Have you ever drifted from your best friend?
I thought mine would remain beside me forever. I pictured us laughing as bridesmaids at each other’s weddings and raising our kids side-by-side. She knew me better than anyone. So what happened? Did I do something wrong? Or did we just grow into different people, during the most formative years of our life?
For a teen girl, losing a best friend can feel like losing your entire world, but it’s rarely given the same weight as losing a romantic relationship. Growing Pains follows childhood girlfriends Zoe and Nat, who face the tumultuous transition from middle to high school as their friendship drifts apart. A real and raw coming-of-age story about identity, sexuality, the aftermath of surviving cancer, and growing into yourself amidst a society that throws a rug over the serious hardships that teen girls face. Addressing disability, queer representation, and mental health; Growing Pains is a love letter from my co-writer Mariana Fabian and me, who have forever struggled to see our stories depicted accurately on screen. Or, depicted at all.
Growing Pains is written, directed, produced, and filmed by women. Our film is a female-centered story, so it’s only appropriate that women are both in front and behind the camera. According to the Geena Davis Institute, only 7% of directors, 13% of writers, and 20% of producers are female. In the entertainment industry, men outnumber women in key production roles by 5 to 1. Growing Pains is supporting female filmmakers and championing diverse, real stories about young women. Shot entirely in Massachusetts, Growing Pains uplifts local New England artists and locations.
Zoe Christopoulos and Natalia “Nat” Martinez are childhood best friends. Zoe is a bubbly and self-involved childhood cancer survivor. Nat is witty, hard-working, and reserved. During the summer before high school, their friendship drifts apart as they each set out on their own journey of self-discovery.
Zoe develops insecurities about her body, which stem from a cancer scar that divides her stomach in half. In an attempt to feel more confident in her own skin, she joins the crew team but then develops body dysmorphia and an eating disorder. Crew becomes quite toxic for Zoe, as she is trying to make the lightweight boat. She resorts to unhealthy habits, like using diet pills and restricting her eating. Zoe meets Dan, an older boy on the crew team, who pressures her into sexual encounters. Zoe pretends to be someone she’s not and loses her innocence too fast, which ultimately makes her feel worse.
Zoe’s self-involvement prevents her from noticing Nat as she navigates discovering her sexuality and first crush on Lexie, a new co-worker. Her dad is uncomfortable with Nat’s budding relationship, as he comes to terms with his internalized homophobia.
Nat struggles to manage her family’s expectations, as her parents put tremendous pressure on her to work full time at her family’s restaurant. She has the responsibilities of an adult and no free time to be a kid, as she is expected to run the restaurant and help her family succeed. Nat’s home life fractures, as her relationship fails with her dad and her grandmother becomes ill.
Zoe and Nat’s friendship comes to a boiling point as Zoe is unaware of what Nat is going through and Nat puts little effort into maintaining their friendship. As Nat hangs out more with Lexie, Zoe becomes jealous and afraid of where she stands with Nat.
Will Nat and Zoe be able to rectify their fragmented friendship?
Meet our Characters
Zoe Christopoulos, a 15 year old cancer survivor, struggles with body dysmorphia and an eating disorder as she pursues crew. Played by Molly Morneweck, a high school student from Wayland Massachusetts with a love of performing. After many roles in the theater, this is her first film project. The role of Zoe resonates with Molly, who is also a rower with a medical history that includes a tumor removal at age six. She is thrilled to be a part of this amazing film.
Nat Guzman, a 14 year old closeted lesbian Latina, feels an immense sense of responsibility to manage her family’s expectations and balance her home life. Played by Deanna Tarraza. Deanna Tarraza was born and raised in Boston, MA. Her love for acting started at the young age of eight when she began doing commercial and print work. Since then, she has been in a number of projects with Growing Pains being her first lead in a feature film.
Catherine Argyrople – Catherine Argyrople (she/they) is the Writer, Director, and Producer of Growing Pains. Catherine is a childhood cancer survivor and is a differently-abled filmmaker. Catherine graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts from Northeastern University in Boston, where she studied Media & Screen Studies and Media Production. She has almost a decade of experience in the media space, from her work as a freelance photographer and videographer to her work as a video producer. Catherine is excited to be making her directorial debut with this project, as narrative work is where her passion lies.
Mariana Fabian – Mariana Fabian (she/they) is a film studies/media scholar at NC State and a student journalist. She is the Writer and Associate Producer for Growing Pains. She helped write this film because she wanted to see more characters like herself on screen.
