Various websites are reporting that Whit Stillman is currently casting a new movie, due to start shooting later this year. The project is called Damsels in Distress and/or Diorissimo and the storyline from Open Book Casting reads:
[The picture] centers on a group of college girls who take in a new student and teach her their own misguided ways of helping people. Lily, a new student at Seven Oaks University, winds up filling in with a dynamic and highly individualistic group of girls, addicted to the elegance of the past: Heather, Violet and Rose all volunteer at the campus Suicide Prevention Center, convinced that musical dance, sharp clothes and good hygiene – the Dior perfume “Diorissimo” is their trademark – can all contribute to staving off the inevitable self-destructive impulses that follow hard on the heels of failed college romances. Despite their sophisticated talk and savvy use of perfume, the girls are plagued by Cupid’s arrows and must adjust their psyches to the onset of amour.
It sounds like the film will be shooting in New York, and/or the Northeast US generally, with Stillman as writer and director. The Playlist has a little more background and Variety has some quotes from Stillman:
“It’s a college comedy,” Stillman said. “It’s about four stylish, perfume-obsessed college girls who revolutionise the social life at their grungy university.”
Stillman described “Damsels” as “ultra-low-budget” and said that he was happy with the response from actresses interested in the femme-centric comedy. Pic is casting in New York and Los Angeles.
There are some other articles about the film around but they don’t have any further information. Maybe this is the film Stillman was working on in the summer of 2009 but didn’t want to say too much about.
You can, apparently, download the script from Screenplay Online with the “script key code” of “416damsels14” (without quotes). But I balked at entering my credit card details into such an odd-looking site. Besides, I don’t want any spoilers!
For the same reason, I haven’t read through the full list of roles from Open Book Casting, but here they are:
VIOLET Female, about 19 years old, written as Caucasian, but could be anything. A pretty sophomore at Seven Oaks University, a talkative charmer who sound like a cross between a Southern belle and a Roaring Twenties flapper, Violet is the leader of a clique of stylish but individualistic girls. The intellectual and spiritual fountainhead of the group, Violet believes that good hygiene, stylish clothes, French perfume and musical production dance numbers will curb student suicides and transform the drab, shabby lives of depressed undergraduates. Hungry to be the next creator of an international dance craze, and unable to resist a man with deep blue eyes, Violet leads her coterie with elegance and grace into one damn catastrophic romance after another – but she inevitably emerges convinced that everything will turn out well.
LILY Female, about 19 years old, Caucasian, a transfer student, pretty but sad, Lily arrives at Seven Oaks University as a sophomore, and is instantly adopted by Violet’s charming, eccentric clique of stylish but possibly quite mad students. A reasonably normal girl, Lily is fascinated by Violet’s leadership and by their core values, many of which appear to derive from the late lamented Zelda Fitzgerald. A man magnet, Lily is wooed by both the smooth young business type Charlie and her just-friends grad student dreamboat Tom, whose mode of courtly love intersects poorly with Lily’s own desires.
ROSE Female, about 19 years old, the third member of Violet’s individualistic band, Rose is a stylish Afro-Caribbean / West Indian black girl (an elegant English-colonial, Jamaican, Barbadian etc accent would be a big plus) with strong opinions and good values. Convinced (with some justification) that the men circling around them are playboys and oper-a-tors (Rose likes to hyphenate for effect), Rose is, like the others, intensely sensitive to foul odors, and flees at the scent of B.O. on the morning wind. Much more wary than the other three members of the group, who all seem to believe that wild hearts must be broken, Rose is waiting for perfection in a dance partner, “a dance of truth and beauty and righteousness” that may never get its downbeat intro.
HEATHER Female, about 19 years old. Cute and insipid, Heather is the fourth member of the band. The least flamboyant member of the quartet of fast friends, Heather is attracted to Thor, a rather dim member of the D.U. fraternity (famous for men who are neither smart nor good-looking, except Thor). Heather becomes deeply involved with Thor’s unique form of color disability – skipping kindergarten, he never learned the proper names for all the various colors – she soon finds herself playing Annie Sullivan to Thor’s color-disabled Helen Keller.
