Ponyboi is an intersex runaway. He works at laundromat and hustles as sex-worker. But after a mysterious encounter with a man from his dreams, he learns that perhaps he is worthy of leaving his seedy life in New Jersey behind. Ponyboi is a queer film about discovering self-redemption and love.
100 Days of Optimism
Inclusion StatementPonyboi showcases an underrepresented narrative of a socially and financially disenfranchised intersex, Latino youth searching for his place in the world. Behind the camera, this team is lead by an incredibly talented and diverse group of female, LGBTQIA artists of color.
About The Project
After running away from home, Ponyboi (a disarming and troubled high school drop out) now works at Bubble-Land Laundromat-- a grungy 24-hour establishment on the wrong side of town. To make ends meet he hustles as a sex-worker within the laundromat, working with Vinny (his manager, pimp, and Eminem-wannabe) and Angel (Vinny's glamour-trash girlfriend).
Ponyboi is your typical Jersey boy; he loves Bruce Springsteen, the Jersey shore, and a well-rolled blunt. And like all Jersey boys, Ponyboi dreams of escaping this suburban hell. However, he believes his only way out is by meeting his Prince Charming.
On a lonely Valentine's day night , Ponyboi's life changes when a debonaire cowboy named Bruce, (whom he's dreamed of) stops by the laundromat. It's love at first sight. Through this enchanting encounter with the man of his dreams, Ponyboi discovers that perhaps he is worthy of breaking free from his painful past and leaving his dead-end life behind.
Visuals & Tone
The visual design for the film is aimed to capture the dream-like and fantastical lens in which Ponyboi sees his world— a perspective derived from the drugs he and the people in this world abuse. Ponyboi lives in a gritty, neon lit, deboucherous highway heaven of New Jersey. An intoxicatingly trashy yet marvelously kitschy, smog-filled dump.
We intend to hybridize the mediums of cinema and visual art, to create a world that is visually rich and unique. We aim to do this by collaborating with both fillmmakers and visual artists, combining techniques from both crafts, such as projection mapping and practical effects, to create a dynamic sensorial expression.
We would like to shoot on an ARRI Alexa Mini with vintage lenses to capture the imperfection and hazy atmosphere that Ponyboi is trapped in. In terms of light and color, we want to showcase the duality of Ponyboi's world by incoporating grim green tones and fluroescent overhead lights, as well as colorful magentas and fantastic neon lights.
Production Design/ Costuming
Set in contemporary time, we would like to incorporate hints of retro, 50s, doo-wop aesthetic to in production design and costume in order to express a haunting sense of world void of time—a paralyzed Americana.
Be the Change
Statistically, 1 in every 1500 people are born intersex; however
there is next to no visibility in films or popular culture to date.
The shame imposed on intersex children means many are
forced to keep their true identity a dark secret. Ponyboi will be
making history as the first film directed by and starring an out
Furthermore, less than 5% of major filmmakers are women and
only 7% of films each year have a cast and crew whose balance
of race, ethnicity and gender reflect the country's diversity.
There is an epidemic of invisibility in the film industry. Our
crew is comprised of solely women and LGBTQIA members,
with women leading all heads of departments above-the-line.
Please support this film and be the change.
Making Ponyboi has been the most anxiety-provoking film I've undertaken. For the first time, I've felt compelled to open up about my personal experience of my sexuality growing up in New Jersey that inspired me to tell this story. Ponyboi is a film whose origins rest in painful memories that have weighed down me for years, and it is my dream for this film to promote healing and love to audiences who see it.
I am intersex. Intersex a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. For me it means that I was born without testicles. They never developed. Through out my childhood, I saw countless doctors, all whom examined and evaluated my body. I grew up feeling like I was always on display for others and it made me sad, angry, confused but mostly powerless. When I was 12 in the midst of seeing numerous specialists, a doctor sexually molested me. For year I’ve kept being intersex and the incident of abuse a secret. It has caused me deep shame and anguish as a teen and even now as an adult.
I am making this film out desire to empower people to come to terms with their pasts, their secrets, their self-preceived shame. The stuff that haunts us, limits our perception of our worth, and our ability to love ourselves and others. In the film, Ponyboi—a poor, Latinx, intersex person—musters up the courage to pull himself out of a rut filled abuse, addiction, and manipulation. By accepting and forgiving his flawed past he breaks through the self-imposed chains that have bonded him to a self-destructive life. He discovers that he is deserving of the love of his dreams and makes the first step towards a better future. I, just like Ponyboi, have decided to make those uncertain steps forward, by owning my truth, owning my body and making an unapologetic film. I wish to portray a beautiful queer character that audiences will see themselves in—a character who at long last is taking back the power in his life. I believe now more than ever stories that grapple with love, sexuality, and empowerment, are vital to our culture. Thank you so much, and I hope you support our film.
