Filmed entirely in Pine Plains, this new short comedy film tells the story of Priscilla Cranberry, who attempts to navigate the challenging romantic landscape of being a single woman in the Victorian era. This pre-feminist fable is based on the stand-up comedy of Cynthia Levin and marks the first project by Staro Industries, the creative studio founded in 2022 by producer/director Patrick Trettenero.
Produced and directed by Patrick Trettenero
Written by Cynthia Levin & Kate Roxburgh
Starring Cynthia Levin & Shecky Beagleman
Interview with Patrick Trettenero
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background
I’ve been working in the entertainment industry for 40 years, the first chapter of which was in theater in Chicago as well as all over the world. I moved to New York in 1996 to direct an off broadway show and ended up staying. I spent another five years working in theater and then kind of fell into a TV career. I spent 20 years at NBCUniversal where I worked on branded content and live events, among other things. By the time I left there I was running an advertising agency within the cable group on networks such as USA, Syfy, CNBC and others. Essentially I got to make cool stuff with other people’s money which was wonderful.
As the traditional TV model started to decline and budgets shrank I found myself back where I was when I first started in theater in terms of just trying to be as ingenious and creative with limited resources as I could possibly be. One of my mentors who passed away recently, Frank Galati, was a giant in the theater world. I’ll never forget what he said to me back in the 1980s, which was that starting out is the golden era, and to just enjoy it, because you will make the most incredible art when your resources are limited. Later on people will throw money at you to do what they want you to do.
Fast forward to 2022 and The Relentless Patience of Priscilla Cranberry, I was the entire crew – directing, shooting, and producing, and somehow we pulled it off. We shot the whole thing over two days in July. I didn’t realize the audacity of what we were trying to do when we first started, but then in hindsight I couldn’t believe we actually pulled it off.
Why did you decide to found Staro Industries?
Working in a variety of mediums, from film to TV to theater, I formed this LLC primarily to organize my finances, but it was also an opportunity to put my creative stake in the ground and say ok, I’m going to brand my creative effort, make a living out of it, and run it through this business.
I called it Staro because that is the name of the village in Italy that my family’s name came from. I’m a genealogy buff and I like names to have meaning.
How do you know Cynthia Levin and Kate Roxburgh?
Cynthia and I took an acting class together in 1986 and have been friends ever since. She lived in New York for a while as well as London, which is where Kate lives. She spent a long time in LA and moved back to New York a year ago.
The film is based on a bit Cynthia has been doing in her standup act for 20 years where she talks about the trials and travails of being a single woman. Her take is that at least in modern day you get an immediate thumbs up or thumbs down through whatever app you’re using, but can you imagine how hard it was in Victorian times where you had to write a letter and wait? In the film the main character meets a man at a ball and they exchange glances, she writes him a letter and waits for a reply. Years go by for a reply that never comes, and she ends up waiting her whole life for him to write her back.
Over the past two decades I had been saying to her that we have to make a film of this, and when she moved back to New York I said now is the time. But then she had to convert this standup comedy bit to a script so she enlisted her friend Kate to help. Originally Kate was going to play the maid Claire but the timing didn’t work out so we hired another comedian to do it – Shecky Beagleman.
We knew Shecky was ill when we were shooting, and it took a lot out of her. She passed away at Christmastime of cancer. Once we lost Shecky I went into a higher gear of commitment to getting this project out. Shecky is wonderful in the film, and we dedicated it to her. Quite a few people are coming up from the city to celebrate Shecky as well as the film. She was a gem, a total original human being and hilarious. I’m proud of her performance and I know wherever she is, she is proud as well.
What initially interested you in this project?
I have been a fan of my friend Cynthia for so long. She is not just a great stand up comedian, she is also an amazing actress, so good that she teaches acting. I directed a play in Los Angeles 25 years ago and I was struggling with my cast because they weren’t listening to each other. I called Cynthia and asked her to teach some acting classes to the cast. She really got a hold of the cast, brought them together and just did wonders with them.
Cynthia is hilarious and gifted, with a unique point of view and I wanted to show the world how great she is. She deserved to have her work produced. So this was a chance to showcase Cynthia and capture the story that she wanted to tell. That was my goal.
Can you tell us a little about the plot of the film?
I describe it as a pre-feminist fable. It’s about a single woman operating under the assumption that her life will be whole if she can just find a man. It’s a film about waiting, but it’s also a film that explores how you constantly seek to improve yourself and make yourself happy while you are waiting for the love of your life.
Why did you choose Pine Plains as the filming location?
Because we have a home in Pine Plains and we are fortunate to be friends with the couple that own The Pines, Jorge and Eileen Yajure. About 4 years ago we had a family reunion at The Pines and I spent a lot of time there. It’s a meticulously restored Victorian mansion that is also impeccably furnished with Victorian furniture. I couldn’t imagine a better place to film. And how nice of my friends who own it, that they let us film there for free.
The Relentless Patience of Priscilla Cranberry will be showing at The Stissing Center in Pine Plains, NY on Sunday, February 26 at 3pm. The film runs ½ hour and is followed by a question and answer session. Cranberry muffins will be served in honor of Priscilla Cranberry.
Watch the trailer here: trailer
Link to buy tickets: purchase
This film is dedicated to the loving memory of Shecky Beagleman