User:Muhammad Ali Khalid/sandbox

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

John Gray (born in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York) is an American writer, director, producer based in New York. He is most known for directing Ghost Whisperer. He has also written and directed many movies for television, including the remake of the 1976 telefilm Helter Skelter, Martin and Lewis, The Hunley, The Day Lincoln Was Shot.

Gray has written and directed feature movies as well.


He recently directed the ABC original series Empire which starred Santiago Cabrera. In 2011 he directed an as-yet-untitled film about 1920's immigrants in New York with filming done in Ellis Island, Manhattan, and The Bronx.


Year Title Notes
1989 When He's Not a Stranger Director
1990 The Lost Capone Director
1992 An American Story Director
1998 The Day Lincoln Was Shot Director
1999 The Hunley Director
2001 The Seventh Stream Director, writer, co-executive producer
2002 Martin and Lewis Director, writer
2004 Helter Skelter Director, writer
2005-2010 Ghost Whisperer Director, writer, producer
2010 White Irish Drinkers Director, producer, writer
2014 Reckless (TV series) Executive co-producer

External links[edit]

DEFAULTSORT:Gray, John Category:American film directors Category:American film producers Category:American male screenwriters Category:American television directors Category:American television producers Category:American television writers Category:Living people Category:People from Brooklyn Category:Year of birth missing (living people) Category:Ghost Whisperer Category:Male television writers

Ian Sander produced Gray’s first TV movie, 1989’s When He’s Not a Stranger. Around the same time, Sander met Kim Moses, who worked across the hall at Don Ohlmeyer Productions, and was “instantly smitten,” he says. The New York-based Gray took the idea to Sander-Moses, which has a deal at Touchstone Television, and CBS scooped up the show. John Gray: CBS had become aware of a woman in Cleveland named Mary Ann Winkowski, who is the real-life Melinda. They called and said, “Had you ever thought about doing a series?” And I really hadn’t. But I was kind of intrigued and they let me go meet Mary Ann. Just sitting with her for 10 minutes, I got so many story ideas and I got really, really excited about it. Kim and Ian are among my oldest friends, so I went to them and just sort of laid this out to them. Showrunner Series-Ghost Whisperer-Producer John Gray-Ian Sander-Kim Moses

Gray copyIn 2004 I was happily toiling away writing and directing fairly high-end movies for broadcast and cable. Many of those movies and miniseries were done for CBS. I had no thoughts about or even desire to do series – I loved the nomadic life of movies, where I could immerse myself in a world and a location for 4 or 5 months and then on to some completely different world and location.One day, a CBS executive called to ask if I would be interested in a series idea, about a woman she had met through famed psychic James Van Praagh. This woman, known as Mary Ann, could, according to Van Praagh, see the spirits of the dead who had not crossed over. In fact she could help them cross over. If you were dead and had crossed over, she couldn’t see you – but if were dead and still hanging around, she couldn’t miss you. My producing partners, Ian Sander and Kim Moses, and I spent about a month or so shaping and developing the show. My feeling was to center it on a normal young woman, just starting out, who, in spite of this gift (curse?) of being able to deal with the dead, is just trying to have a life, get married, start a business, like anyone else. Tales from the trenches: John Gray pitches ‘Ghost Whisperer’

According to the Brooklyn-born writer and director John Gray, setting his film "White Irish Drinkers" in the mid-'70s Bay Ridge of his youth and shooting it in the same neighborhood 35 years later offered one immediate practical hurdle. The son of an iron-worker father and a mother employed by the city Department of Welfare, Mr. Gray called Bay Ridge home until his early 20s. The script to "White Irish Drinkers," an alternately sentimental and harrowing coming-of-age saga that opens in the city on March 25, has, he said, been gestating for more than a decade. As creator and executive producer of the CBS series "Ghost Whisperer," Mr. Gray was able to save the necessary money to finance the film himself while consolidating production contacts and professional loyalties formed over decades of work in series television and TV movies. So, in a way, did Mr. Gray. The mid-'70s Bay Ridge that is re-created in "White Irish Drinkers" hosted film crews shooting "Saturday Night Fever" and portions of "The French Connection," and Mr. Gray recalled a chance encounter with a movie-set transformation in Park Slope with particular fondness. Channeling Bay Ridge Past

