The Procession


Julie tearfully asks her brother, Jason, and their Mom to attend the funeral of a friend. Mom and Jason would rather not – they’d never even met the deceased woman. But they can’t say no. They do manage to negotiate with Julie, agreeing to go to the service, but not the burial. After the service, Mom and Jason, both famished, try to drive past the cars exiting the church and get stuck in the funeral procession. Mom and Jason realize they have to drive all the way to the cemetery, so as not to break up the procession. Once they get everyone there, Mom and Jason will go on their way without ever stepping foot out of their car. It’s a plan. What isn’t the plan is where Mom and Jason forget they’re in the procession, desperately try to find the cars they were following, and now blindly lead the rest of the procession.



Lily Tomlin in Robert Festinger's The Procession
Lily Tomlin

Photo Steve Granitz – ©

Lily Tomlin rose to national prominence in 1969 on the television series, Laugh-In, with her characterizations of Ernestine, the irascible telephone operator, and Edith Ann, the devilish six year old.  Tomlin went on to star in six comedy television specials between 1973 and 1982, which she also co-wrote with Jane Wagner.  In 1977, Tomlin made her Broadway debut in Appearing Nitely, written and directed by Jane Wagner.  Tomlin next appeared on Broadway in 1985 in Jane Wagner’s critically-acclaimed play, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe.

On film, Tomlin’s debut in Robert Altman’s Nashville (1975) was nominated for an Academy Award, and the New York Film Critics and National Society of Film Critics voted Lily Best Supporting Actress.  She next starred opposite Art Carney in The Late Show (1977) and John Travolta in Jane Wagner’s Moment By Moment (1978); teamed with Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton in the comedy 9 to 5 (1980); starred as The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981) and in Carl Reiner’s All of Me (1984) and teamed with Bette Midler for Big Business (1987).  In the 90’s, Tomlin starred in the film The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life In the Universe (1991); appeared as part of an ensemble cast in Woody Allen’s Shadows and Fog (1992); starred opposite Tom Waits in Robert Altman’s Short Cuts (1993); portrayed Miss Jane Hathaway in The Beverly Hillbillies (1993); starred in the films Flirting With Disaster (1996),  Getting Away with Murder (1996), Krippendorf’s Tribe (1998) and co-starred in Tea With Mussolini (1999).   Tomlin also starred with Bruce Willis in Disney’s The Kid (2000), appeared in Orange County (2002), co-starred in I Heart Huckabee’s (2004), A Prairie Home Companion (2006), and appeared in The Walker (2007) and Pink Panther II (2009).

On television, Tomlin has been seen in many series, including The West Wing, Desperate Housewives, and the FX series, Damages.  Throughout her career, Tomlin has received six Emmys, two Tony Awards, a Grammy, two Peabody Awards and numerous other notable awards for her acting, producing and narrating achievements, and was honored as the 2003 recipient of the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in Washington DC. Tomlin continues to appear around the country in concert performances.  In 2011, she returned to Australia for several concert appearances and participated in the Mardi Gras Festival.  Currently, Tomlin can be seen on Showtime’s new series, Web Therapy, as Lisa Kudrow’s narcissistic mother.  She is also appearing on the CBS hit drama, NCIS.


Jesse Tyler Ferguson in Robert Festinger's The Procession
Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Photo © Drew and Derek Rike

Jesse Tyler Ferguson currently stars as “Mitchell Pritchett” on the Emmy Award-winning ABC comedy MODERN FAMILY. In its first two seasons, the show has earned two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series, a Golden Globe Award for Outstanding Comedy Series and two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. Ferguson has also received two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

No stranger to television, Ferguson received rave reviews and was honored by The Hollywood Reporter in 2006 as one of Ten to Watch for his role on the CBS ensemble sitcom “The Class.” His additional television credits include “Do Not Disturb” and “Ugly Betty.” Film credits include UNTRACEABLE and WONDERFUL WORLD.