Michelle Carr – Michelle (she/her) is the Producer for Growing Pains & a Professor at Northeastern University in the Communication Studies Department. Michelle teaches Television Studio Production, Television Field Production, and Sound Production for Digital Media courses within the department. Michelle additionally holds a graduate certificate in Business Administration and continues to work professionally in the Boston area on various educational research video projects as a freelance producer, editor and videographer. She just finished co-producing (with Bill Lancaster), directing, and editing her first dramatic short, “Moving On” (2022), starring veteran actor Tom Kemp.
Lynn Weissman – Lynn Weissman (she/her) is an award-winning DP/Cinematographer based in the Boston area. Her work has aired on major networks including PBS, HBO, Discovery+, and has screened and won awards in film festivals worldwide. Weissman’s narrative cinematography work includes Penny, Season 3 of the Unconditional Love web series, and The Secret We Hide Tiki Tok mini-series. More about Lynn Weissman at WeisswomanProductions.com and imdb.com/name/nm2363120/.
Lia Lucine Cary – Lia-Lucine Cary (she/her) is the Assistant Director & Associate Producer for Growing Pains. Lia-Lucine is a creative filmmaker whose central aim is to capture untold stories and to inspire people to rethink their relationship with each other and the natural world. She has pursued her love of storytelling through filmmaking, teaching, and advocacy. Lia has filmed and produced projects with the world’s leading media and brand outlets including USA, MTV, and Google.
Plans for Film
We are filming over 21 days from August 9 to September 10, 2022. We are filming at 9 different locations across Massachusetts. Debut dramatic feature films like The Novice, Pariah, and Eighth Grade have premiered at festivals such as Tribeca and Sundance Film Festival, and have landed on streaming services such as HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and ShowTime. We see Growing Pains aligning with these films.
Incentives for Contributing
Incentives will begin to be distributed following our Production in September 2022
$25 – Receive a social media shout-out on our Growing Pains Instagram & Facebook accounts, plus a “Special Thanks” mention in the film credits!
$50 – A Behind-the-Scenes digital photo book & a digital thank you note from Catherine Argyrople. And, all of the perks above!
$75 – A Growing Pains-inspired playlist on Spotify. And, all of the perks above!
$150 – A digital copy of Catherine Argyrople’s annotated Growing Pains director script. And, all of the perks above!
$300 – A digital download of the film. And, all of the perks above!
$500 – A digital download of a signed Growing Pains poster. And, all of the perks above!
$1,000 – A Headshot Photography Session with Catherine Argyrople (applicable to MA residents only, redeemable in September 2022), as well as 2 tickets to the premiere of Growing Pains (travel & accommodation not included). And, all of the perks above!
$3,000 – A Associate Producer Credit on the film & IMDb, as well as 2 tickets to the premiere of Growing Pains (travel & accommodation not included). Plus, an exclusive Zoom Q & A with Writer/Director/Producer Catherine Argyrople to answer any of your burning questions about Growing Pains. And, all of the perks above!
$5,000 – A Producer Credit on the film & IMDb, as well as 2 tickets to the premiere of Growing Pains (travel & accommodation not included). Plus, an exclusive Zoom Q & A with Writer/Director/Producer Catherine Argyrople to answer any of your burning questions about Growing Pains. And, all of the perks above!
Kaboom! How Comics Changed America (w.t.) is a new three-part television series that explores the history of American comics, showing how this once lowbrow art form associated with youth rose to the heights of legitimacy and prestige. Comics today are used in every corner of academia and have inspired blockbuster movies seen by millions. They are also bellwethers of the times: Art Spiegelman’s Maus won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, but thirty years later has been banned from schools in Tennessee.
Comics have always caused trouble, and comics creators have always found ways around restrictive rules and codes. Our series offers a broad look at the many genres that have defined American comics, with an emphasis on the underground and alternative traditions, and on creator-owned comics that continue to be at the heart of comics innovation today. Each film features the stories of larger than life characters, many of them immigrants and outsiders who use this medium to tell their own versions of the American story.
Episode 1 introduces the very earliest American cartoons, including Ben Franklin’s “Join, or Die” panel that became our first meme, and a scathing strip by schoolboys at Kings College (NY) that lampooned their professor. It tells the story of Thomas Nast, who created our images of Uncle Sam and Santa Claus and destroyed the career of “Boss” Tweed with his political comics. We see how William Randolph Hearst outspent Joseph Pulitzer for Hogan’s Alley, which featured “the yellow kid” and gave us the phrase “yellow journalism.” Comic strips helped sell newspapers, and as they became increasingly popular, they were published on their own. In the 1930s Maxwell Gaines (né Ginsberg) helped establish the comic book industry and launched Educational Comics (EC) with the aim of publishing uplifting stories. The world of comic strips exploded.