Notwithstanding CBS’ bloodthirsty preoccupation with presenting notorious killers each May sweeps (Hitler last year, Manson now, and — what? — “Stalin: His Boyhood Years” in 2005?), writer-director John Gray (“Martin and Lewis”) has crafted a taut, unsettling portrait powered by a topnotch cast. Jeremy Davies probably should have consulted Steve Railsback, star of the original “Helter Skelter,” about career options for playing anything other than a lunatic post-Manson, but he nevertheless delivers a dazzling, wild-eyed performance that plumbs deeper into the strange control the cult figure exercised over his “family.” Gray spends just enough time with Manson’s victims — including the LaBiancas and pregnant actress Tate (Whitney Dylan) — to humanize them as people before they become crime-scene photos. Even tightly edited, the killings remain grisly, with the most detailed reenactment coming in the pic’s final hour during the trial — a savvy decision, given content concerns and the 8 p.m. start time. Review: ‘Helter Skelter’

John Gray, writer-director of "Helter Skelter," said Friday that it was not unusual for a network to order trims of particularly explicit scenes. But CBS' recent imbroglios have likely given the network a heightened sensitivity to controversial material.

"From the time that CBS ordered the movie, things have changed a lot," Gray said. "They've been beaten up pretty badly."

Gray -- a well-known TV-movie director who made last season's "Martin and Lewis" movie for CBS -- added that he did not yet know exactly which scenes the network wanted trimmed. Gray said he was headed back into the editing room on Friday afternoon to begin working on the changes CBS requested. However, he'll resist any attempt to cut the gore entirely, he said.

"I know there is concern about the violence, [but] we're trying hard not to lose that because we feel it's not gratuitous," he said, adding that Manson has over time been twisted by some people into a sort of cult hero. "It's important to show the victims, how these people suffered.... I'm hoping they'll see the value of portraying this realistically."

CBS ahead of curve on 'Helter'

Creator of the CBS television series Ghost Whisperer, writer and director John Gray’s new movie has been described as an emotionally charged coming of age drama. “White Irish Drinkers” is based on his childhood memories of growing up in working class Brooklyn."It's a personal story I couldn't let go of." Gray told the LA Times. Gray wrote the script over a decade ago but after he failed to get backing for the project the director decided to fund the production himself. Set in the 1970’s in Bay Ridge Brooklyn the film is a semi-autobiographical tale that explores the lives of two brothers’ 18 year old Brian and his older brother Danny. The movie follows the siblings as they try to make it on the streets and deal with their abusive Irish Catholic father and a long suffering mother. Gray’s low budget film was shot over 17days last November. His wealth of experience in the industry gave him a keen advantage compared to other independent film-makers. "Eighty percent of people in this situation, it's their first time," Gray said of the process of shooting that first indie. "I had the great advantage of making lots of TV movies and I used that experience" Gray’s most notable work includes hit series the Ghost Whisperer. In 2004 his was nominated for an Emmy for his work on the Mansion Family drama Helter Skelter, which he adapted from the book by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry. “White Irish Drinkers” was featured at the International Toronto film festival earlier this week. New film 'White Irish Drinkers' inspired by childhood amidst Irish community

