THE COW OF QUEENS
Updated: Nov 28, 2021
Producers Krista Parris (LUCKY GRANDMA and MADELINE'S MADELINE) and Neda Armian (Jonathan Demme's producer of 17 years) and I just finished our week of pitching THE COW OF QUEENS on zoom at Film Independent's FAST TRACK.
We had sixty incredible meetings in three days!
The journey continues! Rob Morgan (JUST MERCY, BULL, THIS IS US) recently joined the team to play the lead role of Del and also produce.
We continue to work with the brilliant casting director, Meredith Tucker (WHITE LOTUS) to cast the second lead.
You can read about my writing process with this script on Scott Myer's blog Go Into The Story
or check out my artistic statement below.
My dad was my best friend. He called me “Kate the Great” and “Little Shit” in the same sentence. When he got sick, I couldn’t leave his side. He didn’t want to go and we fought with everything we had right up to the end. Cancer is a dance between hope and acceptance. Hope powers you through the circus of pills and painful treatments. However, there’s a tipping point when hope becomes a form of denial and only creates more suffering. Here, acceptance is the only balm. But surrender too soon, and you’ll always wonder if you should’ve fought harder. My dad’s final days were a fight to the death. When it was all over I was haunted by the question, “When and how do you say goodbye?” Then I heard some neighbors talking about a cow that escaped a local slaughterhouse who spent the day evading the NYPD. Instantly, I found my answer. THE COW OF QUEENS re-imagines my dad and me, as a Don Quixote/Sancho Panza duo on a mission to right one last wrong. The adventure is a chance to say goodbye and accept the inevitable but also defy death because, damn, this cow is going to live.
Visually, the cinematography will express Del and Sonya’s shit-storm of absurd, sweet, and painful encounters. Placing the camera in the center of the action with multiple focal points and open framing will create an immersive three-dimensional feel and the sense that anything can happen.
Life at its edge feels operatic. When my dad was dying, a simple trip to CVS felt surreal. Colors became vibrant. Time moved at an uneven pace. I saw signs and interconnection everywhere. There was an undercurrent of love for humankind and a deep appreciation for the mundane magic of being alive. I want to film Queens from this heightened POV.
However, the performances and blocking will feel honest and grounded. The actors must feel authentic to Queens and I want to cast a mix of name actors, local professionals as well as non-traditional actors. Del and Sonya’s relationship is the center point of the movie and it should feel intimate, undefinable, and irreplaceable.
This film is a love letter to Queens, a big city that feels like a small town. It’s the kind of place where you know your neighbors and the person behind you in line will spot you if you forgot your wallet. The city is quirky, fun, and sparkling with culture. It is one of the most diverse places in the world, the perfect setting for a universal story about the interconnection of life and death. I hope to celebrate the city while soothing so many of us who have been sideswiped by loss.
The pandemic hit 2020 like a cancer diagnosis for our entire society. But the headlines that make me cry are not the ones about suffering but the ones about joy. I cling to stories of people who (despite everything) are determined to counter sadness with love and celebration. A school teacher wraps herself in a sheet of plastic to safely hug her depressed student. A quarantined accordion player performs a concerto on her balcony. An exhausted nurse is buoyed by the 7 PM cheer of New York City hanging out its windows. Similarly, THE COW OF QUEENS is a story about love and the ways we rally for each other when shit hits the fan. It’s about characters having fun in the midst of terrible pain. It’s about finding comedy in the middle of drama. The pandemic has ushered in a collective craving to connect and celebrate the best of humanity in the worst of times. If there’s one thing that’s always been true, light floods in to meet the darkness. THE COW OF QUEENS is set in that sublime moment of sunrise.