MAD/WOMAN concerns a woman beaten unconscious by her husband who searches her mindscape for a way out.

By: Oct. 31, 2022

When it comes to musicals, Broadway librettist Marc Acito (Allegiance) wants to flip the script. Inspired by the songs of indie-rocker Storm Large, Acito wrote and directed the new film MAD/WOMAN "to show how movie musicals can be made affordably." The 15-minute film musical will have its New York premiere Wednesday, November 2 at the Queens World Film Festival, where it is nominated for "Best Narrative Short" and "Best Director."

"With 70% of all new musicals losing their investors' money, Broadway is the Olympics," Acito says. "There's gold, silver, bronze and everyone else goes home empty-handed. I figured there had to be a better way."

Acito's husband Floyd Sklaver, Director of Finance for Broadway general management firm RCI Theatricals, urged him to analyze the data. "The $10 to $20 million capitalization of a new musical is a sunk cost requiring years of development before it ever recoups a penny," explains Sklaver, who oversees the finances of dozens of shows including Hadestown. "For a fraction of that cost, dynamic, imaginative films can be made that can generate revenue from day one in the digital sphere."

"I'm following the one-location model of low-budget horror," Acito explains. "The reason the call is coming from inside the house is because all you need is a house." In the case of MAD/WOMAN, that house belonged to entrepreneurs Rick and Halle Sadle. "In May of 2020, I asked them if they wanted to put a skeleton crew of artists to work," says Acito. "It was the easiest ask I've ever made."

Filmed entirely on the Sadles' property in Portland, Oregon in the summer of 2020, MAD/WOMAN concerns a woman beaten unconscious by her husband who searches her mindscape for a way out. To mitigate his male perspective, Acito chose an all-female crew, whose insights proved invaluable since he was directing remotely from New York City.

"It was insane," reports Storm Large, who otherwise would have been performing around the world with her band, symphony orchestras or the renowned Pink Martini. "I had hardly seen another human being for three months and suddenly I'm crawling on tin foil toward a dude wearing nothing but a c*cksock." The film features five Storm Large songs, including "Ladylike," which she introduced on NBC's "Rockstar Supernova" in 2006, a performance that caused so many online searches of her name it crashed "She's the kind of artist who inspires you to be your best self," says Acito, "to Live Large." The Portland team reunited for the film's World Premiere at the Portland Film Festival, where it won Best Portland Short.

Acito conceived MAD/WOMAN without dialogue, so it operates more like a visual album than the features he's planning. As a result, the film is an official selection at Sound Unseen, a "films on music" festival in Minneapolis and the ARPA International Film Festival, where it'

Still, MAD/WOMAN demonstrates the possibilities of disrupting the development process of new musicals with new media, expanding the idea of a what a musical is. "Human beings love music. Humans crave stories," Acito says. "With over 6.5 billion smartphone users worldwide, we can bring more kinds of musical stories to more humans."


Founded in 2010 and nurtured into existence by Queens residents/filmmakers Donald Preston and Katha Cato, the Queens World Film Festival was last year ranked as Movie Maker Magazine's "Top 50 Film Festivals Worth the Price of Submission." The 12th edition of the QWFF features 157 films from 27 nations to be screened over the course of this year's Live Festival November 1-6 at five Queens cultural gems: Flushing Town Hall, The Museum of the Moving Image, The Local, Kaufman Astoria Studios and the Queens Theatre. For the first time, the festival will also screen virtually on November 20 to December 4.

MAD/WOMAN plays as part of a block of six films about Remarkable Women at an event November 2nd celebrating this year's Spirit of Queens Honorees:

Taryn Sacramone, Executive Director of Queens Theatre, Chair of the Cultural Institutions Group (CIG)

Sade Lythcott, Chief Executive Officer of the National Black Theatre, Chair of the Coalition of Theatres of Color

Lucy Sexton, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Culture & Arts

Ellen Kodadek, Executive and Artistic Director of Flushing Town Hall

Of the honorees, Cato says: "These are women who reach back and hold the door open for the next person and will always have room at the table for one more."

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Marc Acito

Homeless teens. Oppressed queers. Political prisoners. Abused women. These are the people Marc Acito returns to again and again in his work. Acito has made theater on Broadway (Allegiance); Off-Bway (adapting Lerner & Loewe's Paint Your Wagon for City Center Encores! and The Day Before Spring at the York); regionally (Chasing Rainbows at Goodspeed Musicals and Papermill Playhouse; A Room with A View at The Old Globe & 5th Ave. Theater) and internationally (The Secret for Broadway Asia; Sound of the Silk Road for Nederlander Worldwide). But his favorite was writing and directing Bastard Jones, a kooky rock adaptation of Henry Fielding's Tom Jones Off-Off Broadway at the cell. After filming the show's music video, Acito realized the potential for digital media as the most effective means of developing new musicals. According to the Washington Post, "It's refreshing to find a dramatist willing to take wing with such an adventurous approach to the culture wars." People says "Acito has fantastic narrative chops."

Storm Large

Self-described "genre fluid big mouth singer lover activist nerd," Storm Large is also quite tall. An indie artist for over two decades, Large made her theatrical debut as Sally Bowles in Portland Center Stage's Cabaret, following up with a solo autobiographical show, Crazy Enough, which she expanded to a memoir Elle magazine called "a helluva compelling story." In addition to solo gigs with her own band, Large tours with nouveau-cocktail band Pink Martini and sings with symphony orchestras, including the Detroit Symphony at Carnegie Hall, where she performed Kurt Weill's Seven Deadly Sins. In 2021, she managed to render Simon Cowell speechless on "America's Got Talent." According to The Guardian, she "has a remarkable ability to convey venality and vulnerability in equal measure, and to suggest obscenity and heartbreak simultaneously."

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