As good as Nick Thurston is, he’s not enough to save the film from director John Gray TV director John Gray shoots from the heart with “White Irish Drinkers,” a coming-of-age drama set in the filmmaker’s native Brooklyn during the 1970’s. The milieu is a working-class neighborhood where high school grads chase sanitation jobs that pay a whopping $9,000 a year, plus benefits. The cast is the Lear family of four: Paddy, a brutal dockworker given to drunken bouts of rage; Margaret, his put-upon wife; Danny, a street punk; and black sheep Brian, a sensitive artist. A recent high school graduate with no direction, Brian is at a crossroads. To escape his father’s angry outbursts, he slips into the basement where he secretly draws pictures of city scenes. One day, the theater where he works as an usher unexpectedly books the Rolling Stones for one night only. When Brian’s hot-headed older brother, Danny, finds out, he tries to use Brian to rob the joint and take off with the money. Brian must choose between his big brother, who shielded him from his father’s angry fists, and his employer, a kind, old theater owner; a surrogate dad. Oh, and did I mention he’s an artist? Much is made of this point, such as when he draws a portrait of a girl in the condensation on a barroom window. Conversation stops as everyone turns to admire Brian’s work. It’s meant to be an affecting moment, a sensual come-on, and it plays like a Budweiser commercial on Valentine’s Day. We are meant to be drawn to Brian because he’s sensitive, artistic and good. We are meant to be repelled by his father because he is bitter, violent and bad. Such polemics undercut the emotional truth of “White Irish Drinkers,” leaving it with little dramatic punch. Stephen Lang (“Avatar”) plays Paddy Leary with menacing stature and a stone-cold conscience. It is an effective performance but the role is one-dimensional, and despite his crying at a funeral and a drunken anecdote or two, he is an ogre and little more. Karen Allen is subtle and effective as Brian’s mother; a fine performance in a likewise one-dimensional supporting part. She experiences an epiphany when she discovers what Brian has been doing in the basement day after day. When she gives him a paint kit a few scenes later, what is meant to be an uplifting moment plays as stale and saccharine. Geoff Wigdor, as big brother Danny, is a chip off the old block; as pugnacious as his old man. It is a pivotal role and Wigdor swings for the fence, but grounds out with a scenery-chewing portrayal. A soap opera veteran, Wigdor shamelessly bellows in a Brooklyn accent and struts around like a “Lords of Flatbush” reject. His scenes with Nick Thurston, as Brian, seem out of synch as the two actors never find the right chemistry for what is essentially the heart of the film. Thurston, however, is a strong anchor to the cast, firmly holding down what is essentially a TV movie plagued by simplistic moralizing and wafer-thin caricatures. As good as Thurston is, he’s not enough to save the film from director John Gray. His movie feels of a time and place, in this case Brooklyn in the seventies, and his characters sometimes even sound like real people. But whatever genuine emotion there might have been in “White Irish Drinkers” feels washed away in clichés and cheap sentiment. ‘White Irish Drinkers’ Feels Washed Away in Clichés and Cheap Sentiment

Many thanks to Melanie Votaw, a Brooklyn-based writer and photographer, for today’s guest post on Nick Thurston, star of the film ‘White Irish Drinkers,’ currently in theaters and scoring big at film festivals. The film snagged the audience award for best narrative feature at the Woodstock Film Festival and was the official selection for the Toronto International Film Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival and many others. Vanity Fair’s David Friend calls ‘White Irish Drinkers’ “a raucous, touching, vital hard-knocks family drama that offers an exquisitely written script, a series of plot twists, and a medley of spot-on performances from young talents Nick Thurston (right out of U.S.C.) and Geoffrey Wigdor, along with seasoned screen eminences Karen Allen, Stephen Lang, and Peter Riegert.” ————————————– If you haven’t heard of Nick Thurston yet, a lot of people are betting that you will – and soon. He stars in the new indie film, ‘White Irish Drinkers,’ written and directed by John Gray, the creator of the hit TV series, ‘[amazon_link id=”B003VJTGNO” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Ghost Whisperer[/amazon_link].’ I spoke with Gray and Thurston about the film and what’s up next for the up-and-coming actor. Nick Thurston and Leslie Murphy of White Irish DrinkersThurston, 23 (pictured, with cast mate Leslie Murphy at the premiere), was one of the first to audition for the film. He had already been cast in ‘Ghost Whisperer,’ but Gray was unaware of this because the actor appeared only as a fleeting apparition in an episode Gray didn’t direct. Nevertheless, Thurston’s “haunting quality” – no pun intended – caught Gray’s eye as perfect for the lead role of Brian in ‘White Irish Drinkers.’ “He had this thing that I really love in actors that’s sort of like, ‘I’ve got a secret.’ And I just knew that the camera was going to love those eyes,” Gray says, referring to Thurston’s enormous baby blues. Still, the casting team kept looking, convinced they shouldn’t choose one of the first hopefuls to walk in the door. “Finally, we just thought, ‘Nick is really the guy. He always has been the guy,’” Gray remembers. Meanwhile, Thurston had written off the possibility of getting the job and continued auditioning for other roles. When the phone rang at his Berkeley, California home months later and his manager asked, “Do you have cold weather gear for New York? Brooklyn is pretty cold in October,” Thurston responded with, “I’ll bet it is. Why?” The next thing he knew, the actor was on the streets of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, playing the lead in ‘White Irish Drinkers’ alongside veteran actors Karen Allen, Stephen Lang, and Peter Riegert. Thurston plays an 18-year-old in 1975 who endures an alcoholic, abusive father and a brother who tries to pull him into crime, while he hides his secret desire – to become an artist. The low budget coming-of-age tale is based loosely on John Gray’s experiences growing up in Bay Ridge and was a labor of love for the writer/director. Stephen Lang, John Gray, Nick Thurston, White Irish Drinkers Stephen Lang, John Gray and Nick Thurston on the set of 'White Irish Drinkers' The 17-day shooting schedule was fast and grueling, and Thurston appears in nearly every scene, which he likens to having a knock-down drag-out argument with someone you love for a solid month. The emotional intensity was exhausting, but Thurston loves that kind of challenge and the opportunity for self-discovery. “As much as I’m acting as a performance for the people who are going to be watching it, I also am doing it because it teaches me a lot about myself,” he says. Thurston may be at the start of his career, but he has already had a chance to show some range in the kinds of intense roles he loves. He starred in ‘The Lake,’ Jason Priestley’s online teen drama for (buy it on [amazon_link id=”B002L6IJZY” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Amazon[/amazon_link]), he played the abusive boyfriend in Lifetime TV’s heavily promoted October 2010 film, ‘Reviving Ophelia,’ and he plays the lead in the MTV film, ‘The Truth Below,’ which will debut on July 3, 2011. ‘The Truth Below’ is about four young people on a ski trip who become trapped in their car under an avalanche. White Irish Drinkers, Nick Thurston Nick Thurston on the set of 'White Irish Drinkers' Thurston also appears to be a heartthrob in the making. After seeing ‘White Irish Drinkers,’ a female fan posted a video on YouTube titled ‘Thirsty for Thurston.’ This prompted another girl to respond with a video of her own which said, in essence, “Back off – he’s mine!” Heartthrob or not, Thurston takes his craft seriously. A recent theater graduate of the University of Southern California, he also studied for five months at the British American Drama Academy in London, where he played Edmund in a production of ‘King Lear.’ “I’d never done a full Shakespeare piece before and got to work with a woman named Kelly Hunter, who’s a veteran of the Royal Shakespeare Company, so that was just fantastic,” he says. (While we talked, he treated me to a theater story in a perfect British accent.)