The theatre has always been Ferguson’s first love. He attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC and made his Broadway debut at the age of 21 as “Chip” in George C. Wolfe’s revival of On The Town.  He later went on to originate the role of “Leaf Coneybear” in the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (“Outstanding Ensemble Performance” winner, Drama Desk Awards, 2005; “Distinguished Performance” nominee, Drama League Awards, 2005). He has worked extensively with The New York Public Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park in such notable productions as The Merchant of Venice, A Winter’s Tale and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (“Distinguished Performance” nominee, Drama League Awards, 2008), where he performed alongside Al Pacino, Jesse L. Martin, Martha Plimpton and Lily Rabe. Other theatre credits include world premieres of Christopher Shinn’s Where Do We Live and Michael John LaChiusa’s Little Fish.

Ferguson is also an advocate and active supporter of the Human Rights Campaign. In 2011, he was honored with the HRC’s Media Award, which recognizes an individual for establishing a positive, increased awareness of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues in the media.

Ferguson currently resides in Los Angeles.

Lucy Punch

Photo by James Devaney – ©

Lucy Punch most recently starred alongside Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel and Justin Timberlake in Columbia Pictures’ BAD TEACHER, in Paramount Pictures’ Dinner for Schmucks with Steve Carell and Paul Rudd, in Woody Allen’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger with Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins, and Josh Brolin, and A Little Bit of Heaven, alongside Kate Hudson, Kathy Bates, and Gael Garcia Bernal.  Her upcoming projects include The Giant Mechanical Man, written and directed by Lee Kirk, and Yellow, written and directed by Nick Cassavetes.

Punch began her feature film career working opposite Geoffrey Rush in 2004’s The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.  This was followed by the family fantasy, Ella Enchanted, with Anne Hathaway.  In 2006, Punch was chosen as the British Shooting Star by the Berlin Film Festival for her work in Being Julia opposite Annette Bening and Jeremy Irons.  She has also appeared in St. Trinian’s and Edgar Wright’s British action comedy Hot Fuzz.  Punch also worked with Topher Grace and Anna Faris in Universal Pictures’ Young Americans and starred in the musical dramedy Untitled alongside Adam Goldberg and Marley Shelton.

Punch has also appeared in numerous television series in the UK such as “Days Like These,” “Doc Martin,” and “Let Them Eat Cake.”  She made her West End debut as Elaine Robinson in “The Graduate,” directed by Terry Johnson. In 2007, Punch returned to TV in the CBS comedy “The Class” alongside Lizzy Caplan, Jason Ritter and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.  In October of 2010 she starred in the three-part mini-series “Vexed” for BBC opposite Toby Stevens.

Punch was born and raised in London, England.  She divides her time between London and Los Angeles.


The full crew list can be found at The Procession’s IMDB PAGE

Writer / Director: Robert Festinger
Robert Festinger

Rob Festinger makes his directorial film debut with The Procession.

After attending New York University Film School (which he partially funded by doing stand-up comedy), Rob worked as a screenplay reader at HBO Films. It was there he discovered the short story KILLINGS, by Andre Dubus. Rob adapted the story and collaborated with director Todd Field in what eventually became the film, IN THE BEDROOM (2001). Rob and Todd were nominated for an Academy Award, and took home Best Screenplay from The National Board of Review.

Current and recent projects include TRUST (2011), and the romantic dramedy HAMPSTEAD for Ecosse Films in London. He is currently working on THE APPLE for BBC Films and THE ADULTERESS for Parallel Films.

Rob has had the honor of serving as advisor to Australia’s Aurora Film Workshop, headed by Jane Campion. ANIMAL KINGDOM, SOMERSAULT, and THE BLACK BALLOON are among the films Rob script consulted on.

Rob spends his time in both London and Los Angeles. He is represented by Lucinda Prain at Casarotto, Ramsay and Associates in London, and by Adam Levine at Verve Talent and Literary Agency in Los Angeles.

Producer: Tatiana Kelly
Tatiana Kelly

Tatiana’s first feature WRISTCUTTERS: A LOVE STORY released by Lionsgate starring Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon, Will Arnett, Leslie Bibb, and Tom Waits earned her an Independent Spirit nomination, premiered at Sundance, was screened in over thirty film festivals, and was an eight-time Best Feature winner. She went on to produce HAPPINESS RUNS recently out in theaters featuring Rutger Hauer, and Andie Macdowell, SMOTHER starring Taryn Manning.

Producer: Roberta Munroe
Roberta Munroe

Roberta Marie Munroe is author of How Not To Make A Short Film: Secrets From A Sundance Programmer (Hyperion, 2009), a provocative and practical insider’s guide to making and distributing a great short film. How Not To Make A Film has remained an Amazon Best Seller since its publication.

