Interview with writer/director Fernando J. Scarpa: DORADUS

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

DORADUS (dəˈrɑːdəs) have you ever heard the word before? What does the sound of it evoke? A person, place or thing? In writer/director Fernando J. Scarpa's new film Doradus, it may be all three.

Doradus (25 min short) had its premiere on opening night of The 7th Annual Philadelphia Independent Film Festival (June 25-29, 2014). Synopsis: Living out of the public eye for years, Hollywood producer Eleonore Donte (Mara New) is still a powerful woman of beauty, class and genius; whose movies are considered a part of Cinematic History. To his great surprise, young TV writer Demitri Christon receives an invitation to Eleonore’s private estate where he pitches his script ‘Doradus’; a story of ghosts. But… does Demitri believe in ghosts? 

The film has a lovely, eerie quality about it. Eleonore's house, a gorgeous mansion (Mara's actual home) is not frightening, instead it has a mysterious, ghostly air, a definite nod to Sunset Boulevard. It would appear this house acts as a gateway to Doradus, a plane of existence between this world and the next.

Le Anne Lindsay, Tinsel & Tine Editor with Filmmaker Fernando J. Scarpa

I got the opportunity to interview Fernando in the lobby of his Philadelphia hotel (The Alexander Inn) following the screening of his film; he was quite excited by the audience's reaction, as this was his first opportunity to watch the film with the public.  I asked him to further explain the meaning behind "Doradus"; there's a lovely rendering in the film of a city reminiscent of Agra in India, created by the story board artist William Lippincott.

The below audio/video allows you to hear the the thoughts behind the origins of this film in Scarpa's own words:

When it comes to shorts, the question most often is, does the filmmaker plan to expand it to feature length? Yes, Fernando is shopping a feature length script, however, what was more interesting to me was his idea for Doradus to be a TV series!

The premise would be Fantasy Island meets The Golden Girls meets The Medium.  In the beginning of the film when the main character Demitri arrives at the house, he's greeted by a table of 5 well-dressed, eccentric, fabulous ladies ranging in approximate age of 45 - 80, these women along with Eleonore, would act as the gatekeepers to Doradus. Every week they would commune with a spirit living in this in-between world who needs closure. Sometimes the ghost may be trying to right a wrong done to them in life, other times they simply want to reach out to a loved one, enemy or someone who had touched their life in some way, to help them set their path straight and offer enlightenment.

Of course, like Fantasy Island, it's not a smooth path, the person lured to Doradus (Eleonore's mansion) for that episode goes through quite a journey, even horrifying at times, but at the end of the episode they've learned more about themselves, life, love, the spirit who brought them there etc...  And interspersed throughout the season more would be revealed about the women of Doradus, and the life they once lived, flashback Lost style.

Okay, let me clarify, I may have interjected a bit more of my own vision for the show than what Fernando and I actually discussed. As you can see, I'm quite taken with this premise, it's the kind of show I'd like to watch, it's the kind of show I'd like to write!

Scarpa did says he plans to present a humorous side to the women of Doradus and create a camaraderie similar to that of The Golden Girls. He said ultimately he wants the audience to want to stay in Doradus rather than leave with the visitor.

Scarpa directing Demitri (Abubakr Ali)

My impression of Fernando was of someone with an infectious energy completely in love with storytelling, no matter the medium. Since graduating from the New School (NYC) he's been able to create a career in the industry which includes an impressive theater resume both in the States and abroad, and presently teaches filmmaking at UCLA.

Tinsel & Tine's talk with filmmaker Fernando J. Scarpa in Philadelphia also included the accomplishments of his students, his teaching style, why directing Romeo & Juliet (earlier this year at the Rossellini Theater in Los Angeles) was on his bucket list, film distribution, and how he met producer/lead Mara New, who seems absolutely favoloso.

Wish I could include it all, but I do hope you'll watch the second video (actual video) below where I ask our signature Philly food question.  I also love Fernando's response to this question: Although directors must be multi-taskers and multi-talented, I think most hone in on one area of their films more than others. Be it the technical aspects, creative shots, lighting and shadows, emphasis on actors/characters or story-telling... What is it for you?

Doradus is an Official Selection at both the Downtown Film Festival of Los Angeles (July 9-19) and the Los Angeles Fear and Fantasy Film Festival (Sept 5-9). To keep up with Doradus and the film/tv show's creator, be sure to follow

Comments are welcome on our facebook page for the post.

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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