Thurston also spent two weeks volunteering at a refugee camp in Haiti for the J/P Haitian Relief Organization founded by Sean Penn. He slept in a tent and did everything from carrying sand bags to working on generators. “It’s one of those situations where you’re really outside your comfort zone, and you have to do whatever is asked of you,” he says. The experience gave him perspective and gratitude for the simple things we take for granted in the U.S. but which are in short supply in the third world, like food, running water, and electricity. “It forced me to find strengths in myself that I didn’t previously know even existed,” he says. Besides his humanitarian pursuits, Thurston is also an animal lover who currently cares for two rescues – a squirrel and a field mouse. ‘White Irish Drinkers’ has opened up new possibilities for Thurston in the industry. If the critics are right, it’s only a matter of time before he becomes a household name, especially since he’s willing to “work hard and dig deep” according to Gray. “What I loved about Nick, apart from his talent,” Gray says, “was his incredible professionalism.”

Visit the ‘White Irish Drinkers’ Web site to learn more about the film and see when it’s playing in your area. ‘Reviving Ophelia’ is available on iTunes and [amazon_link id=”B004MCGNRQ” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Amazon[/amazon_link], and occasionally re-airs on Lifetime TV. Both movies are expected to be released on DVD this summer. ‘The Truth Below’ airs on MTV on July 3, and the trailer can be viewed on Melanie Votaw ‘White Irish Drinkers’ is rated R for pervasive language, some sexuality and violence; in theaters March 25, 2011; 109 min.; directed by John Gray; Screen Media Films. Melanie Votaw is a freelance writer and photographer based in Brooklyn, New York and the author of 11 non-fiction books. Visit her Web site, and follow her on Twitter. Exclusive Interview: Nick Thurston and John Gray of White Irish Drinkers

Peter Riegert & John Gray (White Irish Drinkers) Interview

This year, the Irish Film Festival - aka The Craic Festival - will premiere John Gray's "White Irish Drinkers," a tough, gritty Irish-American family and crime drama set in his native Bay Ridge.

Gray wrote the script 10 years ago but no Hollywood studio would make it because the personal story Gray wanted to tell was about real people in the blue-collar, Irish-American world of Bay Ridge circa 1975, where his main character, Brian Leary, played by Nick Thurston, is a sensitive teenage artist who keeps getting drawn into his older brother's life of crime.

