The cast and crew of “ANNALIESE! ANNALIESE!” stand Sept. 9 in the backyard garden of a Novi Township home. In front, from the left are Sydney Lepora (Annaliese) and Maryann Nagel (Rev. Mother Mary Anne). In the back, from the left, are Dan Swedorske, Alyse Paquin, Jan Swedorske, Pam Williams, Stan Williams, Daniel Knudsen and Kristina Kaylen.

The cast and crew of “ANNALIESE! ANNALIESE!” stand Sept. 9 in the backyard garden of a Novi Township home. In front, from the left are Sydney Lepora (Annaliese) and Maryann Nagel (Rev. Mother Mary Anne). In the back, from the left, are Dan Swedorske, Alyse Paquin, Jan Swedorske, Pam Williams, Stan Williams, Daniel Knudsen and Kristina Kaylen.

Photo provided by Kristina Kaylen

Featurette at Civic Theater in Farmington to deal with millennial female relationship angst

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published January 8, 2018

FARMINGTON — A new rom-com featurette called “ANNALIESE! ANNALIESE!” is told from the perspective of a millenial woman who has sworn off men after enduring one too many overt sexual advances. But the comedy takes on serious undertones as the main character gets into the reason why.

Annaliese is so desperate to keep away from men that she attempts to join a convent, though she soon discovers that they pray and work a bit too much for her; she is not remotely religious.

The locally produced 45-minute featurette, which contains seven webisodes, will premiere at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Farmington Civic Theater; doors open at 2 p.m. Its creators hope it can translate into a full-length movie in 2018.

The featurette — which is a film longer than 40 minutes, but shorter than a full-length movie — was written, produced and directed by Novi resident Stan Williams, a Hollywood script consultant who candidly pointed out that he is vastly different from the main character, as he does tend to be religious.

“I am 70 years old writing a millennial comedy of women — go figure. My wife gives me permission,” Williams joked during a phone interview.

Williams said that he’s been making films since he was in his 20s. 

“Most of the stuff I’m known for here in the area have been documentaries for corporations and nonprofits, and stuff like that,” he said.

Williams said that “ANNALIESE! ANNALIESE!” was originally written as an ultra-low-budget movie — the technical term in Hollywood for a movie made for $250,000 — but he still didn’t have enough money to make it. 

However, he realized that his production company had an opportunity to produce it as a featurette to tell Annaliese’s backstory.

“We have not heard of anyone trying to make a movie this way. I’m sure it’s been done, but not that I’ve heard of,” he said in an email. 

A crowdfunding campaign will be launched on the same day as the release of the featurette to raise the $250,000 to fund the full movie.

Most other things Williams has written cost millions of dollars, he said.

Williams said that if the featurette’s story intrigues enough people, he hopes that they will help him fund the movie, which picks up where the featurette ends. 

“If we get the funding, we’ll be shooting the film in the greater Farmington area, which will give an economic boost to the area, and then we’ll premiere it at the (Farmington Civic Theater),” he added in the email.

The movie would focus on terrible matchmaking-based dates that put Annaliese through the ringer, as well as serious and heartfelt moments that revolve around finding love in an unexpected way.

The plan is to take the full-length movie to the American Film Market in Santa Monica, California, to be sold to a distributor.

Williams said the story is good because Annaliese is beautiful and has brains.

“And although the harassment and abuse was not funny, how she dealt with it was. She didn’t accept it. She fought it, and so confidently (that) we came to love her for it,” Williams said in a press release. 

He added that the featurette uses professional actors.

“They’re fabulous actors,” Williams said.

One such actress is Farmington Hills resident Kelly Nieto, 54, who plays Annaliese’s mother. Nieto has also been Farmington Hills’ representative in Miss Michigan and a runner-up for Miss America. She won Miss Farmington in 1981.

Nieto said that her character is very different from Nieto herself.

“She is a completely overbearing … mom who wants Annaliese married, but is so afraid that Annaliese hates men — your typical helicopter mom,” Nieto said, adding that her character presents a number of problems in her daughter’s life.

Nieto, who has five children — three girls and two boys, ages 12-23 — said that she takes a page out of her mother’s playbook on raising children.

“I find that … it’s best to raise them with less words (and) more action, and then allow them to make mistakes and love them when they come back and help to guide,” Nieto said, adding that her character manipulates and uses passive aggression to make Annaliese feel bad.

“That can be so destructive,” she said, adding that she knows people who have strained relationships because of those traits.

“We see it play out with friends and family. … I think when parents are too overbearing, they’re trying to live their own lives through their kids,” Nieto said. She said that children are gifts from God. 

With Nieto’s background on-stage in the pageant circuit, her mother could have easily been a stage mom, like many other mothers were.

“My mom was not a hands-on pageant mom; she stood in the background and allowed me to make decisions — there if I needed her,” she said, adding that her mother raised four children who became very successful.

Williams said that he named the featurette “ANNALIESE! ANNALIESE!” because the characters often call her name twice, in exasperation, in response to the crazy things she does.

Williams added that the production, which he started working on over a year ago, is more relevant than ever.

“This is before the whole Harvey Weinstein sex scandal thing,” he said. 

Farmington Civic Theater General Manager Scott Freeman said in an email that after speaking to Williams about showcasing the featurette, he is looking forward to it.

“I was impressed by his project, enthusiasm and background,” Freeman said. “The clips I saw of ‘Annaliese! Annaliese!’ had a high production value — good acting, good lighting and camera work.”

Freeman added that it isn’t common that the theater shows locally produced work, but there have been a few screened there over the past few years.

“Mainstream movies are our staple, and that’s what people expect from us. However, I think having special events like this add to the variety and are of interest to our patrons,” Freeman said, adding that as a bonus, the theater may see first-time customers who become regulars.

The production company has partnered with the Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce and local businesses to provide theatergoers with goodie bags filled with coupons and swag.

“The main thing is we are trying to entice people to come out to the premiere,” Freeman said.

Tickets for the featurette cost $5; attendees will receive a $4 coupon for movie snacks, and $1 of their ticket price will go to HAVEN of Oakland County, a nonprofit organization for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Mary Martin, executive director of the Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce, said during a phone interview that Williams — whom she described as a “wonderful man” — got the ball rolling by suggesting that he and the chamber partner up to promote chamber businesses and the featurette.

“I think it’s a really super collaboration between the two entities, and of course our businesses that are coming forward to support it as well — couldn’t be better,” said Martin, who will attend the premiere. “I’m looking forward to the premiere and showcasing our businesses, but also showcasing the arts and the community through the production. … It’s going to be great.”

Williams said that he chose the city of Farmington because it is nearby and he wanted a small, renovated theater — not to mention that his three children and 10 grandchildren live in the city.

“It’s a hometown project, not a big thing,” Williams said. “We’re not doing this in Hollywood. We’re doing it here.”

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