Westport native films ‘Amateur Night’ for big screen
WESTPORT — Lisa Addario, a former Westport resident, and her husband, Joe Syracuse, have crafted a new film due out this summer. Called “Amateur Night,” it’s about a quirky job Syracuse once held — driving hookers around Los Angeles. “It’s sort of ‘After Hours’ meets ‘Risky Business,’ but with a feminist slant,” Addario said.
The movie stars Jason Biggs (“American Pie,” “Orange Is the New Black”), and his real-life wife Jenny Mollen-Biggs, and Ashley Tisdale (“High School Musical”). The movie was purchased by the distributor Cinedigm and will be released in cities across the U.S. and around the world in August, followed two weeks later by a video on demand release, according to Addario.
“ ‘Amateur Night’ is a fun, refreshing comedy, but it also has so much heart, which makes it exactly the kind of off-beat, original indie film that Cinedigm is proud to champion,” Yolanda Macias, Cinedigm’s EVP of Acquisitions told the Hollywood publication, The Wrap. “We couldn’t be more excited to be working with this talented filmmaking team,” Macias said.
Addario isn’t new to filmmaking — she and her husband have been writing for Hollywood studios for years. Their credits include “Parental Guidance” with Billy Crystal and Bette Midler, “Surf’s Up.” an animated movie, and they are currently working on a movie starring Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton for Netflix.
“We made a really good living ultimately writing for studios, but since we moved here 20 years ago, we’ve been trying to get our own babies made,” Addario said, referring to the independent films they’ve collaborated on.
If the name Addario is familiar to Westporters, Lisa Addario is the sister of Lynsey Addario, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist and the author of a memoir, “It’s What I Do.” Lisa Addario is a 1986 graduate of Staples High School and a graduate of Connecticut College, where she met her husband. The couple made a series of short films when they lived in Connecticut, but moved to Los Angeles in 2000 to have more opportunity to write for the film industry, she said. The opportunities to write and direct their own films were few and far between, but a lot of writing on films for other studios was offered.
“We’ve been writing and trying to make movies forever,” Addario said of the couple’s collaboration on this and other film projects. “This is the one that went first. The idea sold, I think, because it had hookers in it.”
Syracuse really had a driver’s job, whose clients included prostitutes, when Addario was pregnant with their first child, now a teenager. “He did it for 10 months,” she said.
“Amateur Night” with its $1 million budget is considered a small movie, she added. But they hope to sell “Coup d’Etat,” another movie they’re currently working on soon. “Coup d’Etat” stars Michael Caine and Ana Ferris, and is about a Caribbean Island dictator who has a pen pal relationship with a teenage girl. When the dictator is overthrown, he shows up at her garage. Addario and Syracuse were able to attract bigger investors for that film, which has a $6.7 million budget, she said.
Addario and Syracuse know the filmmaking business has ups and downs, but they’re always ready for a new project, she said. “There’s always a carrot somewhere — we always have six projects going at once. It’s an adrenaline rush,” she said.
“We like being inspired to tell stories that we like and want to share. That’s the biggest thing — to be able to share stories that are universal.”