"I had studio executives tell me they loved the script, that it made them cry, and they told me it would get made," he says. "But just not by them. Many people liked the writing. It helped get me work. I wrote and directed TV movies and some features. And then I was lucky enough to have a TV series that got on the air."

That series was "The Ghost Whisperer," starring Jennifer Love-Hewitt, on which Gray served as writer, director and executive producer for five seasons.

"Working in TV taught me how to make high-quality films very efficiently," he says. "I also met a lot of talented people. Then technology improved to the point where there was this new high definition 'red camera' that allowed you shoot a movie at a fraction of the cost of a 35-mm film. It was time to put my money where my mouth was and make 'White Irish Drinkers.'"

Gray had made enough money from "The Ghost Whisperer" to assemble a crew of talented people who were looking to step up from assistant positions to top dogs in their crafts on a feature film for very short bread. The actors mostly worked at Screen Actors Guild minimums.

Still, Gray says he was amazed that when he sent the script to agencies he attracted talent like Karen Allen, Peter Riegert and Stephen Lang, fresh off "Avatar," to his uncompromised Brooklyn indie movie with a coming-of-age romance that includes a nude cemetery romp.

"My wife, Melissa Jo Peltier, a very talented producer and director, who had her own TV series called 'The Dog Whisperer,' - we had whispering shows together - came on as a producer," says Gray. "Paul Bernard, another seasoned producer, came on board. And together we had so much experience that we made this movie in 17 days for 600,000 bucks."

Gray, a Bishop Ford High grad, says the production only left Bay Ridge for two locations in the film - an old fashioned movie house in Syosset, L.I., and Greenwood Cemetery. "Greenwood Cemetery wouldn't let us shoot because of the nudity," he says. "So we found an old Gothic cemetery in Queens that was cool with it. Otherwise the entire movie was shot on the streets where I grew up in Bay Ridge. We used the top floor of the Bay Ridge Manor as our production office and when we needed help in getting the rooftop of the 86th St. municipal parking lot to shoot, state Sen. Marty Golden made a few calls."

Then the movie was accepted into the prestigious Toronto Film Festival.

"Audiences loved it," says Gray. "As I sat there I thought, 'If nothing else happens this is worth it.' I was so tired of blue-collar people being depicted as 'dese, dem and dose' dummies that it was important to me to show the people I grew up with as the really smart, complex people they are. I still get together regularly with my old Bay Ridge pals."

Something else happened in Toronto: "White Irish Drinkers" was bought for theatrical distribution by Screen Media which will open it at the Sunshine Theater on Houston St. in Manhattan on March 25. "It'll run in at least one theater in Brooklyn," Gray says. "It will also open in LA and Boston and Vancouver."

Terrence Mulligan, who runs The Craic Festival, that is sponsored by Con Ed, Soho House Inn, Tullamore Dew and Stella Artois, grew up in Bay Ridge and was so impressed with the pitch-perfect dialogue and Irish-Americana situations of "White Irish Drinkers" that he's opening the festival with it on March 10, 7 p.m., at Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick St.

Mulligan's one-line review: "You're gonna love this fil-um!"

John Gray, Karen Allen, Stephen Lang and Peter Riegert will participate in a post- screening Q&A.

For tickets and more Craic Festival information, call (646) 549-1349 or visit Bay Ridge eyes are smiling in Brooklyn crime drama 'White Irish Drinkers'

