Drinking is fun, but it will never be as thrilling as drinking apple juice and pretending it’s a scotch after a long day. I think that’s growing up. The world isn’t sweet, it burns. —from the Perrone Brother’s debut feature film, Child of Woe
For many, the thrill of truly living lasts about as long as youth. Our protagonist, Jacob, has arrived at the juncture of college graduation where the real world beckons while the thrill stays behind. He nearly loses sight of it before finding that he has the power to hold onto it, even if only manifested in the pursuit. So often it is the lessons, heartbreaks, failures and disappointments which burn going down that make us appreciate the beauty of the most ordinary days. This is what we are capturing in Child of Woe.
Jacob Costa, our protagonists’ young adulthood is the epitome of putting a square peg through a round hole. He’s smart and funny, but his bad attitude often gets the best of him. He is an avatar for what many young adults of his (our) generation are feeling. He kicks around a small town that is both the place where he grew up and attended college. While his future isn’t calling him, it is difficult for him to find something in his past to cling on to. Torn between what people think of him and not caring for anything at all, Jacob spins his way into an endless rut. Those who surround him are either moving forwards or backwards, but Jacob feels more stationary than ever. He feels increasingly alienated from his closest friends, turned off by his girlfriend and alone with his broken family. He is on a career path he has chosen purely out of familiarity and dreads it every step of the way. Self-diagnosed as somebody who is disappointed in things before they begin, he hasn’t completely given up hope. There is something he yearns for, he just can’t put his finger on it. With humility, heartbreak and unexpected friendships as signposts, Jacob claws his way through a pressure cooker of a Texas summer towards what he is meant to do.
Painted as a hero who’s words must be heard, Jacob’s wit and inability to hold his tongue sometimes get him into trouble. He speaks for the millions of young people who have a voice in a world with too much noise to find an audience. Still he takes the road less traveled, defying expectation and pressure by following his dream. There is no promise that Jacob lives happily ever after, or even that he has a single success as a writer; the burn that comes along with doing what you love. The story teeters between the lightness of the antics of Jacob and his dumb friends, and the deep drama of the childhood trauma Jacob must eventually face. This coming-of-age knows when to make you laugh, and cry. Its sentimentality is happily married to its modern approach. Just as classic cinema has influenced our writing and characters, the midcentury architecture of our hometown and filming location of Denton, Texas perfectly captures the essence of Child of Woe. A town whose infrastructure hasn’t budged in seventy years, the influence of a new generation and art has slowly changed its color, much like Jacob is changed by his new friends and love for writing. The shooting locations we’ve chosen perfectly reflect the story. The town square that exudes the energy of the 1950s is a reminder of the familial and societal expectation of success that Jacob feels. The sweltering, stale heat reflecting off the curb of Don’s Furniture Depot is the oven in which Jacob slowly roasts, dying to escape. As the city goes to bed and the night life comes alive, Jacob is awakened to new possibilities and alternate paths.
We aim to reach those who are struggling with life decisions, especially those at the high-school or college age. The pressures that surround these seminal junctures are monumental and we’d like to undercut them. We want to offer a voice to those who feel isolated in fear of these decisions. We also want to offer this perspective to the parents of those who face these decisions. This genre lends itself to a young audience who look to art, stories and characters of this nature for answers.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
The Perrone Brothers are a writing and directing duo based in North Texas.
Michael Perrone is a graduate of New York University Tisch School of the Arts. While studying at Tisch, Michael directed Wallowing Tom, a drama short film. He also directed Private Lessons, his promising thesis film currently in post production and preparing for a festival run. Independent of NYU in 2022, Michael directed a science fiction short film titled Carbon with his brother and writing partner Samuel. Michael also practices special effects makeup and prop fabrication, as well as music, all of which influence his filmmaking. As a storyteller, he often focuses on the melancholy of his characters. In life and in his films, it is often sadness that gives a story flavor, and contrasts the blessing of joy.
Samuel is a graduate of the University of North Texas Mayborn School of Journalism. He got his start in the industry on shows such as 1883, Yellowstone and 1923. Working in the production, off production with special effects, and with the camera department he was able to learn the ins and outs of a large scale production. In 2022, he and his brother Michael wrote, directed and produced Carbon, which is currently in post-production. Earlier this year, he executive produced Private Lessons that his brother Michael directed, also in post-production. Refusing to avert his eyes from the beauty and the horror of the world, he aims to be the author of catharsis for his audience.
Together, Michael and Samuel founded Electric Fire Films. Heavily influenced by classic cinema, they are committed to crafting personal stories about interesting people and places that are often underutilized or overlooked by the masses.