A Sacramento film's long shots
Stolen Moments director Elisabeth Nunziato talks sweat equity, Sacramento and finishing what she started
Elisabeth Nunziato had no clue what she was getting into when she agreed to direct Stolen Moments. Production started two-and-a-half years ago, and post-production could very well continue right up until the film premieres, she said.
“[Actress Danielle Moné Truitt] actually got pregnant and had her first child over the course of shooting, and she lives in Los Angeles,” said Nunziato of her film’s star and former B Street Theatre company member. “It was all on our dime the whole way and [required] an enormous amount of labor. It was all sweat equity.”
Here’s hoping the film is complete by the time it premieres at the Crest Theatre this Wednesday, September 11, as the opening-night selection of the Sacramento Film & Music Festival (see “Two cities, two film festivals,” SN&R Night&Day, page 21).
The self-proclaimed “no-budget” film, a comedy-drama that focuses on two intersecting romances, was produced and shot in Sacramento and features a handful of local actors and a soundtrack of music by area artists. It’s also Nunziato’s directorial debut. Nunziato, who grew up in New York and moved to Sacramento during high school, was a founding member of the B Street Theatre in 1991 and still acts there.
But for the now 20-year veteran of theater, film and voice acting, directing a film was both an accident and a learning process. It came about when she put together an impromptu reading of a script written by her acquaintance Maurice Robie.
“[This is] a love story about the universal difficulty of recognizing happiness,” Nunziato said. “You still haven’t shaken off those adolescent nagging-at-you kind of fears or anxieties that may have held you back so far. … And I lived that—in this town, at those specific places.”
So she brought together a group of actors around a table to read the script. Next, she approached Mike Malmberg (the film’s eventual director of photography and executive producer) to film a few of the actors performing several scenes, just to check out the chemistry. Then, Nunziato’s husband Jason Kuykendall joined the project as an actor, sound guy, producer, location scout, designer and post-production supervisor. Lynn Malmberg—Mike’s wife—also joined the project as another executive producer and editor.
And with that, Stolen Moments was born.
The end product pays homage to the city and people of Sacramento: Pivotal scenes take place in the Torch Club, outside of the Crest Theatre and throughout Midtown; local musicians Harley White Jr., Rick Estrin and Mike Farrell all have small acting roles, and the film’s soundtrack features the music of Lee Bob Watson, Atlas & Arrows, and Dave Christensen of K Sera.
“It evolved over time in many ways, and it was a very gestalt way to make a movie,” Nunziato said. “I don’t recommend it to anyone, [but] we’re so proud of everybody’s work.”