FRANK Male, Caucasian, about 19 or 20 years old, Violet’s boyfriend, with notably blue eyes, he’s a dim D.U. guy with a rather limited worldview. Frank is introduced to Priss, and soon is found in an enthusiastic clinch with her. Later dumped by the volatile Priss, Frank returns to apologize to Violet and to plead for the return of his bean-ball.
TOM Male, late 20s, Caucasian, a dreamboat grad student at Seven Oaks, Tom is dating Alice but befriends Lily – so much so that Alice is correctly convinced that Tom is after Lily. Soon after he begins dating her, Tom earnestly confesses that he follows the teachings of the medieval Cathar heresy and can only have non-procreative sex in a way Lily finds distinctly uncomfortable – – a fact that ultimately leads to a painful rift between them. Unhappy to lose her and disillusioned with Catharism, Tom tries to get her back.
CHARLIE WALKER / FRED PACKENSTACKER Male, about 19 or 20, A student at Seven Oaks, whose real name is Fred, he sends Lily a drink, and claims his name is Charlie Walker, a man with a job at “Strategic Development Associates,” a nonexistent firm. Rose suspects him of being an op-er-a-tor or playboy type, Charlie is later busted as a junior at the despised Ed School. A charming oddball with a rich imagination, he begins dating Violet and they’re quite possibly made for each other, in some mysterious way that normal specimens of humanity could never truly understand.
THOR Male, about 19 or 20, any ethnicity, the only handsome member of the D.U. fraternity, Thor’s parents were ìprecocity addictsî who forced him to skip kindergarten, in so doing keeping him from ever properly learning colors and their names. Increasingly frustrated by his inability to correctly distinguish between green and blue, Thor pairs off romantically with Heather, and studies very hard in his spare time to learn all the colors of the rainbow. A diligent student (for a D.U. guy), Thor is overjoyed when his efforts are crowned with success.
JIMBO Male, about 19 or 20, any ethnicity, a gawky male student whose name is Jim Bose but whose nickname is “Jimbo,” he comes into the Suicide Prevention Center where he is mistakenly identified as being suicidal and given a donut. In fact, he’s worried about Priss, a pretty girl in his dorm. Pulled into Violet’s circle of friends, Jimbo joins Violet’s dance cult while pining for Rose , even though he’s not particularly depressed or suicidal.
PRISS Female Caucasian, about 19 or 20. A girl in Jimbo’s dorm, she has locked herself inside her dorm room and has her headphones on. Delicate-looking and very pretty, Priss is startled when Violet and Jimbo burst into her room, wrongly convinced that she might be on the verge of suicide. Mooning over her failed romance with Josh, Priss briefly becomes a member of Violet’s cult, but when she’s introduced to Frank, she opts to steal his heart away from Violet, and becomes infamous for her man-stealing ways.
RICK DEWOLFE Male, about 20 – 22, any ethnicity. Conceited, insufferable and handsome, he’s the editor of The Daily Complainer, the campus newspaper, and he jumps on a desk to address the budding journalists in his newsroom. Full of himself and convinced he was put on this earth to bully and cajole and bark orders, he loathes the Roman-letter fraternities which he is determined to close and Violet challenges.
ALICE Female, about 23 – 26, any ethnicity, Tom’s girlfriend, Alice joins him in his gourmet ways, helping make dinner for Lily when she drops by for a visit and reveals she’s never seen an artichoke before. Aware that Tom is showing a considerable interest in Lily, who’s very attractive, Alice grows increasingly jealous which leads to a break-up with Tom.
DEBBIE A chorus member who seems catatonic, she’s one of the depressed, possibly suicidal students who has been dragooned into performing in one of Violet’s musical events. She’s suspicious and angry and quite irritated when Violet questions her about her mood and perfume use, or lack thereof.
