Logline: A female veteran working as a mime in New York confronts personal demons, prejudices, and her own sense of guilt as she strives connect with a young Muslim neighbor.
Length: 10 minutes
Director: Damoon Parsa
Producer: Nicole McCormick
About the director and producer:
Damoon Parsa (director) — Born in Iran in 1986, Damoon studied film in Tehran before immigrating to the U.S. He is currently pursuing an MFA in Directing at Columbia University.
Nicole McCormick (producer) — Nicole worked as a Page at NBCUniversal and on the series The Americans before matriculating at Boston University, where she recently earned her Screenwriting MFA.
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): all of them!
Made in association with: Columbia University School of the Arts
Release date: currently being submitted to festivals. Release date not yet determined.
Congratulations! Why did you make YET HERE’S A SPOT?
Thank you! Yet Here’s a Spot originated as one of Damoon’s assignments—but our motivation goes beyond the classroom. For Damoon in particular (a newcomer to Manhattan), the ubiquitous street performers in New York provided the inspiration for telling a story about cultural and economic difference.
Once we thought up the idea of a female veteran, we both got really excited. We became incredibly passionate about making this movie about the experience of women in war, the maternal sense of loss some women experience. Even so, we wanted to make a movie that reveals the suffering most soldiers go through, and the new set of challenges soldiers face after leaving a combat zone.
So, we wanted to make a film that combines these two threads: cultural differences butting up against one another in New York, coupled with the psychological trauma of a returning veteran. We learned a lot while making this movie, and more than anything, we wanted to present these intricate, delicate issues in a new way.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Yet Here’s a Spot does not fit the traditional movie mold of “heroes” versus “villains.” Instead, it distills broad social and political questions to the personal level. We don’t seek to answer such questions, but by presenting several different angles to these issues, we hope to add nuance to the debate about America’s treatment of both immigrants and our own veterans.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
We tried to present both the American and the Middle Eastern perspectives on the Iraq War. Those on either side suffered immensely. Damoon grew up in Iran, so this was a very personal subject for him to explore, and he was able to infuse a lot of his own experience into the characters. Coupled with this, we also contemplated the patriotic ideal of America, and whether or not we can really live up to such an ideal.
On a universal level, Yet Here’s a Spot examines the idea of fear. Even if fear is based on false prejudices, the emotional distress can be far too real. We tried to show a person overcoming such immense fear.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
We started with the image of a Statue of Liberty mime in New York. We loved the ironic image of someone striving towards this paragon of America, but who deep down is alienated from society—partially because of our government’s social policies.
Besides this, the finished film shares few similarities with the first draft, which centered around a male immigrant working as a street performer. We incrementally adapted this character until we landed on Jori, our female veteran.
Through this process, we moved from a naturalistic story to a much more surreal and symbolic one, which we thought better underlined the themes of the story and our protagonist’s journey. As a director, Damoon became very interested in balancing subjectivity and objectivity in order to create a surreal effect on the viewer.
Another big change occurred after we decided to use our own apartment as the film’s primary location, which allowed us to live the protagonist’s life, and experience the space along with the actors in crew during rehearsals. The apartment itself became a critical part of the story.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
We have been very happily surprised with the positive feedback we’ve received!
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
We were surprised by how receptive our audiences have been. We know this sounds like we are just trying to compliment ourselves, but it’s true! Because of the film’s provocative subject matter, we worried that some people may take it personally. But viewers really sympathized with it, and responded to the huge psychological journey our protagonist goes through.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
We hope to bring as much awareness as possible to the strife many veterans go through after returning from war, whether or not they suffer as severe psychological trauma as Jori does. In America, veterans’ health services have been deplorably neglected. Equally important are the issues surrounding immigration and racism in America. Beyond amplifying the message within this story, we are also looking for future collaborators who are interested in making films about important contemporary issues.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We would be happy to work with anyone who would help bring the message of Yet Here’s A Spot to the fore! In particular, we are looking for distributors, buyers, and festival directors: we believe viewing this film is an experience, and we want as many people as possible to experience and think deeply about the issues we discuss.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
More than anything, we hope our viewers will contemplate the different facets of the complex issues we explore in Yet Here’s a Spot and come to their own conclusions about them. We want our film to start a heartfelt conversation about America’s role in world affairs—how we’ve fallen short of our goals, and how we can best fulfill our potential to do good.
Although we haven’t made any money off the film so far, any profits we do make will go to a charity supporting American war veterans.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
How do our past experiences crystallize into fears that hinder us in the present?
Would you like to add anything else?
From start to finish, this project was such a collaborative effort. We couldn’t have achieved even a modicum of success without our cast and crew. We’d like to thank our production designer Eric Unverzagt, our sound designer and composer Zeina Azouqah Bilgili, our lead actor Cherie Mendez, and the rest of our amazing cast and crew for the dedication to the project.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Damoon is in the process of adapting a beloved American short story into a short film he will direct. Since this will constitute his MFA thesis film, he is also raising money to have a higher production value on this project. Nicole has just earned her masters degree, and is working on a feature-length screenplay that further explores her interest in the human response to psychological pain and trauma.