From 2001-2006, Roberta programmed short films at The Sundance Film Festival during which time the Online Film Festival won several coveted Webby Awards. Roberta was instrumental in launching The Blackhouse Foundation, which supports African American filmmakers, and served astheir founding Artistic Director.

Executive Producer: Jill Stern
Jill Stern Executive Producer The Procession

Jill is thrilled to be making her executive producing debut with The Procession. Jill is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and also studied acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Jill was casting assistant to Howard Feuer for many years, and worked in several capacities at The Public Theater in New York and the Royal Court Theatre in London.
Jill has served on the Theater Faculty at Interlochen Center of the Arts in Michigan, currently has a busy acting coaching studio and is a member of SAG-AFTRA.


Produced by
Darren Bernstein …. executive producer
Scott Bernstein …. executive producer
Amy Brown …. executive producer
Nicole Colombie …. line producer
Tatiana Kelly …. producer
Nick Morton …. executive producer
Roberta Marie Munroe …. producer
Nikki Nardizzi …. executive producer
Melissa and Adam Perzin …. executive producer
Rick Rosenthal …. executive producer
Sheila and Larry Sachs …. executive producer
Tara Sandler …. executive producer
Jill Stern …. executive producer
Barry and Marsha Wachman …. executive producer
Original Music by
Jon Wygens
Cinematography by
Joel Deutsch
Film Editing by
Lucia Zucchetti
Casting by
Richard Hicks
David Rubin
Production Design by
Michael Fitzgerald
Costume Design by
Frank Helmer
Makeup Department
Elena Arroy …. makeup department head
Bonita DeHaven …. personal makeup artist
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Cara Brown …. second assistant director
Matthew Crossett …. first assistant director
Art Department
Lane Cheek …. set dresser
Sound Department
Gerard Abeille …. sound editor
Camera and Electrical Department
Jaswinder Bedi …. second assistant camera
Timothy Dynice …. grip
Nina Florez …. second assistant camera
Nathan Harris …. best boy electric
Joe Kocsis …. digital imaging technician
Quentin Lareau …. key grip
Eric W. Smith …. first assistant camera
Hitoshi Tomonori …. gaffer
Other crew
Ann M. Doria …. script supervisor
Marcin Nadolny …. aerial unit
Merrel Davis …. Web Master / Design Implementation


Site by: Marshmallow Revolver Industries / Merrel Davis



Robert Festinger

Academy award nominated Writer / Director Rob Festinger talks a bit about the impetus of The Procession:

When we were ten years old, my best friend Tara Sandler and I would linger in the lobby of Bloomfield Cinema in our hometown of Bloomfield, CT. We’d wait till we spotted what we hoped were a liberal couple of adults and ask them to take our money, purchase our tickets and accompany us into the theatre, where we would then separate from them and watch the latest R-rated movie we’d been pining over.

I loved movies. I was blessed to have come of age in the 1970s, when I was exposed to the best films in the best era of American film. And though I idolized Friedkin and Lumet and Pollack, in truth I was aching to be another Neil Simon or James L. Brooks or Woody Allen, the guys who could take their abandoned inner children and let them drive their intimate stories of oversensitive, self-absorbed and ultimately moving characters. It was those characters that touched my 10-year old heart and soothed my 10-year-old jumpy nervous system. They were like family, in my very loud and loving home.

Many (many) years later, I was lucky enough to get my screenwriting break with IN THE BEDROOM. It wasn’t a film exactly known for its guffaws. For the next several years my bread would be buttered by an endless development-stream of dramas, or “psychological suspense thriller,” in the current Hollywood parlance. (Mention “drama” in a pitch meeting and you’re laughed out of the room.) But I knew that I still wanted to do two things – write a comedy, and direct a film.

The idea for The Procession wasn’t difficult to come by, as it really happened, to me and my mother. Without giving too much away, my mother and I actually got a funeral procession lost. Like, really, really lost. The dialogue has all changed, but the set up and most of the broadstroke circumstances are based on the ridiculous truth. The story seemed to be the perfect set-up for the comedy I aspired to — an outrageous real-life situation revolving around neurotic, argumentative, loving characters. So, after years of procrastinating, I had simply run out of excuses. I had to make the film.

