Bluff City Law
isn’t the only production ramping up in Memphis this month. Matteo Servente is getting ready to roll camera on his new short film, “Nessun Dorma (No One Sleeps).”
Servente, who was born in Italy, has made Memphis his home for more than a decade. In 2017, he won the Memphis Film Prize with his short film “We Go On,” then went on to be the first person to ever win prizes for both a narrative and documentary short film at Indie Memphis. “Nessun Dorma” is based on a feature film Servente has been developing for more than five years. The story is about a 10-year-old child who steals a car to go on a quest to find a mermaid. When his car breaks down in an unfamiliar place, he asks for help from a local barber and a police dispatcher. “Their lives get a little bit turned upside down by the arrival of this kid, and they have to make a decision about whether to help him or not,” says Servente.
The lead part of the questing kid is played by Max Havens. “He responded to one of our postings for additions, and he was incredible,” says Servente. “So we're really excited because of course a lot of this film is right on his shoulders, and he seems to be very much up to the task.”
Havens is going to have a lot of quality help. The police dispatcher will be played by veteran character actress Beth Grant, who has appeared in everything from The Office
to American Gods
. The part of the barber went to John Diehl, who has appeared on shows such as Friday Night Lights
and The Shield
. Servente says Grant persuaded Diehl to take the part. “He’s a friend of hers and was actually semi-retired from acting. But he’s doing this project because he’s acting with her, so it’s kind of a family thing for them. They’ve been friends for 40 years.”
The screenplay was written by Melissa Anderson Sweazy, who co-directed the documentary feature Good Grief
, which swept the Hometowner Audience and Jury awards at Indie Memphis the same year as Servente’s double win. Shooting the project is acclaimed Memphis cinematographer Ryan Earl Parker.
Production of “Nessun Dorma” is supported by the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) Fiscal Sponsorship Program, where more than 40 people have already made a tax-deductible donation to the cause. Servente says this short film will hopefully clear the way toward the production of the eventual feature film version. You can see more about the IFP fiscal sponsorship program at this link.