...there is no regular life

A film by Clayton Allis

2003 U.S.A. Color 84 mins.


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Check www.FALLINGthefilm.com for screening updates.

FALLING, the award-winning debut feature from New York writer/director Clayton Allis, pushes the boundaries of digital filmmaking with its rich visual aesthetic. The small, independent drama surprises with its lush look, further blurring the line between traditional film and digital video. The feature is a strong follow up to Allis’ much-lauded digital short :/RUN, which the New York Daily News called “a perfect illustration of the future of moviemaking.”

FALLING has been recognized with a string of honors, including: Best Feature, Audience Choice Award, Temecula Valley International Film Festival, Southern California; Best Feature, DNA Film Festival, Toronto; Best of New York, Queens International Film Festival; nominated for Best Director, Queens International Film Festival; Official Selection, Cinequest’s Viewer’s Voice. For screening and award updates and to see a trailer, visit www.FALLINGthefilm.com.

“Digital filmmaking has gone a long way towards leveling the playing field for directors like me with a story to tell but no film studio or mega budget to back us up,” says Allis. “Even five years ago, the technology was not as accessible. Now independent filmmakers can compete with the big guys at a high level of sophistication.”

Working much of the time on his home computer, Allis was able to give his small digital movie a big budget look. In contrast, many digital indies emulate “video” genres such as reality TV and documentaries to compensate for video’s poorer quality. In fact, Allis’ earlier effort :/RUN, which caught national attention for its fast-paced exploration of surveillance, was made intentionally grainy and crammed with multiple images on each screen. But with FALLING, the filmmaker decided on a traditionally crafted film aesthetic with no visual gimmicks—no jerky camera movements, quick cuts or visual effects—shifting the focus back to the story.

In FALLING, Allis offers a dark character study of a broken man’s search for himself, a family, and a semblance of a regular life. It is the story of a man who has to face the family and friends of the stranger who died saving him. The drama begins with a fall off a bridge, a chance rescue, and a tragic accident that triggers a journey of discovery and redemption.

While classic in its look, FALLING is very much indie in spirit. Allis shot the movie within a ten-block radius of his home in New York, relying on help from family, neighbors, local businesses, and friends from his years working as a gaffer in independent film. FALLING features the music of Serbian music star Zoran Bale Bulatovic.

For the complete press kit, and to see a trailer, visit www.FALLINGthefilm.com.

CONTACT: Magdalene Sim, mag@beanpictures.com
212-316-6554, 917-312-7671


Log Line

A man faces the family and friends of the stranger who died saving him.


Synopsis, in brief

There is no regular life

Not for Carl

Falling off a bridge…

Carl Lazarus is miraculously saved by a petty criminal who dies in his place

To repay the debt

Carl tries to be the perfect substitute husband and father to the dead man’s widow and son

Can Carl live someone else’s life better than his own?

Or will he lose sight of himself

and shatter the illusion of a regular life for all?


Synopsis, in depth

Can you live someone else’s life better?

Falling off a bridge, Carl Lazarus is miraculously saved by a stranger—a petty criminal named Paul Schoen who happened to be on the parkway below the bridge stealing a car. Paul pulls Carl to safety but slips and disappears into the murky waters. Shaken by this strange twist of fate, Carl decides that he owes a debt to the fallen Paul.

He searches out the dead man’s widow Marta, and young son Paul Jr., only to discover a less than appealing picture of his rescuer—although a good man at heart, Paul Schoen was not the perfect husband or father, but rather a dead beat petty thief who left behind a family unable to afford even his funeral. Sensing an opportunity to make amends, Carl offers to pay for the burial. But when he is fleeced, he learns a rough lesson about Marta’s uptown world.

Still, an unlikely relationship blossoms and Carl slowly steps deeper and deeper into Paul’s shoes. He begins to build an idealistic version of the regular life for Marta and Paul Jr., all the while ignoring the dark side that still haunts him. Only Roach, Paul’s friend, is suspicious of the too-good-to-be true Carl.

A local gang leader of sorts, Roach decides to see what Carl is made of. He offers Carl the chance to join his boys in a scheme to rob a local high stakes card game run by a gangster called Tito. Carl goes along for the wild ride and realizes that he has a taste for it. When he is found out and cast out of his Wall Street office, Carl heads uptown and begins doing "jobs" by himself. Marta soon discovers that Carl is more like her dead husband than she cares to admit. But the awful truth—that Carl had not fallen, but in fact had willfully jumped off the bridge that fateful night—is more than she can take. Stunned by the shattered illusion and the grief it will cause young Paul Jr., Marta sends Carl away.

For the first time, Carl realizes the immensity of his lost, and the consequences of his actions. When Tito suddenly reappears and shoots Roach, Carl runs to the only family he knows. A climatic showdown between Carl and Roach’s boys gives Carl one final chance at redemption. But can he overcome his own demons and finally repay the debt he owes to Marta and Paul Jr.? Or will Carl realize that there is no regular life, at least not for him?


