Three visionaries, three stories to tell, three new films—it seems we’re having a Hollywood moment. Someone, please, turn down the lights.
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Do cupcakes and politics mix? They do in “Mayor Cupcake,” the feature-length film in which a small-town baker brings her homespun smarts to the mayor’s office in Bridgeville and revitalizes the town.
Shot in Dewey Beach, Bridgeville and Georgetown, the movie stars Lea Thompson, of “Back to the Future” fame, as Mary Maroni, a.k.a. Mayor Cupcake. Thompson’s daughters are played by her real-life teenage daughters, Zoey and Madelyn Deutch, and her husband is played by Judd Nelson, star of many films, including the ’80s classic “The Breakfast Club.”
There is even a scene in the movie where Zoey Deutch stands on stage at the Bottle & Cork and sings the “The Breakfast Club’s” title song, “Don’t You Forget About Me,” as a meta-reference and homage to Nelson.
But “Don’t You Forget About Me” could be the title song for the creative journey of Alex Pires, the writer, director and producer of “Mayor Cupcake.”
“I wrote a story about my mother, who was uneducated, unsophisticated and naïve, and grew up as one of eight children in a small town in Massachusetts,” Pires says. “She never knew her father. He died when she was born. And in that part of the Northeast, if you didn’t have money, they buried you on the far side of the cemetery, on Pauper’s Hill, with only a numbered disc, not a gravestone, because gravestones cost money. When we would go visit my grandfather, we had to go to the Pauper’s Hill side and find that disc. It was humiliating.
“So the original story was about a woman who earned enough money to move her father off of Pauper’s Hill and into the cemetery. She had to get permission from the cemetery, from the Catholic Church and other officials. It took her years and years to do this, but, my mom, she finally got her father moved into the cemetery.
“That story became a story about a woman who works in the bakery at Jimmy’s Grille and is angry because her grandmother is buried in Pauper’s Field in Bridgeville, and she wants to move her. And then, through a series of events, she becomes mayor of Bridgeville.”
If Jimmy’s Grille, the Bottle & Cork and the name Alex Pires sound familiar, it’s because he owns all of them, plus The Rusty Rudder and Northbeach—and now Highway One Pictures, a film production company. Though the 62-year-old has found fame and fortune in restaurants, music and as a high-powered attorney, it’s the movies that have always captivated Pires’ imagination.
“There was a movie theater near our little town in Massachusetts, and we went as often as we could. All of those post-World War II movies, those are still my favorites. There’s a movie called ‘The Best Years of Our Lives’ that really touched me. Also, ‘Marty.’ Hell of a film. ‘On the Waterfront’—I’ve seen that 30 or 40 times. Seriously.
“I think of movies as friends. The actors reveal their secrets to you. You’re sitting in the dark with these characters, and they learn things about themselves and go through experiences—with you. It’s a relationship.
“For example, there’s a scene in ‘On the Waterfront’ where Brando, the big tough guy, is in love with a woman and is trying to get her out of a situation, but he can’t. She says, ‘I know you would help me if you could,’ and she touches Brando’s face. He collapses in front of her, just a pile of mush. And you feel what Brando’s character feels. I mean, that’s great stuff.”
So when Pires sat down to write his own movie, he found inspiration in his mother’s story and in the character-driven movies of his childhood. And he had the money to fund the filming. With a budget of $300,000 that came from his own pocket, Pires set about bringing “Mayor Cupcake” to life. Screenwriter Art D’Alessandro fleshed out the script, Hollywood big shot Neil Roach handled the cinematography, and Seth Flaume edited the film.
Pires is in talks with Lifetime, ABC Family and other networks to use “Mayor Cupcake” as a TV movie. “My hope,” he says, “is that the movie would launch a TV series.”
That would be icing on the cake.
Lights, Camera, Delaware! | Where to Catch Independent Films
Hearts And Minds Film
With the motto “civic engagement through the cinematic arts,” this Wilmington-based organization features documentaries that address social issues. The new must-see is “Twin Poets: Why I Write,” in which twin brothers Al Mills and Nnamdi Chukwuocha use spoken word poetry jams to awaken and inspire Wilmington’s violent, poverty-stricken Riverside neighborhood.
If something is happening in Delaware’s film scene, producers and brothers Gordon and Greg DelGiorno know about it. Want to make a movie, star in one, or watch one? Head to the company’s Website or Facebook page to get all the latest information.
Delaware Independent Filmmakers
G. Lloyd Morris, the DelGiorno brothers, Ric Edevane, Bill Page and other Delaware filmmakers belong to this professional network of writers, directors and producers. Trying to get a movie made in Delaware? Contact DIF.
Newark Film Festival
Held annually in September (Newark) and early October (Wilmington), both festivals feature big budget releases and indie flicks. Check out the Website for new, independent flicks.
Rehoboth Beach Film Society
In addition to The Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival each November, The Rehoboth Beach Film Society holds monthly screenings of internationally flavored movies. The Website has a complete schedule and other information for film buffs.