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WELCOME TO THE RILEYS

About The Production
WELCOME TO THE RILEYS began its journey to the big screen in a New Orleans institution: the notorious Bourbon Street strip joint Big Daddy's. In 2002, screenwriter Ken Hixon went to the Big Easy to attend the wedding of a long-time friend, and he and some friends dropped by the now-defunct club. Hixon noticed a girl who appeared far too young and vulnerable to be a stripper dancing on a small stage in the back of the club. The image of that young woman stuck with him and became the inspiration for a screenplay that evolved into WELCOME TO THE RILEYS, the story of a couple coming to terms with the loss of their daughter through an unlikely relationship with a teenage stripper.

A few years later, Hixon gave the finished script to Michael Costigan, president of Scott Free Productions and one of the film's producers. When Costigan read the script, he was hooked by its hard-edged emotional honesty. "The movie is about how people connect with each other,” says Costigan. "But it is never pat, simple or sentimental. It feels very true and complicated, the way real life is.”

Sensing that the script needed a director who could handle its complex emotional demands, Costigan approached Jake Scott whose credits included the period action comedy feature Plunkett and MacLeane as well as dozens of music videos for some of the world's most popular and acclaimed artists. Costigan felt that, in addition to being a strong visual storyteller, Scott's background as a husband and father of four (including two daughters) would allow him to find a deeper connection to the story of this fractured family. "I could tell my description struck a chord,” says Costigan. "And once he read it, he said he had to make this film. Jake saw all the levels in the script. He understood it was about love and how a husband and wife find each other again, but also about getting a second chance at parenting. And Jake has a unique visual style, which I thought would be helpful in opening up the film.”

The timing was fortuitous. Scott was actively looking for a character-driven piece to direct and WELCOME TO THE RILEYS fit the bill. "I was interested in doing something quite real about ordinary people,” he says. "Many things about this script spoke to me. It's a film about learning to live with uncontrollable forces.”

Scott says he was especially impressed by the script's moving portrayal of a family in crisis. "Doug was the character I really responded to,” he explains. "Doug Riley is a plumber, in both a literal and metaphorical way. He's not the kind of man to run to a psychologist to deal with this sort of pain. He has taped up a pipe that is leaking, and it's eventually going to burst somewhere else. He thinks a man should be able to get over this and it takes him eight years to finally hit the wall.”

Ironically, Costigan says, finding financing for a small-scale project like WELCOME TO THE RILEYS can be as difficult or more so that putting together a blockbuster. "When I read it, I knew it would be hard to get made in Hollywood,” he says. "The only way to do it was to find a filmmaker to bring it to life and a perfect cast. We were very lucky to find an incredible partner in Argonaut Pictures. They were engaged enough by our view of the film to be willing to finance it.”

Scott Bloom and Giovanni Agnelli, the founders of Argonaut Pictures, were searching for the film that would be their production company's first release. After considering many projects, it became apparent that to them WELCOME TO THE RILEYS was the film they both wanted to make.

Bloom and Agnelli credit Jake Scott's vision for the film as the deciding factor. "He wanted to make a very honest, studied view of the mental state of these different characters and the chemistry between them,” says Bloom. "We felt confident that Jake was very much an actor's director and had the goods to bring out the best in a stellar team of performers.”

In fact, they were so confident that they agreed to produce the film before they left the first meeting. "I read a lot of scripts,” says Agnelli. "When I try to visualize them in my head, sometimes I can't imagine how it's going to turn out. When we sat down with Jake, he had such a precise, clear vision of what he wanted to do. He found so much between the lines. Scott and I looked at each other and we knew right there we were going to make this movie.”

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