Hamish Downie’s Five Questions With Tony Clemente Jr

Editor Note: Hamish has another in his series of Five Questions With…

Hamish came up with this idea because he was accumulating too much material for his Famous News Sushi column and asked if he could do these mini-interviews. Why would we say no?

Thank you Hamish for being such a trooper for us. We really appreciate all for your hard work.

Let us know what you think of these interviews in the comments below.


 

 
TGG: Could you please introduce yourselves to our readers?

TC: Hi, I’m Tony Clemente Jr. I’m a writer of screenplays and unpublished novels, director of short films, and an indie filmmaker based in NYC. When I’m not writing or obsessively watching TV, I’m an editor, producer, script supervisor, and assistant director. I’m also a script reader for film festivals, and I’ve recently taken up film photography! I love the melodrama. Both as a filmmaker and an audience member, I want to watch young people in sexy lighting screaming at
each other about their feelings. You can check out my site for more, tccinemas.com, and find me @tccinemas on the socials.

TGG: Can you tell us about your first short, “Hopelessly?”

TC: “Hopelessly” is this cute little movie I made with friends, with basically no money, equipment, or gear. Hopelessly was an experiment to see if I could capture the way I see the world. Whenever I direct, my DPs and producers and my crew always tell me how specific my ideas are, how off-beat my vision is. I wanted to see if I could translate the weird ideas in my head into something universal, something others could watch and appreciate. I was utterly blown away by the film’s reception. To play in a dozen festivals worldwide, win awards, and land on streaming sites like HereTV and Amazon Prime! We had no idea it would go so far. I was lucky to find a group of actors who really connected with the script, and contributed so much of themselves. We didn’t have a ton of time to shoot, but in that small window we connected so deeply, so quickly, and I still work with most of them today.

HOPELESSLY THE TRAILER
from Tony Clemente Jr on
Vimeo.

“Hopelessly” follows Darren, who’s just looking for love. When neither his girlfriend nor his boyfriend have time for him, Darren goes on a quest for connection. I relate so much to Darren. He’s so afraid of being confined, being limited in life. I’m bisexual and while I can’t speak to every bisexual person’s experience, I always fear limitation. There are so many flavors in the world and I want to try them all! The film is silent, and doesn’t actually say any of this in words, but it translates visually. I love the physical aspect of romance and comedy, what our bodies reveal with no words. By stripping away dialogue, you only get to focus on the physicality, the affect, and it shows you so much more. I’m fascinated by the space between people, especially lovers, and we really explored that in this film. It’s funny to look back, since now we can’t really go outside and touch people. I miss the warm beauty we captured here, and I think now’s the perfect time to revisit. You can watch the film on several streaming sites here:

https://linktr.ee/hopelesslyfilm

website: https://www.tccinemas.com/hopelessly

TGG: I’ve been seeing “How to Fold a Fitted Sheet” getting a great reaction on LesFlicksVOD. Can you tell us about that short, and I have to ask, how DO you fold a fitted sheet?

TC: It’s absolutely hilarious to me that I still don’t know how to fold a fitted sheet. Cosmic irony! I do, however, recommend you watch our film if you’re curious, because our lead star, May Kelly, offers quite the creative solution. How to Fold a FItted Sheet is a collaboration between me and May. We met in England a few years back, I was producing a lesbian horror short, Held Down by a Shadow, and May played the lead. We instantly became best friends, it was automatic. We connected on a personal level, and were creatively in-sync. So a few months later, May tells me she’s visiting NYC and we should make a movie together. Immediately I got to work, crafting a story we could both connect to. It’s partially based on her life, being British and living in the US, where your life and job and relationship can disappear in a moment. But I like to find the strange angles in things, see them in new lights. We decided to make it a comedy and make Bellamy, the main character, a deeply complex and self-destructive woman, rather than go the usual route of pity and PSAs. It makes for an electrifying watch, as May fearlessly takes Bellamy further than the audience expects.

HOW TO FOLD A FITTED SHEET –
Trailer
from Tony
Clemente Jr
on Vimeo.

The film follows Bellamy, a British woman being deported from the US. While she packs her things, trying to get her fitted sheet to fold, the customer service rep on the phone (played by the terribly talented Jesse Regis) gives her the run-around as she tries to move her money. Bellamy’s at the end of her rope, remembering the good times with her girlfriend Val, until the deportation ended their relationship. But the deeper Bellamy dives, both into herself and the fitted sheet, the more she uncovers about herself, and the truth of her situation. Bellamy learns she might not be the woman she thinks she is. I adored working with May, she taught me so much, and we’re already talking about our next collab, post-covid. You can catch How to Fold a Fitted Sheet on Amazon Prime and more, here:

https://linktr.ee/fittedsheetfilm

TGG: Can you tell us about “Wild Nights with Emily”?

