You might not realize it, but Philadelphia’s suburbs are a hub for movie production. From The Sixth Sense to Silver Linings Playbook, The Lovely Bones and the 1958 horror classic, The Blob, dozens of films have been shot in our collective backyard. We welcome another name to that vaunted list this fall with Tripping, a short film from former Wynnewood resident Amelia Boscov, starring three-time Emmy nominee Dot-Marie Jones (of Glee fame) and Holly Painter. The film follows pregnant high schooler Maggie (Painter), forced to go on a road trip with her lesbian mother Lisa (Jones) in order to get an abortion at the nearest women’s health clinic.
Premiering October 26 at the 32nd annual Philadelphia Film Festival, with another showing on October 29, the movie has already gathered accolades from numerous other festivals like the top screenwriting award from New York University’s First Run Film Festival, best produced screenplay at LA’s Broad Humor Film Festival, a Silver Image Award at Reeling Chicago LGBTQ Film Festival and an official selection at Santa Fe International Film Festival, among myriad other awards, nominations and distinctions.
Despite Tripping’s wide successes, the film is over four years in the making and nearly failed to see the light of day due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As an NYU senior in 2019-20, Boscov had written the screenplay as her thesis film before the global pandemic struck, shutting down any hopes of production.
Several years later, in 2022, NYU opened up a program for alums who never got to make their films due to COVID-19, granting former students access to school equipment and insurance, as well as a grant of $1,000.
“[That $1,000] made a small dent,” Boscov jokes.
Of much greater import was NYU insurance, which brought production from a pipe dream to reality. Naturally, there were still other expenses that put a strain on production, one of which you’d expect to be hiring a three-time Emmy nominee, but in that case you’d be wrong.
“I actually just cold emailed her agent,” Boscov explains. “And [Jones] really liked the script.”
In fact, Jones enjoyed the script so much she agreed to do the work for near SAG minimum, in addition to a flight out to Philadelphia from Los Angeles. Suddenly, the production was lent an air of legitimacy that isn’t often associated with such a low-budget film.
Between Jones and the up-and-coming Painter, Boscov was granted a stable of talent that young writers/directors are not often afforded.
“It was really rewarding to get to direct really incredible actors and see the script I’ve been working on for so long come to life through them,” Boscov enthuses.
As production approached in spring 2022, Boscov’s hometown connections opened doors for her that wouldn’t be available to outsiders. Filming locations included Main Line area staples like Bryn Mawr College, Penn Wynne Park and Boscov’s alma mater Friends’ Central High School.
As a road trip movie, the character naturally had to leave the Main Line area and visit quirky highway attractions, which is how Boscov ended up filming in York, PA.
“I also really wanted to feature the Haines Shoe House in my script as the world’s largest shoe,” Boscov says. “I love the whole history of the shoe house.”
Naturally, as any film does, plans went awry just as production was about to begin. Having overcome the challenges of COVID-19 in 2020 that shut down the film before production could begin, the virus reared its ugly head again in 2022.
Three days before shooting for Tripping was set to begin, Boscov’s director of photography (DOP) came down with COVID-19, and then the backup DOP got COVID, too. The next man up was Hal Schulman, a camera assistant from Saturday Night Live who Boscov had never met before. Thankfully, the duo worked well together, as evidenced by the film’s litany of awards.
Those honors bring attention to current discourse on abortion in a different light than is usually portrayed.
“I wanted to make something about abortion that wasn’t downtrodden and upsetting and could have a more uplifting ending,” Boscov explains. “A lot of people’s stories around abortions do have an uplifting ending, because they get to do what they want with their bodies.”
Tripping intends to expand on the topics your high school health class might have omitted, shining a positive light on queer relationships, saying the word “abortion” and showing a fetus.
“Every day there’s something in the news about abortion rights and access,” Boscov observes.
One day, she hopes that news will be positive.
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