Episode 2 begins at a moment when comics had become so culturally powerful, they scared people. The U.S. Senate met in 1954 to discuss the dangers that comics posed to young minds. Under pressure to regulate itself, the industry created a “Comics Code” to enforce conservative values through both words and images. After the death of his father, who had created EC Comics, William Gains transformed the company into a popular label for horror, suspense, sci-fi, and political humor. EC’s Mad, the brainchild of Harvey Kurtzman, became a must-read for adolescents who shared Kurtzman’s subversive brand of humor. These innovations stood in clear violation of the Code, and Mad had to re-label itself as a “magazine” just to stay in print. But the Code inspired new innovations: a network of underground comics, where artists broke taboos, experimented, and rethought the way comics could be distributed. A leader of this movement, Robert Crumb, created the salacious Zap, which came with a warning label: “For adult intellectuals only!” Trina Robbins produced the first all-women comics anthology, Wimmen’s Comix. Howard Cruse edited Gay Comix, while Justin Green, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, and Harvey Pekar pioneered the autobiographical tell-all.
By Episode 3, comics are everywhere, with new books and journals appearing each month. Sales of comics and graphic novels top $1.2 billion in 2019, and the medium becomes known for social critique and first person narrative, especially on topics of ethnicity and sexuality. Artists from Jewish, Black, Latinx, Asian, and LGBTQ communities draw from the edgy yet accessible quality of the comics platform to make their voices heard. Superhero stories make a comeback and inspire a wave of new Hollywood films. Comics Studies explodes in popularity at academic institutions across the country. Most publishing houses now have graphic novel imprints for children and young adults, and Kickstarter has become the largest ever “publisher” of graphic novels and comics. In a moment of American history when so many people are rethinking our identity and place in the world, it is no wonder that comics has become a go-to platform for passionate new creators and fans.
COMICS USA has been awarded development funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The producer is Kathryn Dietz, an award-winning PBS filmmaker who grew up on Archie comics and still has a stack of her favorite Mad magazines. The director is Asaf Galay, whose The Hebrew Superhero told the story of Israeli comics, and whose other award-winning films highlight the contributions of Jewish artists to American culture. He writes, “This is a story of outcasts and outsiders whose tenacity and artistic commitment enabled them to transform America’s cultural landscape and surprise the world.”
Have you heard of the Duck Tape Festival? Many who are asked share they are both unaware and intrigued by its uniqueness. Finding Festivals is a travel genre series that brings awareness to unique annual events, such as the Duck Tape Festival, and uses them as a vehicle to educate PBS viewers on art, heritage, culture, community, history, agriculture and economics.
After serving in an ambassador role in her hometown as fair queen, host and producer Haylie Robinson (aka Hayliestory) experienced surrounding towns through a different lens which inspired Finding Festivals.
Finding Festivals is a 13-episodic series featuring 1-2 annual events per 30-minute installment. The series will air on a PBS affiliate station with intentions of making it available for carriage nationwide.
From heritage and agricultural centered festivals to unique and eclectic annual events Finding Festivals will provoke interest, share culture and introduce a new travel style anyone can implement.
Your support is needed, appreciated and will help bring communities together. Thank you!
Our world is changing. The cycles of our local weather, once familiar, are becoming unrecognizable. The changes are complex, and the ways people experience them can sometimes be devastating. Turnaround Films documents these changes, explores why they are happening, and introduces the people who are finding innovative ways to mitigate or adapt to them.
Turnaround Films’ goal is to provide quality, accurate videos to educators, students, legislators, and activists who need to communicate with the public about climate change. These people are on the frontlines of addressing problems and organizing workable solutions. They often don’t have the means to create video content on these specific issues. Our films are designed to be used in presentations, in classrooms, in town and city meetings, or on websites and social media — anywhere that well-told stories might inspire people to feel more empowered to become part of the solutions to problems caused by climate change.
Turnaround Films presents each environmental problem as a film series. In the first episode of each series, we show a problem we are facing and how it will affect us. In the subsequent episodes, we tell the stories of the individuals and organizations that are working to find solutions or a new way of adapting our lives to live with this change. In this way, we can look deeply into issues like stormwater flooding, renewable energies, education, environmental justice, sea-level rise, and many more.
