Alas, Dominique Paul has shut the door of her Reform Pilates Studio in the Kentlands. But a much bigger door is wide open.
“In short, I am closing the studio down because a writing project I have been working on for years is finally going,” said Paul, the Montgomery County native who graduated from Thomas S. Wootton High School and the University of Maryland, College Park, and has taught the mind-body system of exercises in the Kentlands since 2010.
Paul’s emailed reference to “a writing project” is a bit of an understatement, but her in-person demeanor betrayed her excitement. That by-no-means minor project is the filming of her 2006 debut novel “The Possibility of Fireflies.” Paul also wrote the screenplay for the coming-of-age story that is set in the townhouse community off Muddy Branch Road in Gaithersburg where she once lived. Paul said her story is “emotionally true, but not factually accurate. It’s an amalgamation” of her own and her friend’s family members and experience.
By June 15, Paul will have worked off the remaining packages her Pilates clients paid for, and she will be off to Hollywood. The two major roles—mother and daughter—have been cast; the film will star Courtney Love, as the mother, and Joey King, as the daughter.
Love, 51, once the wife of the late Kurt Cobain, was the frontwoman for the alternative band Hole, and received multiple Grammy award nominations for her 1998 mainstream album “Celebrity Skin.” Her acting career has included a Golden Globe award-nominated part in the movie “The People vs. Larry Flynt” (1996), as well as the role of rocker Elle Davis in the hip-hop TV series “Empire.” King, 16, is best known for playing Ramona Quimby in the 2010 movie adaptation of Beverly Cleary’s “Ramona and Beezus.”
It took nearly 10 years for the “Firefly” project to get to this point, and since writing the book and the script, many a TV and film deal fell through. “It optioned every year I’ve had it,” Paul said. Just when Miley Cyrus was deciding whether to renew her option, about 2-1/2 years ago, a phone call came in from an interested director Deborah Chow, who Paul credits for “pushing the ball up the hill with me.”
Chow has included Paul in all aspects of the production. In Los Angeles, Paul will have input on casting the two additional major roles—the sister and the love interest–as well as the lesser ones. She is also helping the film commission find an “as authentic as possible” location in Toronto. Sadly, because the State of Maryland no longer offers tax breaks for movie production, Paul explained, filming will take place in a suburb of Toronto suburb that will be made to look much like 1980s Gaithersburg.
“My job is to make sure it feels that way I want it to,” Paul said, noting that the locale should have the aura of “what Maryland used to feel like when I was growing up, when there was nothing to do out here. Things were lighter. Nostalgia is what I am going for. I was homesick when I wrote the book.” She will have input on hair, makeup and wardrobe, too–“what it was like when girls were getting ready for boys.”
Filming is scheduled to begin on Sept. 5, allowing for four five-day weeks, with an alternate week allowed for any weather complications. The soundtrack, to be added in November, will be created by BT (AKA Brian Transeau), a Grammy-nominated artist, music producer and composer from Boyds who is also Paul’s long-term friend.
Also during the summer, Paul plans to pursue her dream of writing a TV pilot and to start another novel; a sequel to “Firefly” and historical fiction are high on her list. And in January, said the starry eyed screenwriter, we are hoping to get into the Sundance Film Festival.