‘A Snowy Day in Oakland’: La Jolla producer’s new film celebrates ‘the importance of community’
John Cappetta says the movie, which opens Friday, March 17, reflects his desire to tell stories with relatable themes ‘from a very different vantage point.’
La Jolla resident and executive producer John Cappetta will debut his new film, “A Snowy Day in Oakland,” on Friday, March 17, as what he calls “a celebration of the importance of community and belonging in our lives.”
He spoke with the La Jolla Light about how his relationships in and out of La Jolla impact his filmmaking.
“A Snowy Day in Oakland” is about a psychologist from San Francisco, played by Nicole Ari Parker, who decides to end a stalled romance with her boyfriend and business partner, a high-profile psychiatrist.
She moves back across the bay to her native Oakland and opens a private practice in a vacant streetfront office space in the middle of a small commercial block in a neighborhood described as “predominantly African American and psychologically ignored.”
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“There’s a barbershop/beauty shop. There’s a storefront church, there’s a little bodega. There’s a struggling clothing store,” Cappetta said. “All of these business owners really don’t quite know what to make about this seemingly very wealthy neighbor that’s moved in with a therapist couch.”
Cappetta said the movie is light and enjoyable, a mood that enables it to explore themes like the importance of mental health and therapy, particularly in the Black community, “where they have not embraced it as much and there’s a real need.”
“I’m very, very proud of the film,” Cappetta said.
Cappetta entered the project with his longtime friend and writer-director Kim Bass, with whom Cappetta created the 2022 film “Tyson’s Run.”
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Cappetta said his relationship with Bass contributes to him pursuing filmmaking projects with diverse and touching story lines.
In “A Snowy Day in Oakland,” the owners of the barbershop/beauty salon are a couple who have been divorced for 15 years but continue to be business partners.
The setting resonated with Cappetta, whose father was a barber and owned a shop in West Los Angeles for 40 years.
“A lot of the major aspects of human life, the celebrations and the sorrows and the need for a tender ear … happen at a barbershop,” Cappetta said.
“What’s very interesting to me [in this movie is] you have a church and you have a barbershop and then you have this therapist move in next door. … All three of these things are the places that we go for sort of comfort and support,” he said.
“I was really drawn to that idea of mental health … and making it accessible and presentable and light and fun was meaningful to me. I also think juxtaposing it to the church and the barbershop were also really meaningful.
“I felt like this was a good place for Kim and I to start.”
Cappetta said his relationships drive all his projects and that he seeks out people who share his worldview “to tell really important stories that aren’t otherwise getting told.”
He said he’s committed to films that celebrate inclusion and diversity, “that address humanity’s biggest issues in an inspiring way.”
“A Snowy Day in Oakland” has all those elements, Cappetta said: “Everybody can relate to these characters” because of the “universal themes.”
Cappetta said it’s important to see relatable themes “from a very different vantage point, and getting inside another place that’s not our day to day” fosters recognition of “our common humanity [and] our common sense of issues and challenges.”
Cappetta grew up in Los Angeles and attended the University of San Diego. He worked in banking on the East Coast for 20 years, then moved back to California 17 years ago, settling in Rancho Santa Fe.
He and his wife, Nancy Jo Cappetta, sent their children to The Bishop’s School in La Jolla and became engaged in the La Jolla community. They moved to La Jolla six years ago.
“La Jolla is really important to us,” John Cappetta said.
Cappetta said his approach to film producing is to tell stories that encourage people to leave their insular communities, noting his own propensity to stay in La Jolla simply because “it’s my place.”
Cinema “gives us the chance to completely twist or change our perspective,” he said. “It’s a fully immersive experience when you see it in the movie theater. … You are drawn in and you are seeing life from somebody else’s perspective, in somebody else’s setting.”
That “changes how you see and understand the world around us,” Cappetta said.
“A Snowy Day in Oakland” will be shown in San Diego at the AMC Mission Valley theater and Reading Cinemas Town Square in Clairemont, Cappetta said. Home streaming options also will be available.
Cappetta said “you make a movie four times,” the first three being scriptwriting, filming and post-production.
The fourth time is when people see the movie, he said. “I really hope people will support local independent cinema.” ◆