‘The Wire’ producer helps Md. natives bring ‘Fishbowl’ thriller to Amazon

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Fishbowl' (Part 1)

Their mother was the hairdresser for Idris Elba and Michael B. Jordan on “The Wire.”

Now, siblings from Ellicott City, Maryland, are leaving their own mark with “Fishbowl,” an indie thriller produced by George Pelecanos that hits Amazon on Oct. 27, the same night that it screens at a pop-up drive-in at the Historic Savage Mill in Howard County.

You may recognize the locations as the film was shot in parts of Howard, Baltimore and Frederick counties, which together combine to create the fictional Bishop County.

“It’s an exaggerated Howard County,” writer/director Stephen Kinigopoulos told WTOP. “The logline is a father is prepping his girls for the rapture coming, short and sweet.”

The story follows the Simon sisters who are grappling with their mother’s sudden disappearance and the mental decline of their father in a small town in the mid-1990s.

“There are three sisters, Belle, Jessa and Rachel. They all have their different quirks. It’s a movie really about these girls, how they’re dealing with a stressful time, their father, their identity, sexuality and growing up,” co-director Alexa Kinigopoulos said.

To cast the sisters, they first turned to a photo-shoot colleague named Belle Shickle.

“We just loved the air about her … very interesting, quiet and mysterious,” Alexa said.

“Then with the other girls, we went through casting and we were blown away by their acting chops. … Caroline [Coleman] was so fascinating to watch without dialogue, then with Emily Peachey, who’s very wordy and thoughtful, it was such a nice juxtaposition.”

It’s a drastically more intense version of the sibling filmmakers’ childhood. They didn’t expect to make movies when they grew up, though they did make sweet home videos singing Enrique Iglesias’ “Hero.” It would be a preview of their current career in Nashville where they film music videos for Kacey Musgraves and Little Big Town.

“That’s what we show to other artists in order to get the job, [the Enrique Iglesias home videos],” Stephen joked. “We’re like, ‘Look at what we made when we were like 10!'”

In all seriousness, it was a unique childhood watching their mom, Janice Kinigopoulos, work on arguably the greatest show of all time, “The Wire,” coproduced by Pelecanos.

“She’d bring us on set and I remember sometimes I’d watch Anthony Hemingway’s dogs, but I didn’t appreciate it until I was probably like 21,” Stephen said.

Stephen actually appears as a drug runner in Season 3 and a detective in Season 5.

“The reason we could cast him is because he looked like a man when he was 13,” Pelecanos said. “I had really seen these two grow up. … Stephen directed a short that I wrote called ‘The Confidential Informant,’ which became part of an anthology film I did called ‘D.C. Noir.’ … and then Alexa is a very accomplished still photographer.”

So, when the siblings approached him about “Fishbowl,” he leapt at the chance.

“I was in between seasons on ‘The Deuce’ and I had a window,” Pelecanos said.

“I like these low-budget films where everybody just gets together to make a movie. … This is a really good film. People are going to be surprised and they should check it out, because it’s not the usual thing that you see gobbling up on streaming,” he said.

What exactly makes the film next level to him?

“It’s a mystery story in the vein of a David Lynch, if I can be so bold,” Pelecanos said. “People used to go to movies and then go out to a bar or a coffee shop and talk about it. You’re not hit over the head with the resolution. It leaves a lot of questions. It’s that kind of film. I think people will be talking about it after they’ve seen it.”

Lynch is one of Alexa’s favorite filmmakers, her favorite movies being “Blue Velvet,” “On the Waterfront” and “Paris, Texas.”

Stephen loves “The Village,” “No Country for Old Men” and “The Wrestler,” while Pelecanos’ all-time favorite is “The Wild Bunch.”

“There’s a book called ‘The Westerns of Sam Peckinpah’ where they devote 100 pages to that film,” Pelecanos said. “When you read those 100 pages, you’ll realize that film is one of the great works of art of the 20th century. It actually changed my life. I saw it with my dad in the theater first run. I walked out like, ‘That’s what I want to do.'”

Do they have any advice for other aspiring filmmakers in Maryland?

“Everybody wants to get into Sundance, Toronto, all that stuff, and chances are you’re not going to get in; it’s a very political process, it’s about connections,” Pelecanos said.

“Make a good film, that’s my advice. … Just don’t get discouraged because you don’t get into the biggest [festival]. It doesn’t mean that your film doesn’t have worth.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Fishbowl' (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2020 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up