White Irish Drinkers writer-director John Gray has acquired the Bryan Gruley mystery thriller The Hanging Tree, and he’ll write the script to direct. Gray will also produce it under his Ovington Avenue Productions along with partner Melissa Jo Peltier. They worked together on White Irish Drinkers, the coming-of-age drama that was released by Screen Media. The Hanging Tree is the second novel in Gruley’s Starvation Lake mystery series. Gus Carpenter, a former Detroit Times reporter-turned-detective, tries to solve the mystery of how a former resident of the Michigan resort town winds up hanging from a tree after she returns home. Gray, who created the CBS series The Ghost Whisperer and wrote and directed Martin and Lewis and Helter Skelter for CBS, also directed the features Born to Be Wild and The Glimmer Man. The book deal was made by WME. “Bryan Gruley has written a brilliant series of novels, with rich characters in an incredibly visual and fascinating world,” Gray said. “The themes in this particular novel resonated deeply with me and I’m passionate about bringing it to the screen.” John Gray Targets 'The Hanging Tree' As 'White Irish Drinkers' Followup Couching clichés in self-conscious nostalgia does nothing to lessen their corniness in White Irish Drinkers, a coming-of-age saga notable only for its staleness. In 1975 Brooklyn, home of Noo Yawk Irish accents and bellbottoms, teenaged Brian (an unconvincing Nick Thurston) is forced to cope with a series of issues: his older brother Danny (an even less convincing Geoff Wigdor), a combative jerk who wants him to be his partner-in-larceny; his abusive drunk of a father (Stephen Lang); and his life working in a run-down movie theater, a seeming dead-end existence he's comfortable accepting, despite the passion for painting he secretly nurtures in his apartment building's basement. Brian's dilemmas are laid out in schematic and loaded terms, such that engaging with his struggle to understand himself and his environment is futile. Nonetheless, the film dutifully proceeds down its rote path, striving to conjure nonexistent mystery regarding whether Brian will choose to stay at home and accept the working-class existence championed by most of his alcohol-loving friends (or the criminal profession advocated by Danny), or instead skip town for college like his pot-smoking Carnegie Mellon-attending pal, taking with him the fetching travel agent Shauna (Leslie Murphy) who dreams of escaping Brooklyn. Shauna's promise of freedom and liberation is epitomized by her convincing Brian to run naked and carefree through a cemetery, while home is represented by bloody knuckles and black eyes courtesy of boozehound pop, a horrific role model whom the film—spoiler alert!—also laughably attempts to posit as being a loving father deep, deep, deep down inside. With a hand so leaden it threatens to tear through the screen, writer-director John Gray does little more than channel stories like A Bronx Tale, injecting into his formulaic script a ruthless gangster, stock period music, sets, costumes, and pop-culture jokes (sample groaner: the movie theater owner thinks Rocky Horror Picture Show is going to bomb!), and a mother for Brian who, as earnestly played by Karen Allen, suffers her husband's cruelty while remaining loyal to her brood. With its every well-worn element fitting together into a neat-and-tidy whole, Brian's self-actualization ultimately proves phony, albeit not quite as monotonous as Lang's performance. As the film's paternal boogie man, he slurs, stumbles, wallops and wails with such overcooked abandon that he somehow succeeds at being more one-note than in his prior turn as Avatar's military monster. White Irish Drinkers Putting profane adjectives in front of every other noun in dialogue that wants desperately to sound streetwise doesn’t make it feel authentic if the other words spoken by the characters are arranged into orderly little blocks of exposition. That tidiness is the fatal flaw of John Gray’s semi-autobiographical “White Irish Drinkers,” especially in scenes during which its nice young protagonist sits around shooting the breeze with his neighborhood pals.

Set in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn in 1975, the movie is a fill-in-the-blanks kitchen-sink drama peopled with the usual stereotypes: a sensitive young artist who draws in secret, his bullying older brother who is headed on the wrong path, their drunken father and their long-suffering mother.

Continue reading the main story RELATED COVERAGE

White Irish DrinkersMARCH 25, 2011 In foreground in front of the camera, Stephen Lang, Karen Allen, Nick Thurston and Leslie Murphy on the set of John Gray’s film “White Irish Drinkers.”Film: John Gray Goes Really Indie, With His Own CashJAN. 22, 2010 The artist, 18-year-old Brian (Nick Thurston), is a fish out of water in his rough neighborhood. His older brother, Danny (Geoff Wigdor), who robs jewelry stores, pressures him to go bad and hurls homophobic epithets when he balks. Their father, Patrick (Stephen Lang), arrives home drunk and slaps Danny around. Their mother, Margaret (Karen Allen), who has endured her husband’s abuse for decades, staunchly defends him. There is an utterly predictable romance (with obstacles) between and Brian and Shauna (Leslie Murphy), who works in a neighborhood travel agency.

Brian works as an assistant to Whitey (Peter Riegert), the perpetually indebted owner of a decrepit local movie theater. Using his one contact in the rock world, Whitey conceives a ludicrous scheme to book the Rolling Stones in his theater for one night and to sell tickets for $50 apiece, to be paid in cash. Danny expects Brian to help him to steal the money once it is collected. That’s all I’ll say.

Because Mr. Thurston and Mr. Wigdor lack the hard shells necessary to make their characters credible, “White Irish Drinkers” feels synthetic. Mr. Lang and the older cast members fare better, but they can’t save a movie that runs on clichés. STEPHEN HOLDEN

“White Irish Drinkers” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It includes nonstop profanity, nudity and some mild violence.


