PALACE LIVING is a new drama about finding comedy in misery. The feature film was written and directed by Zack Ordynans, produced by Biljana Ilic, and stars Tom Roy, Rebecca Kush, Jason Daniel Siegel, and Alyssa Mann.
THE SHORT PITCH
When two 30-ish couples retreat from stressful lives in New York City to a crumbling resort in the Catskills, they find a new home filled with mysterious residents. As the friends adjust to a life of leisure, they change in unexpected ways.
The film began its festival run recently. See our Screenings page for more information.
If you want to stay up-to-date on the film’s progress, sign up for our newsletter by dropping us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with “subscribe” in the subject line. You can also stay in touch with us (and find production photos and discussions with the cast and crew) on our Facebook page. And check us out on Twitter.
Tom and Maria are in their early 30s, just married, and living in a tiny NYC apartment they can barely afford. When Tom loses his job, they realize they can’t pay the rent with Maria’s salary as a substitute teacher. Tom finds an apartment they can afford: a studio in an old resort in the Catskills. Maria isn’t excited about leaving the city, but the building looks like fun, and they don’t have a lot of options.
Meanwhile, their friends Ethan and Teresa are engaged. Teresa wants a break from her high-pressure career, and is ready to have kids. Ethan is a freelance designer, and he figures he can find freelance work upstate. They decide to join Tom and Maria in moving to The Palace.
After moving upstate, the couples spend time at the pool and poker room, bonding. They become friends with the quirky building residents, including someone who may or may not be a serial killer. There isn’t much to do, but doing nothing is half the point of being up there, right?
As summer turns to fall, Ethan struggles to get freelance work. Tom wins money at the poker table in the building’s card room, before moving on to more questionable deals. Teresa becomes increasingly desperate to have a baby, and takes her frustration out on Ethan. Maria, like Ethan, misses home and wants to go back to the city. As Maria and Ethan grow closer, the group dynamics reach their breaking point…
Two weeks ago, my wife gave birth to twin babies, and everything changed forever. It’s been a wonderful time, so miraculous that I’ve been forced to reevaluate my faith in a higher power. Also: it’s been harder to find time for Facebook.
As I begin this new stage, I can reflect on the way PALACE LIVING was influenced by the previous chapter—post-marriage, pre-kids, career at a crossroads. The conflict between talking about having kids, and wanting to be a kid yourself. Not to mention the issue of where to live, once you’ve decided to settle down.
Making those decisions during a tough economic climate isn’t easy. Forging an adult indentity is quite a challenge when jobs are scarce and financial motivations are often the primary factor in major life decisions. At heart, this is what PALACE LIVING is about: growing up and making tough decisions about the future–decisions that are often influenced by money.
Of course, it’s also a film about quirky retirees, forgotten old resorts and (SPOILER ALERT?) selling “special” brownies, which I still claim I’ve never done. I’ve also never moved from New York City to a small town–I rarely even leave for the weekend. So the film isn’t exactly auto-biographical. But I do see more clearly now how PALACE LIVING is a reflection of all my anxieties from the last few years.
This film has been a labor of love. I don’t expect the film and its themes to resonate with everyone. All I care about is that it means something to you.
New York, October 25, 2012
+ The film was shot in 24p HD with the Sony FS-100 camera
+ 2.35:1 aspect ratio
+ 83 minutes
+ PALACE LIVING was shot in a month, entirely in New York State. We primarily shot in Liberty, N.Y., but also filmed on location in the New York City area (Manhattan, Brooklyn, New City and Nyack).
+ During the upstate portion of the shoot, most of the crew was housed at Grandview Palace, which was also the film’s principal location. Many building residents appear in the film.
+ Unfortunately, Grandview Palace (formerly The Brown’s Hotel) burned to the ground in a fire several months after the PALACE LIVING shoot. Through the years, Brown’s hosted performances by Jerry Lewis, Woody Allen, George Burns, Bob Hope, Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Bennett and many others.
+ Zack Ordynans is a first-time feature director. He previously wrote the award-winning feature BURNING ANNIE, which is a loosely autobiographical story about college students obsessed with Woody Allen’s ANNIE HALL. BURNING ANNIE is available on DVD through a subsidiary of Warner Home Video.
+ Zack Ordynans and PALACE LIVING lead actor Tom Roy met while they were students at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. Tom has appeared in several of Zack’s previous projects, including student films.
+ PALACE LIVING has had an appplication approved for a tax credit from the New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and Television Development.
+ PALACE LIVING’s crew has an international feel, with representatives from six countries.
+ Like the characters in the film, the cast and crew couldn’t find many dining options in quiet Liberty, N.Y. In fact, almost every meal during the entire shoot was catered by the Liberty Diner… and on off-days upstate, the cast and crew often ate there as well.
THE 2010 TRAILER
PALACE LIVING was shot on location throughout New York, but the film’s primary location was in Liberty, N.Y., on the grounds of Grandview Palace in the Catskills. Grandview was originally known as The Browns Hotel (built 1944), one of the leading Catskills resorts in the post-war era. The Browns was home to the Jerry Lewis theater, the site of early performances by Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, and, of course, Jerry Lewis. Later on, the hotel would be featured in movies like LENNY, THE FRONT and DIRTY DANCING. And most recently, PALACE LIVING.
In April, 2012, a few months after PALACE LIVING finished shooting, Grandview Palace burned to the ground in a large fire. Luckily no one was hurt, but many residents were displaced and a once-thriving weekend community was lost. The film stands as a document of the building’s last days; a tribute to a building with a rich history, and to the people who helped make this film possible.