“Growing up in Las Vegas, I was close with a girl who found her way into the sex industry at a very young age,” says Bryan Wizemann, the writer-director-producer of the new Factory 25 drama You Mean Everything to Me.
“As she moved from stripping into prostitution, I was fascinated and horrified by the subtle manipulations and coercions employed by her boyfriend. Their relationship seemed normal, but beneath the surface he was pursuing a slow and relentless campaign to control her life and pressure her into the sex trade.”
You Mean Everything to Me, Wizemann says in his director’s statement for the film, is inspired by her struggle for freedom. In the trailer for the film, above, Cassandra (Homeland actor Morgan Saylor) is kicked out of her sister’s apartment and falls for a DJ named Nathan (Boardwalk Empire‘s Ben Rosenfield). He enlists her to dance at her club — which turns out to be a strip club. But his manipulation has only just begun.
“It is a less a film about one woman’s descent into prostitution than what happens when a giver meets a taker, when a vulnerable young woman who has been conditioned to live for others encounters a narcissist incapable of empathy,” says Wizemann, who notes the prevalence of often-unreported sex trafficking.
You Mean Everything to Me received a grant from the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program and was part of the Sundance Institute Film Music and Sound Design Lab. The film was also awarded the Rooftop Films publicity grant.
The film is is the fourth feature for Wizemann, a Brooklyn-based independent filmmaker whose About Sunny, starring Lauren Ambrose, Dylan Baker, and Penelope Ann Miller, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and won the Grand Jury Prize at IFF Boston.
The film is also produced by Matt Grady, the founder of Factory 25, a Brooklyn-based independent film production and distribution company launched in 2009 that focuses on “conceptually provocative narratives and documentaries.” Recent and upcoming titles include All This Panic, Ma, Sylvio, Alex Ross Perry’s The Color Wheel and the Zellner Brother’s Kid Thing.
Main image: Ben Rosenfield and Morgan Saylor in You Mean Everything to Me, a Factory 25 release, from Bryan Wizemann.