Falling Back To Basics

In many ways, FALLING is an old fashioned sort of movie. We went back to basics—laying the story bare, letting the drama work through. That, we’ve come to realize, might be the greatest risk we are taking. Why? Because the independent feature today seems to be a genre on its own, with its own conventions. FALLING almost doesn’t seem indie enough. It is not quirky or shocking. It does not try to be slyly referential. There are no winks at the audience, and no "edgy" handheld camera moves. It is simply an in-depth character study with a steadily unfolding plot, supported with thorough performances and solid dialog.

From Video to Film

Visually, FALLING also lies closer to a "film" standard, even though we shot it digitally because of budget constraints. There is a school of thought that feels that movies shot in the digital format should fit themselves into the video aesthetic. As a result, some digital indie features are filled with jerky camera movements, stark lightning, grainy images, and an intentional rawness meant to emulate the feel of video documentaries and newsreels. But with FALLING we decided to go a different route, maintaining a carefully crafted aesthetic that supports the story and performances, but does not overwhelm it. We made sure the lighting was refined. Camera movements were nice and steady. The sets were designed with colors that enriched the look. And we spent a lot of time in post-production polishing and cleaning, trying our best to achieve the standard audiences today are used to seeing in Hollywood movies. In essence, we worked hard to make a "film" on video. We think you might be surprised at the richness of the visuals and the layers of the sound.

Kindness of Strangers, Friends, Family, and Neighbors

Still, FALLING is very much an independent effort and vision. We worked on a tight budget and relied on the kindness of strangers, friends, family, and neighbors at every turn.

We shot most of the movie within a ten-block radius of my home. We bought meals for the crew at neighborhood restaurants. The local garage owner let us shoot a few scenes in his shop. He also made an appearance in the movie, and even introduced us to his friend, who supplied the bar location. Our neighbors, including our son’s baby sitter and her family, were drawn in as extras. We found our excellent music composer, who lives across the street, because his then 3-year old daughter attended the same music class as my 2 year-old son. It turns out he used to be a rock star of sorts in the former Yugoslavia. What luck! And since I had worked as a gaffer on independent films for about eight years in New York City, I was lucky enough to be able to call on a revolving door of friends in the industry who dropped by whenever they could to help out.

And of cause, we have technology to thank. I would not have been able to make FALLING even a mere five years ago and get the quality of picture that I have been able to achieve today. I am grateful to be at the crossroads of this high-tech revolution that has enabled me to create a motion picture that can compete with the big boys. Thanks for watching and reading.



Clayton Allis’ last short film :/RUN captured attention for its innovative use of digital video and its fast-paced storyline about surveillance. The New York Daily News called :/RUN "terrific" and "a perfect illustration of the future of moviemaking," Film Threat and Time Out magazine offered praise, and the New York Times invited Clay to write about his moviemaking experience. Clay grew up in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. After graduation from the University of Pennsylvania, he spent two years in Ghana with the Peace Corps. He went to film school at Boston University and then moved to New York where he worked as a gaffer for independent film, television, commercials and music videos for nearly eight years. FALLING is Clay’s first feature. He is working on developing his other scripts, including a Western set in Africa that was inspired by his time there. He lives in New York City with his wife and three year-old son.


Key Cast Biographies

Malcolm Foster Smith


Better known as a New York theater actor, Malcolm Foster Smith was recently seen in the National Tour of Embedded, written and directed by Tim Robbins. New York City theater credits include the award-winning off-Broadway play The Exonerated, Lady/Speak/Easy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Salome, The L-Curse, Clinton's View, Detective Story, and the premiere of John Bishop's Legacies. He was the lead in A Lesson Before Dying at the Boston Area's New Repertory Theatre. Lead roles in festival-screened shorts and feature films include Alias: The Lost Episode, 20 Bucks and a Bag of Coke, Ophelia’s Opera, and the upcoming indie feature film God's Waiting List (dir. Duanne Adler). Television credits include Law & Order, Homicide: Life on the Street, Guiding Light, and America's Most Wanted.

Sean Souza


Sean Souza recently completed principal roles in the films Down at the Tracks and :/Run, which appeared at Forrest Whittaker’s 2003 NoDance digital film festival in Park City, Utah. Recent theater roles include Hanoch Levin's Murder, Shauna Kanter's Legacy, and Tina Howe's Pride's Crossing. On the regional stage, he was recently seen in Taming of the Shrew, Bus Stop, and States of Shock. Among his commercial credits are the Campaign for John Kerry, Time Warner cable, Road Runner highspeed online, and Amena cellular phones (Spain).

Jenna Martinez


Jenna Martinez makes her feature film debut in FALLING. Television experience includes commercial work for Nick.com, Burlington Coat Factory, Chuck E Cheese, and Ch.13 Ed-Online. Theater credits include the New York City premiere of John Bishop’s Legacies. She has also performed with various regional theaters on both the east and west coasts.