At a certain point I had the three actors, Lily Tomlin, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Lucy Punch, all in the same room rehearsing. I remember thinking this must be what my heroes felt, this indescribable sensation of seeing brilliant actors take one’s comedy to a whole new level. And how good they were about to make me look.

Like so many personal films, this one was made with the invaluable contributions and efforts of those who had no connection to the original, personal story. And it also includes some of those who are very close to me. I am particularly grateful to my great friend Jill Stern, who moved New Jersey mountains to get this film financed; producer Tatiana Kelly, who was unwavering in her commitment to our little short film that increasingly took on the marathon-like scope of a feature; casting director David Rubin, a warm soufflé of brilliance and patience; Lucia Zucchetti , my uncanny life-saving editor (and, oh yes, wife); and, finally, to bring it all full circle, Tara Sandler, now a very successful TV producer, who was one of the generous financiers of the film. To everyone involved, I hope I made you proud.





Anti-Epic Flirts and Jokes ‘Stars in Shorts’Review

The sharpest and funniest movie, The Procession, written and directed by Robert Festinger, stars Lily Tomlin and Jesse Tyler Ferguson as a squabbling mother and son pressured into attending the funeral of a woman they didn’t know. Stuck in the funeral procession, they accidentally find themselves leading the other cars toward the cemetery with no idea where to go. Ms. Tomlin, as a saltier contemporary version of her Tasteful Lady character, is at her wickedly satirical peak playing an entitled woman whose only serious concern is finding a good restaurant…


Small Gems on the Big Screen

Sometimes it’s a gem, as with “The Procession,” a delightfully dark 13-minute comedy starring Lily Tomlin and Jesse Tyler Ferguson as a bickering mother and son who are stuck in an automotive funeral cortege for a person they don’t even know…


A spectacular collection of seven star-studded short films from ShortsHD, ‘Stars in Shorts’

While the collection is a varied set of stories, perhaps the funniest short features out actors Lily Tomlin and Jesse Tyler Ferguson as a mother and son who are guilted into attending a funeral for a stranger, then find themselves inadvertently leading the motorcade in The Procession. The short is full of laugh-out-loud moments, whether it’s Tomlin proclaiming that when her husband dies, she’s going to hire “a weeping hooker” to attend his funeral, or Ferguson unsuccessfully trying to manage his mother’s neuroses and biting critiques while the two are held captive in the car…


Indie & Arthouse films

The best of the bunch is “The Procession,” in which Lily Tomlin and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (of the sitcom “Modern Family”) play a mother and son hilariously bonding in a car in Los Angeles traffic as they attempt to find a way to leave the procession for the funeral of someone they didn’t even know.


Stars in Shorts

Stars in Shorts wisely opens with two of the strongest films, the comedy “The Procession”…



My personal favorite of the seven is easily The Procession, which places Lily Tomlin and Jesse Tyler Ferguson as mother and son, is a funeral procession for a funeral they don’t even want to attemd. Written and directed by Robert Festinger, co-writer of In the Bedroom, he puts these two great comedians in a comedy of errors that works brilliantly. The two have been asked to go to a funeral by their daughter/sister Susan, also played by the wonderful Lucy Punch, for one of her friends that they’ve never met. The duo tries to sneak off after to go eat, but instead get stuck in the middle of the funeral procession, then end up leading the procession. The back-and-forth between Tomlin and Ferguson is great and the scaling of their predicament keeps The Procession consistent throughout, to form the most successful of any of the shorts.


Review: Seven Shorts Showcase Rare Performances

The premise of “The Procession” is dark comic gold: a mother and son attend a funeral of a woman they don’t know, but accidentally stop at a red light during the procession from funeral to burial, blindly leading half of the mourners to a randomly selected graveyard. Tomlin plays a preposterously hilarious, self-involved snoot, who is primarily concerned about the possibility of prosciutto at the reception….


Stars in Shorts

Comedians Lily Tomlin and Jesse Tyler Ferguson star in this hilarious short written and directed by Robert Festinger. The writing is so very much in line with Larry David’s “let’s find the funny in common situations” shtick that he’s made a trademark out of in both Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Considering Robert Festinger was an Academy Award™ nominee for the very un-funny In the Bedroom, I’m pleasantly surprised he’s able to deliver so many laughs in this short, which had me barking mad with laughter far more than I care to admit.


