The news of an A-list star like Johnny Depp joining a new film always makes headlines, but this time around, the beloved actor is taking on a new film project for an incredibly worthy cause. The star is just one of many notable actors and filmmakers who came aboard a new horror short film entitled The Black Ghiandola, written by a teenager named Anthony Conti who is living with Stage 4 cancer, as part of an initiative through the Make a Film Foundation. Today we have photos from the set and new details about the project.
The Hollywood Reporter explains that 16-year-old Anthony Conti is suffering from stage IV adrenal cortical cancer. He teamed up with the Make a Film Foundation to get his horror short film off the ground, attracting actors like J.K. Simmons, Laura Dern, Penelope Ann Miller, Richard Chamberlain, Jade Pettyjohn, Chad Coleman, Pritesh Shah and Keith Allan, with filmmaker David Lynch even starring in an on-screen role. Anthony Conti wrote the film with Scott Kosar (The Crazies, The Texas Chainsaw Masscare) and Wash Westmoreland (Still Alice, with filmmakers Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead), Catherine Hardwick (Twilight) and Ted Melfi (St. Vincent) taking turns behind the camera over the five-day shoot. Here's what Make a Film Foundation founder Tamika Lamison had to say about Anthony Conti in a statement.
"Anthony is an alchemist - there was magic happening all around the set. It was like a magnet that kept attracting the best in so many people and attracting the extraordinary 'yes' at every turn."
The Black Ghiandola centers on a young man, played by Anthony Conti, who risks his life to save the girl he loves, after his family is wiped out during a zombie apocalypse. Anthony Conti actually discovered the Make a Film Foundation on his own, contacting the organization to request a copy of one of their previous films, entitled The Magic Bracelet. He had hoped to collaborate with the organization on his own film. Those plans began to take shape when his child care specialist informed Tamika Lamison that Anthony Conti was forced to pull out of a summer film camp after he was diagnosed with stage IV adrenal cortical cancer back in July. While most of their projects take a year to fully plan out, The Black Ghiandola went from conception to principal photography in just one month. Here's what Tamika Lamison added about this brave young filmmaker.
"His film has nothing to do with cancer. It's him making his film, his way. What I love about Anthony is his courage, his sense of humor, his profound sense of self, his huge heart and intensity as a human being and a filmmaker. We are all better for having Anthony Conti invite us to be a part of his life and his film."
The short film also received support from a number of organizations throughout the Hollywood community. Teamsters Local 399 drivers, Star Waggons, Wooden Nickel, Panavision, AMPAS, AMC, The Walking Dead, L.A. Grips, Plan U Prods., St. Joseph's Hospital, Big Sky Ranch, Friar Tux, Nature's Bakery, Gala Minasova's Picture Car, Western Costumes, Essential Water, Cinepower & Light, Avon, Galpin, Quixote Rentals, Zio Rentals, Durable Medical Equipment Aid Society, Enterprise, Alex's Catering, Skye Props, Boston Mass General, Bear Creek Restrooms, Ruskin Theatre, Constantine FX, Bloodlust Unlimited, MovieInsure, Domino's, Starbucks, Warner Bros., and Anthony's father, Brian Conti, and grandmother, Anita King all helped contribute to this special project.
Part of his Make a Film Foundation experience also included an Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences experience, which included a screening of his previous short film entitled Twinkle, Twinkle at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater. That screening included a surprise video shout-out from the cast of AMC's hit zombie series The Walking Dead. Take a look at the photos below from the set of The Black Ghiandola below.