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The Impressionable Years

Feature   |   France - Italy

Serein Productions (France - Lead Producer)

Production Status: In Development


Genre: Historical Drama/Adventure

Language: French/Italian/English

Tagline:  The early years of Edgar Degas were spent in Paris and Italy, culminating in a forbidden love when he travels to New Orleans to find his Mother's family deep in dishonor, bankruptcy, during the desperate years of the Reconstruction of the US Civil War.


Logline:  The early years of Edgar Degas were spent in France and Italy with his father's in wealth and privilege,  then at a crossroads in his artistic career, Edgar Degas travels to New Orleans in 1872 to rescue his American family, whose cotton business is failing, leaving them on the brink of bankruptcy. While painting the new world, he falls deeply in love with his brother’s blind and strikingly beautiful wife, Estelle. We explore his life in New Orleans, his experiences in this foreign land. He then returns to Paris with a new energy and vision in his paintings. In Paris he joins a movement of young painters which later becomes known as the Impressionists. Set in Paris, Italy and New Orleans, DEGAS THE IMPRESSIONABLE YEARS peers into the early years before his meteoric rise to become one of history's greatest painters. 


Production Company:  Serein Productions (France)


Written & Produced by: Carol Bidault de l'Isle


Co-Writers/Executive Producers: Rory Schmitt & Rosary O'Neill


Based on a play and research by Rosary O'Neill


Similar films: RENOIR & VAN GOGH


Locations: France, Italy, New Orleans​

FINANCING IN PLACE: 80% (In Equity and Tax incentives)



Raised in Paris and Italy, Edgar Degas later visits New Orleans, in order to reconnect with his mother's family and find peace. What he finds are scandals, oppressive racism, and the never-ending threat of poverty and death. Edgar confronts the scandal of what has happened to his American family, the bankruptcy of his uncle, and the bigamous affair of his brother with his next-door neighbor.


Unable to control his fascination with his stunning and blind sister-in-law, Edgar paints portraits of Estelle in a mad fervor. Their intense love affair kindles his spirit and makes him question everything.


Edgar tries to salvage his family life and find a new direction for his painting and reclaim some meaning in his life. The film exposes the scandal between Edgar and René Degas, which kept them from speaking for ten years. The story explores pivotal events that led Degas to return to Paris with a focused, new direction in his artwork: Impressionism.

Bios: of Co-Writers:  Rory O’Neill Schmitt & Rosary O'Neill

Rory O’Neill Schmitt, PhD

Rory O’Neill Schmitt, Ph.D. is a writer, visual artist, and filmmaker. A 7th generation New Orleanian, Rory co-wrote Edgar Degas: The Impressionable Years screenplay because she identified Degas’s trip to New Orleans as the catalyst to his launching his career. She looks forward to bringing these early years of artist's life to the silver screen.

Rosary Hartel O’Neill, PhD

Rosary Hartel O’Neill, Ph.D., a 6th generation, Louisiana native, lives in New Orleans and New York City. She is the author of seven published books and twenty-five plays (Samuel French, Inc.)

Her pantheon includes a 12-episode TV series, written under five fellowships with David Black of Law and Order at Harvard University and Norman Mailer’s homes in Provincetown, Maine and Brooklyn, New York. Her screenplays include: Naked in New Orleans and The Vampire’s Last Bite, now in development at Herbert Berghoff Studios, NYC. Her play, John Singer Sargent and Madame X have been optioned for a movie. O’Neill is also the creator of a New Orleans TV series in development, Garden District.

​Her play, Degas in New Orleans, first produced at the Sorbonne, will be heralded in Paris in 2021 at the American Embassy and has been developed into a historical novel and a screenplay, Edgar Degas: The Impressionable Years.

Rosary is candid about the fact that her play, although strongly rooted in history, is a work of fiction. It focused on the concept that Edgar and his married cousin, Telle, may have been secretly in love, although the exact details of their actual relationship remain unknown.

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