Opens on Friday in Manhattan.

Written and directed by John Gray; director of photography, Seamus Tierney; edited by Neil Mandelberg; music by Mark Snow; production design by Tomasso Ortino; costumes by Nicole Capasso; produced by Mr. Gray, Melissa Jo Peltier, Paul Bernard and James Scura; released by Screen Media Films. At the Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema, 139-143 East Houston Street, East Village. Running time: 1 hour 49 minutes.

WITH: Stephen Lang (Patrick), Peter Riegert (Whitey), Karen Allen (Margaret), Nick Thurston (Brian), Geoff Wigdor (Danny) and Leslie Murphy (Shauna). John Gray’s ‘White Irish Drinkers’

Melissa Jo Peltier, who is married to Mr. Gray, is a producer and director of second-unit photography.

Mr. Gray agreed that “White Irish Drinkers,” a story about choosing the direction one takes in life, was all about personal passion. “And there’s another way to look at it,” he said. “Like: ‘What a vanity production. The guy wants to make his own movie.’ But I’ve been very lucky in television and had a lot of success, and there comes a moment where you have to be careful that your career’s not leading you instead of you leading your career.”

Mr. Gray’s attitude is probably healthy given the shifting landscape in the movie industry and the appetites of the moviegoing public: A period piece with middle-aged actors? And no vampires? It seems, at best, high-risk, something to which other filmmakers can attest.

“I was rather naïve when I began writing ‘Adventureland’ years back,” said the director Greg Mottola (“Superbad”). “I assumed one could market a nostalgic college-, high-school-age movie to a young audience and the generation that lived through the decade the movie was set, but no studio I met with had any desire to do that. It was all about the under-25 audience. The response I usually got was, ‘We’ll make this movie, if you rewrite it to make it contemporary.’ ” (The movie was eventually released, with young actors including Kristen Stewart, cast before “Twilight,” but flopped.)

At the same time, there may be other forces that could work in Mr. Gray’s favor. “Everyone in the independent sector has been talking about the glut of product that’s hit the independent film world the last five years, with all the hedge-fund money that came in,” said James Schamus, CEO of Focus Features and a longtime figure on the New York independent scene. “That money, obviously, has disappeared, but we’re still feeling the glut. It’ll take another year to clear through the system.”

What’s exciting, Mr. Schamus continued, is that “the films that are going to be made in the low-budget arena are going to be made out of pure passion.” He added: “And that’s really cool. I can’t say if this film is going to succeed, but the films you’re going to see at Sundance this year, and Sundance next year, are films that are going to be made by people who had to make them. Not by people who got a check from Uncle Moe, who works for a hedge fund in Connecticut.”

Mr. Gray wrote his own check, wrote his own script, directed his own film (it’s in postproduction now, being edited at night and on weekends by a friend from “Ghost Whisperer”) and will be taking all the credit. Or blame. Going Really Indie, With His Own Cash

Reporting from Toronto — If there was a theme song for "White Irish Drinkers," writer-director John Gray's emotionally charged coming-of-age drama premiering Wednesday at the Toronto International Film Festival. Over the years, many people said they liked the script and it got Gray work, yet no one wanted to make the movie. The script gathered dust for a decade until the digital age brought costs down enough for Gray to shoot the film on his own dime. The haunting memories of his tough, working-class Brooklyn childhood in the '70s, on which the film is based, refused to leave him alone.While the script languished, Gray's career was doing anything but. He wrote and directed a string of TV movies, most notably 2004's Emmy-nominated Manson Family drama, "Helter Skelter," which he adapted from the book by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry.Earlier, he dipped into the world of theatrical films directing, but not writing, the 1996 Steven Seagal flick "The Glimmer Man." But he found that projects went better when he wrote them — take the hit TV drama series "Ghost Whisperer," which Gray created and executive produced. A few years ago, he pulled "White Irish Drinkers" out of a drawer and starting rewriting it with the idea of shooting it digitally and cheaply — scaled back, more intimate. Ironically, when he rewrote it with the idea of shooting digital, his agents said they thought they could package it — meaning someone else would foot the bill. But Gray worried that might mean waiting another couple of years, and besides, he had picked November 2009 to start shooting. And he did, for 17 days. That's all he could afford and even then, virtually everything seen in the film is borrowed — the clothes, the food, the house. John Gray pours it out with 'White Irish Drinkers'