a creative team for the better part of the last ten years. So in many ways this project is about a decade in the making, our first venture from theatre into filmmaking.”

Parrish, Weiss and Pflieger have some talented Chicago actors set in their leading roles, with Amanda Drinkall (The Goodman Theater's recent VENUS IN FUR) and Michael Patrick Thornton (ABC's PRIVATE PRACTICE, THE DILEMMA) on board. I’ll keep you posted on this one as we head into the fall!

CURRENTLY IN THEATERS: One of the best ways to support Midwest-made productions is to pay money to go see em! The Ebert doc LIFE ITSELF, from the inimitable Steve James and Kartemquin Films, is currently in theaters and available on demand for you to watch this minute, click here to do that. Joe Swanberg’s latest HAPPY CHRISTMAS just opened at the Music Box, click here for trailer and tix!

Mike McNamara is the Co-Founder of The Midwest Independent Film Festival, Mike pays his rent as an actor in Chicago in theatre, commercials, television and film. More from Mac at