By Mollee Harper, Senior Editor
Georgia Film News gets a special sneak preview of the romantic-comedy ‘Divorce Party’ with a one-on-one with Film Producer Sunil Perkash. Divorce Party is an independent film that was re-scripted and shot on location in Savannah, Georgia in the fall of 2016. The film is 95% complete and in post-production with a tentative release for 2020.
During our time together, Perkash provides details about his start as a producer in the industry, and his recent work on ‘Divorce Party’. Perkash shares the film’s timeline, insights about his role as a producer, and feedback about his experience filming in Savannah, Georgia.
Divorce Party is a romantic comedy written by Lane Garrison and Mark Famiglietti. This independent film tells the story of a newly dumped divorcee who hires his former wedding planner to throw a “divorce party” to celebrate his return to single life after being left by his wife. The film stars Thomas Cocquerel as the main character, Matilda Lutz as his wedding and divorce party planner, and Claire Holt as Cocquerel’s ex-wife. Divorce Party was directed by Hughes William Thompson and is being produced by Sunil Perkash, Ryan Johnson, Martin Sprock and Paresh Ghelani.
Perkash shared, “I am an independent producer headquartered out of Los Angeles, but work all over the world. I am very involved in all of my movies”
“As a film producer, I select the script, coordinate the writing, directing and editing and find the right screenwriter. Then I worked on financing the project and developing the distribution strategy.”
“I graduated from Stanford and moved to LA and always knew I wanted to be in movies and produce. It’s all about having a great piece that someone else wants to finance. I got started by noticing great stories that no one wanted to produce and then started promoting those.”
“’Divorce Party’ is a little movie with big hopes.”
“The first draft of ‘Divorce Party’ was written quite some years ago. Every project has different lives. Initially, we were trying to produce more of a studio version. Then we rewrote the script as more of a dramatic comedy film. This was a big plus for the movie.”
“Martin Sprock and Paresh Ghelani are the financers and producers. I developed the script with the writers, Lane Garrison and Mark Famiglietti. We had some false starts with different directors in 2010-2012. This time last year, I met Will and loved his ideas about the movie.”
“Our director Will (Hughes William Thompson) is really talented and a brilliant director. We’ve become really good buddies; I helped nudge him into commercial. I think he will go very far in Hollywood. I can’t believe we made this for budget.”
While we were waiting for financing to close, we lost our lead actor. Then, we met Tom Cocquerel and were blown away with him.”
Perkash added, “We worked with Harry Holland of SouthCrest Bank. He helped co-finance the movie. We were able to take a loan to monetize the tax credits in advance to use those funds for production.”
“We shot the entire movie on location in Savannah during mid November over a period of 18 days. Savannah is a really user friendly location. We stayed in the historic district. It was a really lovely place to make movie.”
“This movie has a lot of heart and a lot of smarts to it. Think about it, someone planning a wedding-sized divorce party to be their next best day and to kick off the rest of their life. The main character played by Tom Cocquerel really has to confront himself in order to move forward; it is really about that journey.”
Perkash offered, “As a producer, you are looking for the right location and the right rebate. Wherever we end up, we want to use that city. If we end up in Savannah, we want to use Savannah verses pretending we are in another city. Sometimes films shot on location pretending to be in a different place come off as disingenuous.”
“The entire movie was filmed in Savannah. It is a beautiful love letter to Savannah not like any other. We really did utilize the full location. We love working in areas with rebates. I think we did a great job to reset the film in Savannah and shot in Forsyth Park, the Historic District, by the River, Collins Quarters, and even Heard Elementary School. We really took advantage of all cool locations throughout the city.”
“Weirdly what I liked about Savannah is it is southern but not as southern as I thought it would be. About half of the people that I met weren’t from the area. It was a much more cosmopolitan city than I had imagined.”
“We really did utilize the locations as a beautiful backdrop to our movie. Even the opening displays the ‘Welcome to Savannah Airport’ sign.”
Perkash explained, “We are in process now of figuring out distribution. We’re finishing the film and are about 95% complete now. Then we will sit down and figure out the best distribution channels for us including film festivals. We will be looking at all of that after our screening and will formulate our strategy from there.”
“We feel like this is a little film, with a big potential and are looking at all options now.”
“Savannah is a film-friendly town. We had a few small problems with caterers and some support, but overall our experience was really good.”
“There were a lot of hotels that wouldn’t give us good rates over the weekend. The Andaz Savannah graciously accommodated us. John Cusack, JJ Abrams, and others from the industry stayed there. The Andaz Savannah seemed to understand the advantages of having a movie producer there. We spent a lot of money at the hotel. Their bar was our lounge and meeting space for five weeks.”
“We had a great time in Savannah, and hope to do more films there in the future.”
Sunil Perkash is an independent film producer and writer based out of Los Angeles, California most known for Salt (2010), Enchanted (2007) and Premonition (2007). He received his B.A. in economics and communications from Stanford University and started into the business in 1991 working as the US Production Coordinator on CRONOS, Guillemo Del Toro’s directorial debut.
Perkash established his own production company and began working with young writers, developing their scripts and setting up projects to develop at all the major studios including: Second Defense with Arnold Kopelson, Exit Zero with Renny Harlin and Second Time Around at with Dreamworks, Suburban Hero with Scott Rudin at Paramount, amongst others. In 1999, he received his first “greenlight” for BLAST FROM THE PAST, starring Brendon Frasier, Alicia Silverstone, Sissy Spacek and Christopher Walken.
Perkash learned the ins and outs of all aspects of the production as well as creating a profitable film for New Line Cinema. In the decade following, he produced three additional major motion pictures, each of which he developed from inception as spec script and was actively involved in all aspects of script development, casting, production, and marketing of each of these. The first, Premonition, starred Sandy Bullock and was a massive hit given its small $18 million budget, grossing more that $85 million worldwide. Next, he produced Enchanted helping convince Disney to cast a then unknown Amy Adams, and seeing the modestly budgeted film become a worldwide mega blockbuster grossing $340 million (with a $75 million budget) and receiving rave reviews and numerous awards, including multiple Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. In 2009, he began principal photography on Salt, a vehicle originally developed for Tom Cruise, but transformed into a female lead for Angelina Jolie. The film also became a worldwide blockbuster in summer of 2010, grossing $300 million.
Perkash is currently in preproduction on Timeless with Hyde Park Financing and developing sequels to Salt at Sony and Enchanted at Disney. He is also arranging independent financing for The Divorce Party with the award-winning music video and commercial director Jon Augustavo.
The Wrap recently listed Sunil in their exclusive list “Producers Who Are Making a Mark on Hollywood” and Fade In Magazine just named him on of the “Top 100 people to know in Hollywood.”
This guy was awesome…really down to earth ..
This is an expressive movie to reach the souls of persons who have felt the sting and emotions of divorce….with the input of Ryan Johnson, this movie is destined for sheer success. ….Laszlo Bedegi, filmmaker. ….