For the past two years, Broad-Street-and Packer-Avenue sisters Jennifer and Krystal Tini along with Third-and-Tree-streets resident Monique Impagliazzo have been working overtime to make their dreams come true. What once was a vision and a story on the page is now becoming a reality as the theatrical film they worked tirelessly on, “Standing Ovation,” is set to be released nationwide July 16.
Their journey first began when local talent agent Mary Anne Claro, of the 1500 block of West Passyunk Avenue, put Jennifer, 27, in touch with Diane Kirman, producer and owner of Kenilworth Films, the independent production house and brainchild behind the movie. Working with Kirman on various projects over the past decade, Claro also acts as agent for Impagliazzo, her former assistant, and Krystal, 26.
In January 2008, right before Jennifer was scheduled to head back to Los Angeles, where the sisters relocated the summer before, Kirman called her to come in as an assistant for two weeks. Now, almost two-and-a-half years later with several positions under her belt — handling everything from craft services to accounting and finally earning the title of co-producer — Jennifer lives for the adventure.
“I always wanted to be behind the camera. I never wanted to be in front of it and I love this job now,” the former Neumann-Goretti high school teacher said.
Shortly after signing on, the La Salle University graduate brought in her sister’s reel of the Neumann-Goretti Saints cheerleading squad to show writer and director Stewart Raffill. Before moving out west, Krystal helped organize routines as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers dance squad. She also honed her acting skills locally while instructing the high school troop. Loving what he saw, Raffill flew her in to choreograph a piece of one of the songs. Krystal stayed on and not only singlehandedly choreographed the movie’s routines, but designed the wardrobes as well.
“The vision in Krystal’s head of what [the actors] should wear is now our movie poster,” Impagliazzo, who joined the team before production started in the summer of ’08, said. “It all came to life.”
Every facet of the creative process was an educational experience for the three graduates of St. Maria Goretti High School, 1736 S. 10th St.
“After working a 12- or 15-hour day, I’d have to go back to wardrobe, look for what my scenes were for the next day and pack all the wardrobe and accessories myself every single night,” Krystal said. “I never did wardrobe before in my life so I was just learning along the way.”
With an extensive amount of responsibility on their shoulders and without a handbook of written guidelines, an innate passion and confidence fueled their ambitions.
“I think the three of us, we just always knew not that we were different, but that we wanted something different out of life and in general,” Impagliazzo, who shares associate producer credit along with her mentor Claro, said. “We actually get up and do it and it’s not easy either, it takes a lot of courage and moving from your gut.”
It was not uncommon for the trio to bring on friends and fellow residents such as Marisa Campagna, of Smedley and Hartranft streets, for hair and Maria Forte for makeup. The diverse crew was not only loyal and extremely dependable but talented and down to earth.
“In hiring South Philly girls, they added something to the project they never would have had before,” Jennifer said. “It’s great that Diane trusted us enough to allow us to bring in a group of South Philly girls that she didn’t know.”
Compiling the movie’s soundtrack alongside Raffill, Krystal recommended local rapper and writer Mikey P of DaCav5, who penned three of the 20 original songs.
“Learning that people have faith and trust in your work, they see your passion for it, they see your ideas and just trust you are able to get the job done knowing that,” she said of the creative process.
And, for these three, working alongside friends helped increase the bond that acted as part of the movie’s momentum.
“When you’re working with your friends and you see how hard they’re pushing themselves, you want to push yourself even harder mentally, physically even though you’re absolutely exhausted, you just keep going,” Impagliazzo, a Temple University film graduate, said.
The feel-good musical was shot along the East Coast at Jersey Shore hotspots including Wildwood, Ocean City, Cape May and Atlantic City, as well as Philadelphia and New York City. Perfect for the entire family, the inspirational plot butts the street smart, passionate singing group, “The 5 Ovations,” against conniving, wealthy sisters named, “The Wiggies,” in a music video competition.
After attending a seminar on the tween market, catering to the interests of 8 to 12 year olds, Kirman was eager to tap into the large-scale demographic and make an impact at the same time. More than a dozen real-life area teenagers served as principles with 300 to 400 total adolescence who were almost all novice actors. Joei DeCarlo, of 17th and Wolf streets, played “The 5 Ovations” manager. Training with legendary vocal coach, Sal Dupree, who served as producer, music supervisor and cast member, the 14-year-old gained considerable insight into conquering obstacles.
“In the movie, there are a lot of problems everyone faces and you can overcome them if you don’t give up,” the GAMP student said.
Without a multi-million dollar budget and against industry standards, the business minded Kirman and her crew handled every aspect from traveling to investors to distribution of the final product. And, with a script stressing the importance of reaching for the stars, it only makes sense.
Synonymous with the theme song’s lyrics, there’s no doubt these three will continue to reach for their goals.
“We always thought we were going to live the dream, we weren’t just going to dream it,” Jennifer said.