We intend to keep the Turnaround Films project fully subsidized through donations and grants so that our films can be distributed as inexpensively as possible and that the audiences are never restricted by financial means.
UNLOCKING RNA tells the amazing story of Nobel Laureate Dr. Philip Sharp and the events that led to the birth of the biotech revolution, set in Kendall Square, the most innovative square mile on the planet.
Some say the US has fallen behind, with great scientific discoveries happening abroad and Asia on the cutting edge. But we cannot overlook the incredible innovation and discoveries made possible by the US biotech industry, driving economies worldwide.
In this story, we unearth the humble Kentucky roots of Nobel Laureate Dr. Phillip A. Sharp and his discovery of RNA splicing that led to the biotech revolution as we know it today.
UNLOCKING RNA will take you on an journey through the birth and proliferation of a movement that has saved millions of lives and whose headquarters remain in Kendall Square in the heart of Cambridge, Massachusetts – known as the most innovative square mile on the planet.
As the world has now been introduced to mRNA technology through the lifesaving vaccines developed to combat COVID-19, the time is ripe to share the full story of the groundbreaking work and key players that paved the way for this revolution.
DIRECTOR Bill Haney
PRODUCER Carina Chavda, Bill Haney
A young man is invited to embark on a precarious cross-country journey by his estranged father in a beat-up old car. Along the way he uncovers mysteries of friendship, family, love, and what secrets are enclosed in the sealed container in the trunk.
On the heels of Frederick’s 18th birthday, a strange man appears at his door on Cape Cod to give him an envelope from his deadbeat father with a single car key, the name of a mechanic, and a California address with a date and time on it just a few weeks into the future. Frederick’s curiosity gets the best of him as he sets out to uncover mysteries of his past, friendship and love – and the suspicious sealed container in the trunk of his 1968 Dodge Polara. Along the way he is guided by Billy, the neighborhood mechanic, Nick, his privileged best friend with overbearing parents, and Maeve, a young Irish woman on her own cross-country journey across the US. In this coming-of-age-story, Frederick gains the courage to step into the next phase of his life with the beauty of the open road as his back-drop.
DIRECTOR: Adam Moyer
PRODUCER, WRITER: Bill Haney
Waterkeeper explores the astonishing and uplifting life of environmental activist Diane Wilson, Waterkeeper for the San Antonio Bay Estuarine system. The film interweaves several storylines revolving around this visionary, funny, and intrepid warrior, who’s been fighting her entire life for the waters she grew up on.
Our primary story captures Wilson’s newest fight, as it unfolds like an environmental true crime. In December of 2020, Diane discovers that a newly formed oil pipeline company named Max Midstream Texas has filed an application to The Army Corps of Engineers for permits to build a new oil export terminal at the Port of Calhoun. For the largest tanker ships to gain access to the terminal, Max Midstream plans to dredge a massive expansion of the shipping channels in Matagorda Bay, heart of the local fishing industry. However…
…in 1994, after discovering 41 million cubic yards of mercury had been released into the waters by Alcoa Aluminum’s Point Comfort Plant, the EPA declared Matagorda Bay a Superfund site. They determined that the safest way to mitigate the toxic mercury, was to allow contaminated sediment to remain undisturbed on the bay floor. But late last year, the US Army Corps of Engineers reversed the EPA’s decision, and has fast-tracked the approval process for the Max Midstream proposal. To protest the Army Corp’s reversal, 72-year-old Diane began her thirteenth hunger strike on April 7, 2021. After 38 days, and 48 hours in the Galveston County Jail, Diane was released. A week later, she led a protest in front of the Max Midstream headquarters in Houston. The ACOE approval deadline to accept bids from dredging firms by spring 2022.
Into the Max Midstream story, we interweave Diane’s epic 30-year war with multinational petrochemical giant Formosa Plastics. Using archival news coverage, footage from past documentaries, and interviews, we explore the epic Formosa saga, which culminates in October 2019 when Diane’s suit against the company settles in her favor for $50 million, the largest penalty awarded for violations of the Clean Water Act in US history.