GANGLY STUDENT / FREAK ASTAIRE About 19-21, any ethnicity, a gangly, oddly dressed male student, he’s a depressive, sad-looking student who takes part in the Suicide Center musical dance program and rehearses a performance of “Things Are Looking Up.” He has taken the stage name of Freak Astaire.
BARMAN Male, late 20s – 40s, any ethnicity. Bartender at The Corner Bar, he passes along drinks to Lily from Fred, “compliments of the guy at the bar.” Later, he does it again, compliments of Tom.
MALE STUDENT College age, any ethnicity, A male student journalist, he asks Rick De Wolfe how the campus paper, “The Daily Complainer,” got its name…
GROUNDSKEEPER A maintenance man at Seven Oaks College, he’s riding a small grasscutter on a sports field, and tries to stop Violet from striding towards the rain.
EMILY TWEETER 11 years old, painfully shy, she is Violet seen as a timid seventh grader, mocked by her peers when she announces her name.
YOUNG ROSE Rose seen at 11 years old, this West Indian (or Afro-American) seventh grader tries to coax Emily into revealing her name.
GIRL #1 Any ethnicity, this 11 year old girl mocks shy Emily Tweeter, calling her retarded.
GIRL #2 This 11 year old girl is another demanding seventh grader who pressures Emily to reveal her name.
WAITRESS Female, any ethnicity, 50s or so, a waitress at a diner, she tries to be kindhearted and sympathetic to Violet, but is insulted when she’s rebuffed. She changes the subject to talk about the recent string of highway suicides.
HIGHWAY WORKER 1 & HIGHWAY WORKER 2 Two guys, any ethnicities, 30s – late 40s, A pair of highway groundsmen on break, they drink coffee at the local diner and talk ominously about the recent rash of suicides on the highway. DAY PLAYERS
YOUNGER WAITRESS Female 20s, an African-American waitress at the local diner, she takes an interest in Violet’s romance-induced emotional tailspin.
CAMPUS COP Male, any ethnicity, 30s and up, this campus cop recognizes Violet as the missing sophomore, and questions her about having left a suicide note.
PROFESSOR RYAN Male, Caucasian, mid 40s and up, the teacher of a college course in “Flit Lit,” Professor Ryan lectures (rather defensively) on the literary career of Ronald Firbank.
FRIEND #1 & FRIEND #2 College-age guys, any ethnicities, two college friends of Fred’s, they are amused when Violet addresses him as “Charlie”. DAY PLAYERS
PAMPHLET GUY Male, 20 – 35. A tall, thin, fresh-faced California-type pamphlet type, he offers Lily the pamphlet on the ìA.L.A.î which so offends Tom…
GLADIATOR College-age dude, any ethnicity, an inebriated D.U. guy, dressed as a gladiator during the Roman Holidays festival, he tries to taunt a golden lab with a sword while spouting mock Latin.
D.U. GUY College-age dude, any ethnicity, a D.U. guy who recommends grotesquely excessive drinking as a depression remedy, claiming to always feel fine after vomiting.
MAD MADGE Female, about 20 or 21, any ethnicity, an aggrieved junior in the same dorm as Violet she complains about Violet’s wearing loudly clacking tap shoes in the hall.
POSITIVE POLLY College-age female, any ethnicity, A much more upbeat neighbor in Violet’s dorm, she enjoys Violet’s tap dancing.
COED College-age female, any ethnicity, at a seminar, she lists Margaret Sanger as one of her personal heroines.
MR. KAUFMAN Male, Caucasian or African-American, 40s and up, a teacher, he asks his students to identify their personal heroes and heroines, and is polite but baffled (and amused) when Violet lists three people who each started dance crazes.
ED SCHOOL GIRL Female, about 19-21. Any ethnicity, a girl at the Education School, she tries to stop a close friend from attempting a half-assed and inevitably unsuccessful suicide.
ED SCHOOL GUY Male, about 19-21. A young man named Cary, he is a Ed School student who tries to commit suicide from jumping off a too-low building but only succeeds in hurting himself.
This certainly sounds more definite than any of the other possible Stillman movies we’ve heard about in recent years, so fingers crossed…