My Central Jersey Writes about The Procession, Starring Lily Tomlin, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Lucy Punch, Written and Directed by Academy Award Nominated Robert Festinger
Edison native’s film gets four screenings during Tribeca Film Festival
Robert Festinger makes directorial debut in ‘The Procession
There are no wrong turns in the short comedy film, “The Procession,” by Edison native Robert Festinger.

Not unless you consider the wrong turn that leads the two main characters — along with dozens of grieving mourners — away from a burial. Festinger takes a solemn component of life — a funeral procession — and turns it into a wacky and warm comment on family, obligation and life’s left-turn moments…


Festinger says his passion for theater can be traced to his years at J.P. Stevens

Edison native’s film to debut at Tribeca
Festinger says his passion for theater can be traced to his years at J.P. Stevens

Film director Robert Festinger said his time spent in the drama club at John P. Stevens High School led to what he is doing today.

“I moved to Edison when I was 13 years old,” he said. “It is such an awkward time to move, but I met Jill [Stern] and when we attended J.P. Stevens we joined the drama department.”…


The best part of a film festival is the wonderful people that you usually meet there, and the feedback that you get from them.

“… The Procession directed by Robert Festinger, was another great short that made me laugh really loud in the Theater. Amazing selection of films at Tribeca. Really proud to be here…”



Executive producer Jill Stern, writer Robert Festinger, and actor John Fisher…

“… Attend the “Escape Clause” Shorts Program during the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival at the AMC Lowes Village on April 19, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images).”



Comedienne Lily Tomlin to bring her characters to midstate

“Tomlin will soon begin shooting a short film directed by Rob Festinger, who was nominated for an Oscar for co-adapting the screenplay for 2001’s “In the Bedroom.” Her co-star will be Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who stars as Mitchell on ABC’s “Modern Family.”

“I’m really looking forward to it; it’s a really funny idea,” Tomlin said. “Jesse and I play a mother and son who get caught in a funeral procession.”



Short films steal spotlight at Tribeca Film Festival

“Lily Tomlin and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (“Modern Family”) deliver the most laughs as a head-butting mother and son in “The Procession.” Pitied into attending the funeral of a stranger, the two attempt to escape only to find themselves in a bigger mess. It is simply worth watching as Tomlin gawks over the wonders of an iPhone while Ferguson erupts in an outburst of impatience as anyone would at a technologically challenged mother.”



Stars in shorts are always fun to see, and this year’s crop features Lily Tomlin and Jesse Tyler Ferguson in the world premiere of The Procession.

“I think it’s enjoyable to see a familiar face in a short, especially if you are not familiar with them in a short format piece. It adds nice spice in a program, but I would never put a short in a program just because it has a celebrity it in. It goes back to the story. It’s the story—not the actor—that carries the short.”




Many times you only see these films at festivals so I highly recommend the opportunity to see these presented together on the big screen. There is no consistent thread to the seven films other than they star famous actors including some Oscar winners.
THE PROCESSION (12 Minutes – Directed by Robert Festinger) – Lily Tomlin and Jesse Tyler Ferguson are mother and son driving in a procession for a funeral of someone they don’t know. They stop at a stop light and lead most of the cars to a cemetery…



The Procession is now part of the film collection “Stars In Shorts” Visit the Stars in Shorts webpage, and click on “Dates and Locations” to look for screenings near you.

You can also download “Stars In Shorts” on iTunes Directly below:




Edmonton International Film Festival
Calgary International Film Festival
BendFilm Festival
Washington West Film Festival
Norway Film Festival
California Independent Film Festival
Washington Film Festival
Trimedia Film Festival
Big Bear Lake Film Festival
Louisville International Film Festival
Williamstown Film Festival
Milwaukee Film Festival
Salt Lake City Film Festival
Asiana International Short Film Festival
Tribeca Film Festival
Catalina Film Festival
Provincetown International Film Festival
Palm Springs International Film Festival
Nantucket Film Festival
Philadelphia Film Festival
Savannah Film Festival
Lewiston Auburn Film Festival
Kansas City Film Festival
Rincon International Film Festival


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