Throughout, we entwine Diane’s remarkable life story. The only female shrimper in her community, she has five children, the youngest autistic. She has authored 4 books, and is writing on her fifth. In 2001 Diane, broke into the Union Carbide plant in her hometown, and dropped a banner denouncing the company for the Bhopal India gas leak that killed 8,000 people. She was arrested and spent five months in jail for it. She was so moved by the incarcerated women she met there, she founded the Texas Jail Project, which holds county jails accountable for mistreatment and medical neglect of inmates. She co-founded the international peace organization Code Pink. Diane was arrested for hopping the White House fence to protest the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Despite a high school education, Diane is a sought after public speaker by environmental groups around the world. She has endured thirteen hunger strikes, the longest 57 days.…
Our final storyline explores the catastrophic impact of the all-powerful Texas petrochemical industry on low income/fence line Gulf Coast communities like Seadrift, Texas. Using industry-produced promotional films and PR campaigns, we show how these powerful corporations sell folks on the benefits of bringing their industries to their towns. In direct contrast, archival news footage of chemical spills, explosions, and daily releases of toxic chemicals, alongside testimony from victims of the pollution, reveals the devastation to those communities.
Diane’s courage and selflessness is the engine that drives our film. Through the lens of her lifelong David vs. Goliath saga, Waterkeeper offers a boots-on-the-ground view of a fight for humankind’s most precious resource – clean water.
But Waterkeeper paints on a broader canvas. In telling the specifics of Diane’s activism, the film points to the larger environmental justice story playing out in low income, fence line communities across the planet. Of our how industrial polluters skirt regulation, and continue to squander our dwindling water supply. Waterkeeper shows how we got here, and how to move forward…
Saving Southern Italy begins in the late stages of covid, when I return to the land of my Italian ancestry looking to find a home to buy and renovate, and along the way I’ll shepherd other ex-pats through the incredibly challenging yet rewarding process of honoring their roots in a tangible way. There are many well publicized schemes for the sale of abandoned properties, so I will engage property managers and lawyers who will help guide us through the options, from the “case un euro” phenomenon to homes on the private market.
In essence, we are collectively “building gratitude” in a bricks and mortar fashion, which besides the possibility of buying a “heritage” home, we will meet other Italian-Americans who might be establishing a business such as a wedding venue, turning a village into an “Albergo Diffuso,” a diffused hotel, or perhaps populating an artist-in-residence borgo.
The tone of the documentary will feel authentic and grounded, not “reality tv” but cinematic realism.
After all, we’re filming Italy here! So, I want viewers to smell every batch of bread baking, absorb the glow of every sunset, hear the music of feet shuffling on weathered cobblestones and feel the tug of their heartstrings when visiting villages that are literal time warps, many with an eerily melancholy aura of abandonment.
The storyline will mainly be driven by the narrative of the interviews conducted with the subjects being featured, rather than a voice-over narration.
We believe that high-quality, thoughtful stories can impact the world.
Unfortunately, too often in our world, those with power are the ones with the loudest voices. Using money and influence, they can control the public discourse while millions of unheard voices are drowned out. Our team has fought against that notion through our documentary work, but there is only so much a single film can do, which is why we needed to create a new way to shine a light on wide-reaching societal issues and amplify those voices who needed it most.
We call it VIDA Voices.
Through crowdfunding efforts, VIDA Voices will craft & amplify stories about often overlooked societal issues by connecting unheard voices with filmmakers & storytellers looking for meaningful, paid work. With expertise from our team and our network of various filmmakers and storytellers, we plan to produce 12 mini-documentaries, ranging in length from 7 to 20 minutes, covering a myriad of often overlooked societal issues like tobacco harm reduction, dyslexia, and much more.
Each production will also include a “focus group” portion where those with a deep understanding of a specific topic will be asked to review a draft of the piece. We will then ask those individuals to provide overall feedback on authenticity and potential impact before releasing the final report to the public.
We believe in a future crafted through storytelling and are thrilled to craft it together.
Special Acknowledgment to donors over $10,000:
Mark Hamdan ($49,990)
FLY BROTHER with Ernest White II is a television travel docu-series about friendship and connection, featuring master storyteller Ernest White II currently airing in the United States on Public Television Stations and Create TV nationwide, and via streaming at PBS.org and Revry globally. In each half-hour episode, Ernest’s real-life friends bring him into their communities, show him what they love about the place, and show the audience that the whole world is our tribe. Season One featured 11 fascinating destinations around the world and won the 52nd Annual Public Media Award for Independent Production, as well as the 42nd Annual Silver People’s Telly Award. Season Two features 10 all-American destinations, including the Adirondacks, Alaska, Detroit, Hawaii, Kansas, Nashville, Natchez, Newark, Puerto Rico, and San Francisco, bringing together cultures and stories from sea to shining sea. Season Two is scheduled to premiere on Public Television Stations across the country in January 2022.