Olympia Dukakis & Rose Gregorio are “Irene & Marie”

Source: Alex Thompson

Olympia Dukakis and Rose Gregorio play Greek-American women in their 70s who create stories to avoid the realities of growing older.

All donations are tax-deductible through the Greek America Foundation.

I wrote this script for my grandmother on the plane back from my study abroad in Prague. “Irene & Marie”. I thought she and her friend Irene were hilarious.

They’d told me so many stories! Write what you know? Well, I’ll write what my Yiayia knows.

However, she refused to act in it. “First of all,” she said, “I’m not an actor,” (though she is certainly a seasoned performer) “second,” she continued, “this is all too embarrassing.

You can’t tell people about this! I’ll lose all my friends!”

I began work as a casting director’s assistant. With access to many important phone numbers, I sent the script on a whim to Olympia Dukakis’ manager, Gene Parseghian.

I told a friend and prospective producer what I’d done and he told me I was crazy, an amateur – “who wants to work with a self-professed amateur?” he said.

“I know Olympia is Greek, but is her manager Greek?” No, I said. “Well, what does your Yiayia matter to Olympia Dukakis’ manager?” Nothing, I supposed. I was crushed.

Two days later I received word from Gene’s office that Olympia had expressed interest in the project. “Keep us updated on the production.” I cried at my desk and cheered.

We had Olympia. On her suggestion I sent the script to Rose Gregorio, who has signed on as well.

I spoke with Greg Pappas, founder of the Greek America Foundation and his interest in the project went so far as to guaranteeing it a Hollywood premiere.

His creative input and interest were invigorating. I could do this!

Next, Roberta Munroe signed on; a seasoned producer of short films and past shorts programmer for the Sundance film festival, Roberta literally wrote the book on producing short films.

It’s called “How Not to Make a Short Film.” I read it and called. We had a producer.

As both Olympia and Rose are New York based, and the production value of New York in December is unmistakable, we decided to shoot in NY with a NY-based crew. Our start date is set for November 29.

Now, we need funding to make sure we keep Olympia and Rose and this glorious project on track for that November start date. Our estimated budget is $50,000.

That will encompass talent, assistant directors, a cinematographer, camera, sound and lighting equipment, location permits, production managers and production coordinators as well as a full New York crew.

Depending on your contribution, you may receive a variety of rewards including tickets to the Hollywood premiere on May 24th, 2013 and with a financial donation of $5,000 or more an invitation to the set during shoot days and a role as an extra in the opening church scene.

And here we are. In roughly fifteen pages we hope to tell a story people will be talking about long after they leave the theater.

I personally appreciate anything and everything you can do to help us, this motley crew of experience and green.

This is the type of dream project directors wait decades to work up to. With your help this dream is going to become a reality; and then, on screen, a dream again.

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