(in order of appearance)
Paul Sr. Ismael 'Izzy' Ruiz
Carl Lazarus Sean Souza
Manuel Armin Parsanejad
Estaban Jose Sanchez
Antonio Adel L. Morales
Paul Jr Dariusz M. Uczkowski
Marta Jenna Martinez
Roach Malcolm Foster Smith
Darla Krie Alden
Bartender Bill Kozy
Funeral guests/Neighbors Zeke Allis
Maria Alvarez
Margot Alvarez
Hipolita Bobe
Kimberly Bobe
Alex Flores
Yolanda Grant
Chris Grant
Angel L. Pardellas Jr.
Angel L. Pardellas Sr.
Evelyn Pardellas
Megan Mariah Pardellas
Office workers Tammy Dalton Brown
Atiya Hussain
Juanita Melanie Rivera
Bar patrons Stephen M. Davis
Efrain Diaz
Ben Greene
Theodros Kifiemamiam
Ruben Lacrete
Larry Ram
Mulugheta Sultan
Tito Mario Golden
Card Players Nadir A. Mateen
Arnold Sidney Jr.
Oscar Veleon
Carlos Ray Wasik
Garage Guys Amado Geronimo
Braulio Payano Jr.
Garage Guy w/gun David Roberto Wagenheim
Voice of Boss Allan Mirchin
Restaurant waiter Timothy Wersan
Restaurant Patrons Karl Christensen
Maria Mendez
Magdalene Sim
Kim Ski
Robert Wersan
Bicycle Riders Fode Bangoura
Kelly Troy Howard
Director Clayton Allis
Producers Magdalene Sim
Clayton Allis
Co-Producers Karl Christensen
Malachy McAllister
Jeannette Bastian
Calvin Bastian
Associate Producer Livia Christensen
Screenplay Clayton Allis
Story by Magdalene Sim
Director of Photography Lloyd Handwerker
Additional Photography Nicholas Blair
Line Producer Magdalene Sim
Editor Clayton Allis
Music Composer Zoran Bale Bulatovic
Sound Design Antonio Arroyo
Kevin Bowe
Production Designer Jory Adam
Scenic Alison Scowby
Set Decorator Chris Jahn
On Set Dresser Lauren Persico
On Set Dresser Brian Van Brunt
Costume Designer Hugo Redwood
Assistant Ward Billiesen
Key Hair/Make up Stayc St. Onge
Additional Hair/Make up Eber Zietsman
Assistant Director Joel Blanco
Continuity Livia Christensen
Sound Mixers Jonathan Parham
Robert Purvis
David Haddock
Boom Stephen Long
Brooke Montgomery
Electrics Stu Kauffman
Anwar Payne
Steve Becker
Justin Whitaker
Perry Unjang
Bart Grieb
Tevo Diaz
Grips Balint Pinczehelyi
Zach Zamboni
Shaka Burks
Mike Jackson
Joseph Paolini
Tim Marotta
Glenn Fishel
Luis Colon
Armorer Weapons Specialists
Production Assistant Carmen Cardenes
Locations Clayton Allis
Parking PA Donovan
Set Photographer Tat Leong
Production Advisor Joel Blanco
Legal Advisor Willow Sanchez
Online Facility GRS
Online Editor Rade Popovic
Sound Mix Cyclops Studios
Sound Engineer David Alvarez
Grip/Electric Equipment Northern Lights/Lightsmith
Peter Yolles Productions
Music Credits When I was born – Kevin Bowe
I did it like that – Amen
One in the chamber – Kevin Bowe
Desafinados como eu – German Bense
Since My Goodbye – Amen with Treason
USA – Akoya
Me La pego – Written Luis Abrejo, Performed Blondyman y la Banda
Standing with my peoples – K. Bowe
Me Voy A Pagar - Written Luis Abrejo, Performed Blondyman y la Banda featuring Don Capuina
Summertime – K. Bowe
Special Thanks to: Kate Curnow
Marguerita Choy
Ong Soh Chin
Special Thanks to: Larry Allis
Erica Berg
Felix Chen
Angela Ee
Molly FitzSimons
Pamela Johnson

Sim Huang Kiang
Matthew Sim
Karen Sim
Jeremiah SIm
Zachariah Sim
Yeap Luang Kiew
The Uczkowskis

The Childrens’ Aid Society/ Hammer Stevens and his team
Bar 1020
Big Apple Physical Therapy/Felicia Butts and Mario Nolasco
Bud and Fire Variety
Church of the Master
City of New York, Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting
Ecumenical Housing Development Corporation
The Heritage Network
Klasiko Sports bar
Metisse French Bistro
Morningside Heights Housing Cooperative
National Driving School
Noha Repair Shop
The Screen Actors Guild

#1: CARL (Sean Souza) on his way down

#3: ROACH (Malcolm Foster Smith)
confronts CARL (Sean Souza)

#2: MARTA (Jenna Martinez)
hanging on the stoop

#4: ESTEBAN (Jose Sanchez), MANUEL (Armin Parsanejad) and ANTONIO (Adel L. Morales) on the stoop

#5: The gang: ESTEBAN (Jose Sanchez), CARL (Sean Souza), ROACH (Malcolm Foster Smith) and MANUEL (Armin Parsanejad)

#6: Director Clayton Allis with his son Zeke

#7: Director of Photography Lloyd Handwerker

#8: Official poster

More images available upon request.