As director Joe Shaughnessy sums it up, Now Here is about the moment of realization that there is a different way. “Spiritual transformation,” he says, “can happen in an instant.”
Shaughnessy and I met over the winter in a late-night Venice, Calif., café. We were both writing—I on my articles—and he on his screenplay.
Making his directorial debut, Shaughnessy also wrote and co-produced Now Here, which went into production this summer. The metaphysical drama is based loosely on his life experiences and spiritual understanding synthesized over many years.
The story centers on three troubled individuals who are confronted by their past, catapulting them into an alternate reality where the childhood trauma that scars them never occurred, and their lives are radically different.
Usually I screen films from the vantage point of a cozy chair at private media screenings. However, this time I had my own reality shift as I had the unique opportunity to write about a film from the inside out. I played a small role as a Rabbi, affording me the chance to report from the set—my one-day shoot at a Malibu mansion.
It was awe-inspiring to watch so many talented people do what they do well in a rush of symphonic activity—from the resourcefulness of Casey Dady in the art department, the wizardry of makeup artist Ilka Monforte, and the endless work of Chris Brune, who is assistant to the director.
One week later at the cast party in Santa Monica on Aug. 1, I was able to talk with many of the cast members and crew.
Wolfgang Bodison (“A Few Good Men”) shared his thoughts on “Now Here.” He said it was a “great journey about second chances and being able to heal wounds. We all have wounds that shaped our lives; what Joe was explaining [through the film is] that the ego was there to protect us, but unfortunately it puts armor and builds up walls and we forget our true selves. Once we have been wounded, we are afraid to be our true self.”
Electra Avellan (“Grindhouse”), the spirited young Venezuelan actress, said: “The moment I was given the script I knew that I had to do it. It hit home.”
She attributes this to her father: “I grew up with the philosophy that everything you do you are 100 percent responsible for; your ego is not who you are. Finally,” she beamed, “something I can show the world on a big scale how I feel about my life, the philosophy of my life.”
Actor Annalisa Erickson explained how the process of making the film brought up many issues for actors, allowing them a chance to transform the pain into something hopefully inspirational for others.
“Whatever pain has crossed my path, I've tried to turn that into something good or useful—often just to remind people of our common humanity. I tried to use memories of my parents fighting for authenticity, as a contribution to the positive message of the film—to help others identify with the truth in that kind of situation, reminding myself and others that there is life on the other side.
Also appearing in the film is an impressive cast, including Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs), Alex Rocco (The Godfather), Shaun Waller (30,000 Leagues Under the Sea), and James Duval (Donnie Darko), Declan Joyce (Black Waters of Echo's Pond), Keith David (Platoon), and the legendary Mickey Rooney.