TC: Where to begin! “Wild Nights with Emily” was a three year journey for me, beginning fresh out of college. It was actually my first job. I started as a production assistant, and eventually became the lead editor & associate producer. The feature comedy about Emily Dickinson premiered at SXSW, played in theaters nationally, and was sold to NBC Universal. I connected with this project because even though it has a slapstick, camp element, it’s based on real history and research. The film brings to light the erased queer life and romance of Emily and her lover Sue. It bothered me to see how history had rewritten this woman as unloveable and vacant, when she was really full of life. I got to see the actual doctored letters up-close, where Susan’s name was removed or revised into something else. It’s quite a remarkable story, and I think that’s why it connected with so many audiences, despite being a micro-budget film. It even garnered an Indie Spirit nom. Wild Nights taught me everything I know about how to launch a low-budget indie film, from pre-production to distribution. I hope to take what I learned and bring my own films to life, on the feature level. You can now stream Wild Nights with Emily on Hulu.

Watch it now: https://www.hulu.com/movie/wild-nights-with-emily-97395e81-9b84-482c-8415-c1fdac5de211

TGG: We have a lot of indie filmmakers who follow this website, so I can’t pass the opportunity to ask about being a festival script reader. What’s it like, and do you have any advice for people wanting to submit their scripts (i.e. the $64,000 question* – what do you look for in a script)?

TC: That awfully specific sum of money is spot-on. The best advice I can give to writers – being one myself – is you should only submit with confidence. Is this draft ready to be seen? Will it show off your skills, your style and vision, in the most impactful way? If it’s not ready, don’t waste your money. I know firsthand, script submissions add up. If you’re not putting your best work forward, don’t let go of it yet. Spend more time, get it to that place, and know you’re going to succeed before sending it in. There’s no one real answer to the question of what readers like me look for. Spelling matters. Formatting matters. But more importantly, am I reading something I haven’t read before? And more important than that, is it done in a
skillful way that could translate into an actual film? I read hundreds of scripts a year, and other readers read just as much. Characters should be more than tropes. Dialogue shouldn’t sound generic. And your ideas, your voice, the thing that makes you you, that should be popping off every page.

Being a script reader is great for me as a writer. It’s always easier to see flaws in other people’s work than your own. When you’re too close to a script, you could be killing it while thinking you’re nailing it. Then you see a bunch of other writers making the same mistake, and it finally wakes you up. Not wanting to sound too negative, it also helps you see what shines, what works. It helps me evaluate my own scripts more objectively, and I also love doing it. Nantucket is a great film festival, I can’t recommend them enough.

TGG: Finally, what’s next for you and how can we best support you (i.e. where can we buy your films/follow you on social media etc.)?

TC: First off, I’m honored to be asked a sixth question. Secondly, what is next for me? I ask that every day! Honestly, the best way to support me is to interact. The pandemic has created such isolation and loneliness, and there’s nothing I crave more than connecting with fellow creatives. I’m active on Insta and Twitter and I love talking shop.

https://www.instagram.com/tccinemas/

https://twitter.com/tccinemas_

My weird experiments in film photography are on my site:

https://www.tccinemas.com/film-photography

and I have a Picfair page if you have the strange desire to purchase them:

https://tccinemas.picfair.com/

I use pre-exposed film to mix wild colors and light leaks, creating a whole new world.

I finished writing a novel last year, it’s insanely personal and I’m deep in revision mode. My next short film, Planet of Love, has been a long-time coming. It’s much darker and experimental than my previous films, and I’m still looking to find it the right home. But we’re getting there, and I can’t wait to share it with the world. I wrote the script at a very dark place in life. We produced it in two weeks and shot it in a single weekend. Something pretty powerful came out of it, and I can’t wait to see where it goes. Check out the trailer here.

Planet of Love TRAILER
from Tony Clemente Jr on
Vimeo.

https://www.tccinemas.com/planet-of-love

Feel free to watch my above films, I honestly love when folks reach out and tell me how they responded to it. I want to hear from you! You can log them on Letterboxd, and yes of course I’m on Letterboxd, right here: https://letterboxd.com/tonyboloney/

Lastly, I’ve been working tirelessly on my feature screenplay, Marconiville.

https://www.tccinemas.com/tonys-scripts

I’ve been working on it since I was fifteen! It’s finally in a good place, and just became a finalist for the HUMANITAS David & Lynn Angell Comedy College Fellowship. It’s a teen melodrama (naturally), we’ve got two producers on board, and I’m shopping it around to script labs and festivals. Any investors or insanely rich people who want to dump money on new queer content, I’m right here! So keep your eyes out for that. Otherwise, send me dumb tweets and dog pics and true crime docuseries to watch. I always check my DMs.

TGG: Thank you so much Tony! I’m really looking forward to your new projects!

  • NB: “The $64,000 Question” was a popular game show (the precursor to “Who wants to be a millionaire?”) which gave birth to the phrase “and that’s the sixty-four thousand dollar question” i.e. the most difficult/important question. It seems like it’s dropped out of common
    use.
     

     

Please support Hamish by clicking one of these links:
https://linktr.ee/hamishdownie


We welcome your comments and feedback below. If this is your first visit, be sure to read the Privacy / Terms and Conditions Of Use. And Please, Play Nice.


As an Amazon Associate we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Thanks for visiting. Let us know what you think.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.