Taiwanese-American filmmaker Cinder Chou is well on her way this year with local New York City film production, Artist Unknown. The film remains in production with pick-up shots currently in toe, while Chou herself has graciously given us the greenlight to share a small raft of stills which you can view above.
Providently, this project places actress Kerry Lacy right back under our radar after first getting our attention with Stacey Maltin’s chilling 2017 survival thriller short, Viola, in which she lures a fugitive rapist to his own demise. A sequel followed suit the next year from director Don Downey and also circulated festivals. Both shorts are part of a much longer resumè for Lacy who now lands her first feature lead role in Artist Unknown.
The setup? Lacy plays Juniper, an insecure martial artist who must find out the origins of a painting after two thieves attempt to steal it from her. Sonia Mena, Walker Hare, Sam Jaikaran, Daryl Lathon, Ed Prostak and Jay Catlett round out the cast.
Pic hails from Chou’s Cinderblockade Productions LLC, with Lauren La Melle producing, and Jesse Sperling serving as director of photography.
Chou is a member of nationwide non-profit film collective, Filmshop, and has amassed more than a dozen years of set experience on a number of TV and film productions. She’s also helmed and screened her own shortfilms, including 2016 Western adventure comedy, The Man With The Western Hat, which won the Audience Award at the 2017 Artists Forum Festival of the Moving Image.
With lockdowns in place as the 2020 pandemic set in and with Chou’s other projects ultimately shelved at the time, she began writing the project as early as last April. As Chou puts it in a statement to FCS, she “wanted to get real New York indie” with the process, inspired by an interest in stories about people who buy thrift store paintings that turn out to be priceless works of art. Chou eventually sat down with Lacy around last summer per casting discussions, with the actress then posting training updates later in the year going into this year.
“Kerry’s talents at acting and martial arts are no secret to anyone who knows her. In her, I saw an actor who could balance both vulnerability and toughness, and has the martial arts skills to boot.” said Chou in a statement.
Chou finished the first draft last November months prior to rolling cameras back in March, with a skeleton crew ranging from five-to-seven people, and a sixteen-day shoot laid out with strict Covid protocols and planning in place.
“It was a labor of love from every person involved and I’m still impressed by what we were able to achieve together.” said Chou.
You can find more stills exclusively available over at the officialArtist Unknown Instagram page.