The cast of Elliot Loves (I'm on the right - yippee!)
Thursday, August 16th - 5:30pm
Today was the day of the NYC premiere screening for Elliot Loves. I was SO excited to finally see this film. I was cast in it last year, and I have been quickly educated in the LONG amount of time it takes for an independent film to come to fruition. I was finally going to see it! I arrived at the NY International Latino Film Festival in Washington Heights - or as we say in Spanish "Gwash-eeng-tong Highz"!!! I didn't know what to expect, and I didn't even know how to dress. When I texted the director, Gary Terracino, I asked how should I dress. He texted back, "Something nice." Wow, lol, no clarification there. So when in doubt, ladies, wear a dress.
My best friend, Brenda, came with me...she knows how much this meant to me. And as soon as I parked my car, Terracino grabbed me so I could go on the red carpet and do interviews. Oh. Okay. I didn't know I was doing that. I had a very small part, so I didn't think I would be needed. The first thing the photographers asked me to do was take off my jacket. Huh? Why? I had on a very colorful long summer dress, with a cool necklace, paired with an orange jacket & small gold buttons. I HAD to be the most colorful girl there, lol...everyone else seemed to be in NYC appropriate night evening black. I couldn't, didn't want to remove my jacket. Know why? Shhh...come closer so I can whisper in your ear. Ready? The straps to the dress were too big & kept falling over. There was no time to change dresses or go back home so I kept it real & held them in the back with safety pins! LOL LOL LOL. Two things: #1 I didn't need them to see my cute silver safety pins and #2 no one needed to see my chichos. Chichos = love handles. So I kindly declined & one of the photographers heard me say they didn't need to see my chichos and he laughed out loud. It was a LOT of fun to stand there & here people say, "Judy, this way, please." It was also a lot of fun to be interviewed because you could feel the excitement in the air. One of the interviewers forgot my name, which I LOVED...it was hilarious! And because I've interviewed people on the radio - I know how hard it is to remember so much information so quickly. So I answered her questions and did what I could so she could feel comfortable. I figure if people really liked the interview they'll put two and two together. But by far, the best part was watching Terracino...He is a handsome, intelligent and extremely artistic man. He has all the makings of a fine filmmaker. One who, one day, I hope receives an academy award for best film one day!
7:35pm LATINO TIME -The movie was supposed to begin at 7pm. And I laughed inside because after all it was Dominican Night in NYC, the film was directed by a Dominican Latino, sponsored by HBO & Heineken...I just wasn't surprised they were running late. I discovered during the announcements that Elliot Loves took more than 4 years to come to life. The movie had been financially backed 4 times - and 4 times the businesses had gone out of business. And it was then I learned how DETERMINED Terracino and the producers had to be. I also recalled that while we were filming last year,they were asking for donations, etc...and I donated $1000. I also recalled that I was being paid only $100 for the day I filmed...and I didn't care. I just wanted to be part of it all. I wanted the experience, I loved the script, I loved the people and I wanted to know what being on set felt like. To this day, I have not been paid. No one knows...well, now they do, lol...but I don't want to be paid. Being in the film was a gift to me. To me, they did ME a favor, not vice-versa.
So the movie began, and I was immediately drawn in. It was the first time I saw a "gay" movie. In other words, the movie is about a boy named Elliot who happens to be gay. And while I see many reality shows with a gay character, I have never seen a movie where central character is gay - well at least, not since the movie Philadelphia. I remember the director, Terracino, telling the cast how he was "almost done with editing." But watching it all edited was a different story. I found myself relaxed and enthralled in it. I was laughing, I was FEELING, and surprisingly, at the end, I couldn't stop crying...but I'll tell you about that in a minute.
I was waiting to see where in the movie I was coming in. I noticed the scene had begun, and I nudged Brenda's knee, like 'This is it!' I was sitting next to Javier Rosa, the film's make-up artist, and his mother...they nudged me too. I was smiling. Oh! Wow! That's ME! HUGE! LOL...that's me on film...holy crap! The scene is a funny one and people were laughing out loud. And it felt damned good! I said one line and people laughed...I was glad. I only had three lines in the film...but who the hell cares!! LOL LOL. Oh, it was such a validation to feel the joy of knowing I can make people laugh & smile!
The movie goes back and forth between Elliot as a boy, and Elliot as a young man...and it goes back and forth between Elliot's flawed & dysfunctional relationship with his mother and how it affects his relationships in his search for love. The movie exceeded my expectations. It had REAL heart. It told a REAL story about what we all want: to laugh in life, to be noticed, to be validated, to be accepted and to be LOVED!! When the movie was over, I found myself overwhelmed with emotion. I was crying. Brenda was crying. We were all crying...even the Heineken and HBO people were crying. And when I got to my car & began the ride home with Brenda, I was STILL crying. And Brenda so eloquently understood my tears without my saying a word.
"Did you see that, my friend? Look, you played Madison Square Garden and now this! Did you ever think you would be in a movie? Chica, you have done AMAZING things in your life!! Don't you feel good?"
As I tried to speak through my tears, I replied, "Chica, I can't even speak! I mean, I knew the movie would be good but WOW! And to see my big face on the big screen, hahaha, it was an incredible feeling! And it just makes me want to do more! It's not that I'm not grateful, it just makes me realize that I want to do much, much more with my life! And to see my name on the credits!!!! Oh. My. God. How freaking awesome is that? Not only was my name on the credits, but I saw the credit that gave me the most pride: Judy Torres, Associate Producer!!"
Yes, that's right. I am an associate producer among many - but it was because I believed in the project, so I donated some funds - and so did SO many others! LOL. And it was a proud moment for me...not just being in the film but knowing that I invested in a movie that had substance - a film that meant something - that had life lessons intrinsic in its story!! I heard through the grapevine that HBO may be looking at the movie. I also understand that the film is being released in New York City for full viewing in October, AND will be released on Amazon.com as well in October! Elliot Loves represents the pure heart & desire for love, represents commitment & determination when people say no...you say YES! Elliot's motto in the film is "Keep it Cute, Papi!!" I really LOVE Elliot Loves!! And I hope you do too - in your life, keep it cute!
Check out the trailer