There was something Windy City Times’ film critic Richard Knight, Jr. had never seen before in Thomas Bezucha’s 2005 holiday comedy The Family Stone.
“This was the first movie that I could recall that not only featured gay characters as central to the holiday family traditions celebrated in the film, but also seamlessly integrated them,” says Knight.
Gratified, but not satisfied, Knight set out to take Bezucha’s milestone a step further. “When it was over I wanted to see an entire movie viewed from our perspective,” Knight says. “But there was none to be found.”
Knight settled on A Christmas Carol as ideal source material, and with Annoyance Theatre cofounder Ellen Stoneking and the late Tim Imse, Knight wrote Scrooge & Marley, a modern, gay retelling of the Dickens novella. “At last, there will be a holiday movie that gay people can call their own,” Knight says, “something that we can return to year after year.”
Knight is directing Scrooge & Marley this May with DP/editor Peter Neville, with whom he created the web talk show Movie Queens, whose guests included Viggo Mortensen, Bruce Vilanch, Debbie Reynolds, Tippi Hedren.
“We have worked together since the early 1990s when we met at the nightclub Kaboom! where I was the promotions manager and Peter was the videographer,” Knight says. “We both also really spark to new ideas when we’re around each other and each of us is a great sounding board for the other.”
Scrooge & Marley features Megan Cavanagh (A League of Their Own), Rusty Schwimmer (The Informant!), Ronnie Kroell (Make Me a Supermodel), and singer Becca Kaufman. Heather Schmucker oversees March casting for remaining roles.
Hannah Free producer and Windy City Times publisher Tracy Baim is executive producer along with David Strzepek (Foodgasm). Knight, Neville, Stoneking, Kroell and Foodgasm creator Etta Worthington are coproducing. Thavary Krouch is line producer. Prospective crew can email Baim.
They’re aiming to wrap before the G8/NATO summits begin May 19 and protests threaten to derail production logistics. It’s an ambitious undertaking for the scale of the production, with cabaret numbers, ‘70s flashbacks, and seasonal changes.
Annoyance musical director Lisa McQueen is writing the score and original songs
They’re operating under the SAG Ulta Low Budget Agreement, which covers films made for under $200,000. They’re raising the budget from private investors and an IndieGoGo campaign.