Native Toledoans to shoot Prohibition Era FilmWritten by Guest Author | | GuestAuthor@toledofreepress.com
By Chase Will
In April, native Toledoans and cousins Charissa Gracyk and Gillian Perdeau will shoot “Holy Toledo,” a 17-minute film based on their great uncle William Wallace, who lived in Prohibition-era Toledo and stored liquor for Jack Kennedy and Yonnie Licavoli, rival bootleggers.
This project is meant to draw investors toward a feature-length film, which will be shot entirely in Toledo.
“All these years my family would tell me these stories and pass them down. Finally they said ‘that’s what you need to write a movie about,’” said Gracyk, director and co-screenwriter.
In the film, the Licavoli gang discovers Wallace is serving both sides of the rivalry. Although he can’t be executed because of connections with their money-handler, Wallace is punished when his girlfriend is kidnapped. As Wallace searches for ransom money, his girlfriend annoys the gangsters to the point where they set her free.
“It keeps getting better and better, and it’s all true,” said Gracyk. “It’s history, so we had to do a lot of research, which I love anyway. The biggest challenge has been condensing the story.”
“We’re writing about real people, so we couldn’t just make it up as we went along, like we’d normally do with a story,” said Perdeau, co-screenwriter. “We both grew up hearing the story, but we spent around 6 months doing intensive research.”
The duo graduated from Notre Dame Academy and moved to Los Angeles to pursue screenwriting. They’ve partnered on scripts for over 12 years, and their first produced film, “Suicide Dolls,” played the festival circuit and won the African Academy Award for Best Diaspora Film, as well as the St. Louis Emerging Filmmaker Award.
“We lived in Boston and were watching a movie which wasn’t very good. We decided to write a better one ourselves, so we did, then we entered it in a contest and placed pretty high. That’s when we realized it’s something we’re pretty good at and enjoy doing,” said Perdeau. “Because we know each other really well, we can be honest about ideas. We both have different strengths. Charissa’s good at writing, and I do really well with dialogue.”
Although the short film is being shot in Los Angeles due to crew necessities and time, the feature film will be shot entirely in Toledo. Gracyk and Perdeau plan to involve the city in every aspect, including casting, crew and catering.
“The goal is to get everyone excited with the short film, maybe get together for an after-party, and in the Fall we’ll come back and film the feature,” said Gracyk. “I’m really excited to go back home, back to my roots. It’s a project very close to my heart, and I’m glad I get to show off my hometown.”
For more information on “Holy Toledo,” visit the film’s Facebook page. The film “Suicide Dolls” can be rented on Amazon, iTunes and Vudu.