The Darien Arts Center is co-sponsoring a film-screening event at the Darien Library at 1441 Post Road on Sunday, June 8th at 2 p.m. The event will feature a locally produced short film, Mabel’s Dressing Room, about some of the antics and possibly historic events that went on in the dressing room of Mabel Normand, Hollywood’s first female director.
The film is written and produced by Rudy Cecera. Normand, often overlooked in film history, worked with several notable actors in the silent film era. Some of those she influenced included the then unknown Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle, one of the 1910’s most popular silent film stars, and Mack Sennett, innovator of slapstick.
The release of the film in 2014 will coincide with the 100th Anniversary of Normand becoming Hollywood's first female director in 1914 and the first time a woman yelled, “Cut!” behind a camera.
Most of Mabel Normand’s magic was conceived in her dressing room on the Keystone lot in Hollywood, where many of the Keystone crowd frequented for fun, support, a cold drink and a hot meal from the only stove on the movie lot.
Pies-in-the-face, pratfalls and other comedic devices still used today were most likely conceived "behind the door" where Mabel created comedy, laughs and even history.
Rudy Cecera lets us witness this early creative process first-hand in his short film about Normand playing host to some crazy clowns and beautiful “babes” in her dressing room.
Cecera filmed on location at the home of Ron Heinbaugh, a lifelong Darien resident and car collector who he met while working on a past DAC (darienarts.org) production of Mack and Mabel.
Heinbaugh’s vintage cars and red barn became perfect props for Cecera’s film about Normand who was also a silent movie actress and comedienne.
After securing some extras for the film locally, including Darien Arts Center volunteer Autumn Howard, Cecera and his cast and crew brought the Golden State of a century ago to the Constitution State of today and recreated the Keystone Studios, then dubbed, the “Fun Factory”.
Other locals involved in the making of the film include the film’s director and production designer Joe Polacik from Trumbull, CT.
Cecera has written for Jay Leno, David Letterman, and several TV spec scripts. He has also written material and appeared in Denis Leary’s Comedy Central satire "Contest Searchlight".
Cecera began his Mabel journey many years ago out of his interest in silent film. He plans to send his short to various festivals including Tribeca, as well as screen it at various venues in hopes of getting his feature length screenplay about Mabel produced.
"The world should know about Mabel...my dream is one day you'll be able to walk into a gift shop on Hollywood Boulevard and buy a Mabel Normand alarm clock!" quips Cecera.
An actual Normand film, Mabel’s Married Life will follow the screening with the total run time of both films about 35 minutes.
The screenings will be followed by a question and answer session with Cecera and copies of Mabel’s Dressing Room will be available.
For more information on the film please visit http://mabelsdressingroom.wordpress.com/ or call the Darien Library at (203) 655-1234.
Founded in 1975, the Darien Arts Center (DAC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing visual and performing arts programs and events for the community. The DAC offers educational programs in Dance, Visual Arts, Music & Theatre, & special events & live theatre performances by DAC Stage. Private donations, grants, tuition fees & ticket sales fund the DAC, which is located at 2 Renshaw Road, behind the Town Hall. For further information, call (203) 655-8683 or visit darienarts.org.