Launch Seed & Spark Fundraising Campaign
Begin scouting locations & finalizing design boards
Finalize casting & rehearse
Finalize and scout locations
Logistics for production
Hard prep begins:
Production of Ponyboi: April 19th-28th
May - July 2018
Offline picture edit
July - Aug 2018
Color correction, sound design, music, and graphics
Aug- Sep 2018
Begin festival submissions
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About This Team
Our team is made up of an incredibly talented group of Black, Latino, LGBTQIA, and female filmmakers and artists.
River Alexander Gallo (Writer/Director/Actor) is multi-media performer and writer/director. He received his BFA in Drama from NYU's Tisch School of Arts Experimental Theatre Wing and is currently pursuing is MFA in Film & TV Production at USC's School of Cinematic Arts. He is the recipient of the Hispanic Scholarship Foundation's fellowship for his work in representing Latinx voices in film. Recently his short film "Morgan in Maywood" premiered at the Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival and received the "Best LGBT Film" award at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival. River's work explores the dynamics of personal and confessionary storytelling. He is interested in media's healing abilities through re-envisioning minority--specifically black and brown, LGBTQIA, and female-- narratives. You can find him perform around Los Angeles with his Queer improv comedy team "Link In Bio".
Sadé Clacken Joseph (Co-Director/ Producer) is a Caribbean-American filmmaker, photographer and singer-songwriter from the Bronx, NY. Sadé began making short films and writing songs on piano in high school, and has been in love with telling stories ever since. After graduating with a degree in Anthropology from Columbia University in 2011, she joined the production team for the ABC talkshow The View. After four years on the show, and freelancing as a documentarian, she was accepted into USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles where she is currently getting her MFA in Directing.Sadé is dedicated to shining a light on underrepresented groups, particularly people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQIA community. Most recently, Sade directed her thesis film Hats (2018) through USC's most competitive and advanced program. She is one in only a handful of black women to be selected for this accomplishment in the program's history. In 2016, she was hand-picked to be the Director's Guild of America John Frankenheimer Fellow, a prestigious DGA award given to one film student each year. She is the recipient of Inaugural 30 Under 30 Caribbean-American Emerging Leader and Change Maker Award for which she was honored at the White House.
Stephen Fry (Executive Producer) is a leading light in film, theatre, radio and television the world over, receiving accolades in spades and plaudits by the shovel. As a writer, producer, director, actor and presenter he has been featured in works as varied and adored as his Golden-globe nominated performance in 'Wilde', the TV series 'Blackadder' and 'Jeeves and Wooster', the sketch show 'A Bit of Fry and Laurie', the panel game 'QI', the radio series 'Fry's English Delight', Shakespeare's Globe's celebrated 2012 production of 'Twelfth Night' (as Malvolio) and documentaries on countless subjects very close to his heart. In his latest book"Mythos" he retells the greatest myths and legends ever told, exposing human truths, as well as unearths the origins of the destruction of art and oppression of nonbinary, intersex and trans people by the Roman Empire.
Erica Rose (Producer) is a Brooklyn based writer, director, and producer working in narrative, commercial, documentary, and music video mediums. She was the associate producer on the Netflix original documentary Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold. She has produced films for the CFDA + Weinstein Co, featuring prominent American designers such as Michael Kors, Vera Wang, and Diane Von Furstenburg. She has worked as an associate producer with Beyonce Knowles’ Parkwood Entertainment for a narrative & documentary series centered on female empowerment. She has directed and/or produced commercials for Earth Angel, celebrity trainer Terri Walsh, Local Maven, UN HE for SHE Campaign, Vevo, and MasterCard. She directed a commercial for the TCS New York City Marathon App, which received a national broadcast. She has worked alongside producer Amy Kaufman for televisions shows including NBC’s American Odyssey, CBS’ For Justice, and Showtime’s Billions. Her music videos that she has directed and produced have been featured in various publications including The Huffington Post, Northern Transmissions, Broadway World, M Pire Magazine, and The Big Takeover. Her short film, Absolute Threshold, took home honors at The New York Film Festival of New Cinema and The Brooklyn Shorts Film Festival.
