Wow, October and November flew by in what seemed like the blink of an eye. We’re going to try to get new interviews and movie spotlights up as we head into the new year.
A couple months ago we had the pleasure of connecting with Mara Lesemann, the writer and producer of the independent film Detours. She shares with us details on how the film came together, the awesome cast, and the real road trip that they needed to take to bring the movie together.
I wrote and produced the road trip comedy Detours, which is my 2nd feature. Robert McCaskill directed, and Christopher Eadicicco was our director of photography. I knew from the beginning that I wanted Tara Westwood (The Grudge, Triggered) to play the daughter who’s moving to Florida and convinces her depressed, widowed dad (Carlo Fiorletta, Available) to drive south from NJ with her. Tara had a major supporting role in my first feature, Surviving Family, and I loved working with her. She traveled with me on several festival road trips for that movie, and after brainstorming with her for days, I asked her to also come on board as a producer. That turned out to be the smartest thing I could have done. Tara and our casting director, Caroline Sinclair, put together an amazing cast for a low-budget indie movie. It includes the amazing Richard Kind; the late great Paul Sorvino; multiple TONY award winner Michael Cerveris; Deirdre O’Connell, who won the 2022 TONY for Best Actress; NY stage and indie film standout Debargo Sanyal; and Vanessa Aspilla (Only Murders in the Building). We worked with indie musicians to create a fantastic soundtrack, including the closing credits song “Down the Road” by country music singer/songwriter Lane Turner.
Detours travels from New York City to Saint Petersburg, Florida with Jennifer Giraldi, a NY-based actress whose marriage has just ended and who has vowed to build a new life and a new career in Florida. It’s been two years since her mom- a successful writer- died suddenly and her dad is struggling with depression. Dan still has his late wife’s ashes in a coffee can in his kitchen because he can’t decide what to do with them. The father and daughter re-discover their shared joys while they examine their very different perspectives on the late mom (played in flashbacks by Kim Director). They both also dip their toes back into the dating pool, with humorous but sometimes contentious results.
We shot all the indoor scenes in New York City and New Jersey. Then we hit the road with a skeleton crew and shot the actual drive that Jennifer and Dan take in the movie. We went south on Route 95, cut east over to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, then continued south to Saint Petersburg, Florida. Our camera team did an amazing job. Most of the movie was shot on an Arri Alexa, but the road trip incorporates some scenes shot with a Go Pro from a moving car.
Detours takes place in the present, except for a few flashbacks to Jennifer’s childhood. We shot the movie in late summer and early fall of 2014, and it premiered at the 2016 Sunscreen Film Festival in Saint Petersburg, Florida. Introducing our movie in the city where the action hits a climax- a scene shot on a boat on Tampa Bay with help from Eckerd College’s student Search & Rescue Team- was great. I’ve worked with FilmHub to get the movie out to a range of streaming services, and that’s been a very good experience.
I love telling stories about families- the good, the bad, and the lies. My first feature was about alcoholism, mental illness, and suicide, so I wanted to look at the lighter but still very imperfect things that we all go through. Having full control of my projects is a joy, even though that comes with a (very!) tight budget.
Detours is currently streaming on Tubi, The Roku Channel, Plex, and Freevee.
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Learn more about the movie on its official website!