By: JaLia Moody
“Take a stand.” No matter which side is the universal message of the two-time award winning film, Voiceless, written and directed by Pat Necerato. Voiceless won Best Feature Film from two secular film festivals. The film is about a young man who comes to Philadelphia as a Christian activist leader to start a community outreach program through a church. He actively stands against abortion and the abortion clinic placed across the street from his church. Pro-choice viewers in the film festival audience gave accolades because the film handled the matter so delicately. Many people in the audience—whether pro choice or pro life—addressed the film as not being sermonizing.
The filmmaker, Necerato, started out as a Christian activist who met with legislators when hearings took place to petition laws that he was for or against to present the biblical perspective. He would frequent the abortion clinics, state legislators, and any place in New Jersey where social issues were being presented that called for a biblical response. The filmmaker simply utilized his first amendment rights to present his beliefs to the public. Voiceless is a culmination of his first two previous documentaries: Go Stand Speak: The Forgotten Power of the Public Proclamation of the Gospel and Street Preacher: A Day in the Life. The genesis of the story emerged from his own personal experiences from dealing with the church and people. Voiceless is not based on a true story, but it is fair to say that the film in an extension of Necerato’s ideological views and life experiences. Necerato wants the film to inspire viewers to take a stand for what they believe.
Voiceless was filmed in Philadelphia. Necerato is from what he calls the “Jersey side” of Philly. He grew up in South Jersey, Trenton, Palmyra, and Washington Township. The filmmaker chose to have the 26-day shoot take place in Philadelphia because he believed it was a natural place to film. He loves Philadelphia’s architecture, artistic texture, grittiness, and the street value of downtown Philly that brings a level of art. He chose to place the lead character in the Kensington or Frankfort area to represent the “Rocky-fighting metaphor.” There is an artistic rawness that Philadelphia possesses. Necerato made sure to show a cinematic rawness distinctly through the cinematography of his film. Originally, he wanted to shoot the film in black and white but distribution convinced him otherwise. Necerato worked 8-10 hours or more for three weeks coloring the film in his North Carolina post house. He’s grateful for the amount of work that McGuire from C3 Studios and his DOP, Joe Hennigan, put in to produce a film that is cinematically gritty.
With seven years under his belt as a filmmaker, Necerato has useful advice for first-time filmmakers. When it comes to choosing the city and state for your film, choose a location that is tax credit friendly, work with your producer and accountant with the tax credit, choose shooting locations that are in close proximity to each other to help save money, and choose a location that has good filmmakers and actors to bring in locally. For funding, he suggests there are two ways: fund it yourself or ask other people to fund it for you. He recommends to write and to direct the first film that you are acquiring funding for because you will be able to dictate what the story is about. He adds to read as many books and to watch as many films like the ones you are trying to make. Finally, surround yourself with people who are good at what they do. Whatever film one makes or watches, don’t forget to “take a stand.” Voiceless will be released in the fall of 2016.