Website: https://www. sourpeachfilms.com /
Julia Kennelly (Producer) is a film producer and director. She is a co-founder of New York-based production company Dream City, alongside producer Karine Benzaria and director/cinematographer Daisy Zhou. Julia works primarily as a producer of both narrative and branded work; she has worked for Archer Gray, Juniper Jones, Public Record, KYLE nyc and Pick Pictures, among others. She has a passion for narrative film, and is deeply committed to telling stories about people who are not often visible in the mainstream media.
Kristen Laffey (Producer) Kristen is a producer based in LA. She writes and produces sketch comedy and digital content for YouTube's top creators. Kristen specializes in queer stories and aims to expand the LGBT genre beyond its current limitations. Most recently she was featured in Huffington Post and USA Today for the #metoo PSA she produced. Recent credits include: Vice, iisuperwomanii, Fullscreen, Comedy Central, Playboy TV, Brat TV.
Madeline Leach (Cinematographer) is from Boston, MA in her last year at USC in the MFA program for Film and TV Production. She studied photography from middle school through college which gives her a unique eye for cinematography. In 2017, the short advanced USC film,The Craftsman, which she was a co-cinematographer for, was nominated in the Camerimage Festival for the Student Etudes Competition. She is also the recipient of the Sun Cinematography Award for female cinematographers at USC.
Alexah Acuña (Production Designer) Alexah is an artist and designer based in Los Angeles, California. A recent graduate of the USC Roski School of Fine Art with an emphasis in sculpture and performance, Acuña explores identity politics (particularly those of Latina females like herself) and the intersections between high and low art. Acuña is fascinated by material culture. Working three years as a freelance production designer for film and tv, she gained an appreciation for formal elements of pop culture and design in relation to socio-economic class, race, and gender. Acuña believes in art that is non-exclusive and non-binary, breaking away from gallery contexts and segregated mediums. Acuña's practice involves improvisational narration through non-traditionally merged forms such as relational aesthetics, performance, culinary, poetics, and sculpture. Above all, Acuña hopes to entertain, while calling the audience to action.
Dina Graham (1st AD) is an award winning filmmaker and New York Native. After moving to London in 2015 to work as a Content Producer for BBC's Radio 1 Live Lounge, she produced and directing various programs for the company's lineup. Returning to America in 2016, she started working primarily as a 1st Assistant Director between film, television, and commercial mediums. Dina is a credited 1st Assistant Director in for over 50 short films, 30 commercials for various brands such as NIKE, Addidas, Audi and Sensodyn, 10 high budget music videos with celebrities such as Fletcher and Mike Posner, and one tier 3 one feature film. Her day job is currently CEO Creative at Grahamcracker Media Co., a production company specializing in advertising brand content through commercial media.
Eugene Noone (Editor) Eugene Noone is a writer, teacher, and filmmaker. Born outside of Washington DC, he grew up in central Pennsylvania. He has a BA in English from the University of Notre Dame; an MA in Creative Writing Prose Fiction from the University of East Anglia; and an MA in Teaching from the Relay Graduate School of Education. For 4 years, he taught English and theater for NYC public schools. He has also taught at the China University of Geosciences in Beijing and Ghetto Film School in Los Angeles. He lives in LA and is now pursuing an MFA in Film & TV Production at USC's School of Cinematic Arts.
Gigi Hernandez (Costume Design) is super excited to be wardrobe designing pony boi. it will be her fourth project working with river gallo, whose dirty americana aesthetic speaks to her very soul. gigi has been costume designing for stage and film since the beginning of her time at NYU in 2011. she lives and works in brooklyn new york but she’ll always be a cali girl.
Torie Zalben (Dream Sequence Art Consultant) Torie is a photographer, performer and writer. She received her BA in Film & TV from Loyola Marymount University and her MA from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study in Video Art & Media. She is a nominee of this year’s Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist Grant Award and has displayed her works across America. Her artistic style explores states of meditative awareness and altered consciousness. You can view her works: www.toriezalben.com IG @TorieZalben
PROM (Music) PROM is the dream-pop collaboration of Ella Zoller and Gabriel Stanley based out of Brooklyn, NY. Their debut LP Holding Pattern dropped August 2016. PROM describes their music as pop forward with a dark slant that focuses on lower frequencies, hypnotic harmonies, and sparkles.
Austin Conway (Sound Mixing)