Blow to the Head=A Hit at Sundance

An 8-year-old son and an accidentally thrown baseball lead to the Sundance Film Festival.

Stacie Passon
Stacie Passon.
Courtesy of the studio.

A baseball accidentally thrown at Stacie Passon’s head by her 8-year-old son has started the former commercial producer and director on the path to success as a filmmaker.

Passon emerged from the haze of that beaning to write the screenplay for her first film, the aptly titled Concussion. The 93-minute film was one of the hits of the recent Sundance Film Festival and Passon came away with a lucrative distribution deal with one of today’s most-successful film companies.

“I was in a place of isolation,” says Passon, reflecting on the months after the baseball incident. She mainly stayed at home in Montclair—where she lives with her partner and their two children—reading and going through old letters and photos. “When you do that it can put you in a mid-life crisis,” says Passon, 43. “You’re reminding yourself of who you were and wanting to reclaim that. That’s what my film is all about.”

In fact, Concussion is the loosely autobiographical story of a lesbian housewife gone wild. It stars Robin Weigert from TV’s Deadwood as the lead character, along with Maggie Siff (Sons of Anarchy) and Janel Moloney (The West Wing) and two of Passon’s actor friends from Montclair, Julie Fain Lawrence and Claudine Ohayon. The low-budget project—Passon won’t reveal the actual cost—was shot at friends’ houses, her children’s school and other sites around Montclair and New York City.

Passon submitted the film to numerous festivals and was delighted to learn that it had been accepted at Sundance, no small feat for a first-time director. Concussion was one of only 16 feature films admitted into the U.S. Dramatic Competition category out of about 1,200 entries.

After winning over audiences at Sundance, which was held January 17 to 27 in Park City, Utah, Concussion was purchased by Radius, an arm of the Weinstein Company, for a North American release for a seven-figure sum, Passon says. The film will have a limited theatrical release and then will be available through video on demand.

“Sundance was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing,” says Passon, whose new projects include a TV series called Animals, loosely based on Concussion. “The great story about this is I got to make a movie with my friends. It was a real community thing.”

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