Backed By A-Listers, A Local Director Aims To See Movies Made on East Fourth

IMG_3106Jacob Sugarman Talia Lugacy speaks at FAB! Festival’s groundbreaking ceremony for 64 East Fourth Street.

Last month, as The Local noted, Fourth Arts Block broke ground on a new not-for-profit center at 64 East Fourth Street. Beginning next fall, the East Village can add film production to the building’s growing list of artistic enterprises. 64E4 Films is the brainchild of Paradise Factory founder Tom Noonan and his fellow board members, including luminaries such as Christopher Walken, Susan Sarandon and Charlie Kaufman. While Paradise Factory has produced films in the past, the group hopes to turn its building into a state-of-the-art film production and exhibition center using its own funds as well as nearly five million dollars in public funds it has raised with fellow non-profits Teatro Circulo and Teatro IATI.

Leading the venture is Brooklyn-born film director Talia Lugacy, who first began her business relationship with Mr. Noonan, 60, when she offered him a supporting role in her 2007 feature “Descent.”

Though he declined her invitation, Ms. Lugacy, 30, became a regular in his acting classes. “I kept on seeking his help [with the film],” she said. “Finally, when it was finished, we just kept working together. We’d do shorts and we’d write. I ended up taking over a lot of the workshops he was teaching.”

Ms. Lugacy knows how to stay persistent. At the age of 13, she decided she wanted to study film at the Tisch School of the Arts and committed herself to finishing high school as quickly as possible. Three years later, she had a diploma from Staten Island’s Susan E. Wagner High School and had enrolled at NYU as a full-time student. She is scheduled to begin her teaching career at Tisch this coming spring.

64E4 Films will help Paradise Factory’s collection of playwright and actors – some of them Obie Award winners – adapt their productions to the big screen. “We will develop films as we have over the years,” noted Mr. Noonan via e-mail, “through rehearsals and staged performance.” Ms. Lugacy added, “My hope is that this building will become a center for film. Not only will [movies] be made here, but they’ll premiere here as well.”

By her own admission, the production company is very much in its nascent stages of development. The studio is at least eighteen months away from completion and plans for its films’ distribution outside of New York City remain murky (Ms. Lugacy said she wanted to enlist a company like Netflix to make them available on demand or streaming online). While A-list stars Mark Ruffalo and Rosario Dawson have expressed interest in participating, she is reluctant to hold anyone to a firm commitment so long before 64E4 Films becomes operational.

Still, the possibilities remain tantalizing: the ingenuity of independent cinema and the intimacy of the theatrical experience, all under a single roof.