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Indulge Your Senses in Narragansett

Warm winds blow beneath an indigo sky. Stars glitter and fade in their endless game as the first note of a lilting melody is heard above the ebb and flow of the tide….

And so begins an evening of music on Narragansett Beach as the Rhode Island Philharmonic plays their annual concert on July 13. And this is just one of many many delightful things you can do on this narrow strip of land.

For years, Narragansett attracted the monied, well-to-do in-crowd — 169 years to be exact. Joseph Heatly Dulles of Philadelphia, a cotton broker, met with Rowland G. Hazard, a textile mill owner from Peace Dale, to talk shop and do some business. Dulles was so taken with the beauty of the landscape that he brought all his family and friends back the following summer. In those days there were great travel restrictions, so they came for months on end. Narraganset became its own town in 1901 due to heavy resort activity. In fact, the rich and powerful came from all over to partake of sporting, culinary and cultural events – and at the center of their action was the historic Narragansett Pier Casino. It burned to the ground in 1900, but was rebuilt and resumed operations 10 years later.

Ah, but the beach was the thing. It still is. It’s the playground of the ocean lovers, rich or poor. There are no boring spots on this crescent of land, no sir. But even if you’re not a beachgoer, this quaint little bustling community offers numerous ways to while away your summertime hours.

‘Gansett has a trolley service! Park for the day and hop on — tour the whole town if you want to. nstsri.com/schedule-info

Then you have to eat, right? Get over to Crazy Burger at 144 Boon Street. Besides the best damn burger you’ve ever had and the most creative menu you’ve ever witnessed, they serve one of the most delicious breakfasts on the planet. They also do mouthwatering smoothies, frozen lemonade and milkshakes. Their dinners are to die for, so please go back for those! Their eclectic feel and outdoor seating under the greenery and lights is reason enough to go back.

Want to work off some of that breakfast? Try hiking the Black Point Trail. It offers stunning ocean vistas as it winds around the dirt trail in a southerly direction. You can wander from the trail and explore the huge granite boulders and tide pools. The trails ends at Scarborough State Beach where the coolest old stone foundation can also be explored (be careful here though — people have slipped off the black rocks and drowned). There’s excellent fishing in this area for striped bass, blue fish and scup. Point Judith Lighthouse is just a few miles to the south, so you’ll want to get a glimpse of her statuesque beauty.

If you want to catch some rays, get onto the Town Beach (yep, that one) — hit the sand early as it does fill up. You can’t go to Narragansett Beach without seeing the famous wall. It runs a length of Ocean Road, starting near the old town well at So. Pier and Ocean Roads, and culminates at this always-busy crescent of sand. Sit and watch the surfers do their thing, swim or take in the scenery.  It attracts all manner of people – bikers, sun bathers, bikini watchers, people driving by to see or be seen, or just those sitting on the wall eating lunch. On the sand, join the local crowd at Chair 5. If the crowds are not your thing – here’s a list of other beaches to suit your fancy:

Capt. Roger Wheeler State Beach – calm water, great playground, good for families; Sand Hill Cove – a family beach closer to the shops and eateries in Galillee; Scarborough State Beach – this beach sees a lot of action – great waves, surfers everywhere

Sip on cool summer time drinks, you say? Head over to Turtle Soup at 113 Ocean Blvd, right across from the beach. There’s lawn seating with a bar outside with gorgeous ocean views.

A snack might be in order (or a whole lunch). Trek over to Monahans – the Clam Shack is back. It’s unfussy, and it’s right on the seawall. Go get your food and sit outside under the umbrellas. No reservations needed, it’s dog-friendly and it’s located at South Pier and Ocean Roads.

If it’s a Friday evening, catch the music under the gazebo in the center of town – grab a blanket or a chair, listen to some great music and check out the scenery. The concerts are free and open to the public, and they start at 6pm. narragansettri.gov/546/Gazebo-SummerFall-Concerts

Now, you can’t leave Narragansett without going to the Towers, those beautiful iconic structures of stone at 35 Ocean Road. They once functioned as the entrance to the Casino. Lots of things happen here — from bands on Thursday nights to ballroom dancing lessons every Wednesday night. They also give free tours by appointment. thetowersri.com/events

TowersRI

For a daytime excursion, try kayaking the Narrow River. You can bring your own kayak like I do, or rent one. There’s a cool sand bar where you can pull up with your picnic lunch and just relax. Take in the scenery of the ever-changing mouth of the river — on a hot day it’s wonderful! (But be careful if you go beyond the mouth; it’s open water and if you’re not an experienced sea kayaker, it can be dangerous.) You can even walk across the dunes to the beach or paddle up to the general store at Middlebridge Road for a treat. You also can rent canoes and paddleboards. narrowriverkayaks.com/id17.html

Spend a day in Galillee, a beautiful little fishing village overlooking the Block Island Sound. It has some of the best food, the coolest little shops and some great music. Salty Brine State Beach is here, and it’s one of the best beaches for kids because it’s calm and protected by jetties all around. It’s tucked right next to the Pt. Judith Waterway where you can watch fishing boats and the Block Island Ferry go in and out of Rhody’s largest fishing port. From here, you can hop on the ferry and take a day trip to the Block, which offers great biking, eateries, beaches, boating and more. If you do, make sure you stop at the Yellow Kittens, a bar at 214 Corn Neck Rd, or the Oar at 221 Jobs Hill Rd, two of my faves.

If getting’ happy and listening to jams is your thing – try the upstairs deck at Georges of Galillee – music on weekends and on Thursdays, and burgers ‘n’ beer all day long. They have six dining rooms on two floors, al fresco dining and a take-out window. georgesofgalilee.com/events/.to

Over the bridge from Galillee is Great Island, a quiet and beautiful place to take a stroll. You can always get a little crazy afterward at Buster Krab’s at 265 Great Island Rd, a stress-free zone with bright colors, good food and fun drinks. It’s good for kids, too.

If you feel like a daredevil, go to Adventureland! Try their newest attraction, Big Air Jumping (suitable for all ages and abilities) or try go-karts, batting cages, mini golf or bumper boats. It’s loads of fun and you can stuff yourself with ice cream after! adventurelandri.com/attractions

One of the most beautiful things I have seen in Narragansett is the silver moonlight on the water from the upper deck at the Coast Guard House, right next to the Towers. Sip on a hot Irish coffee with your fisherman sweater on. The view is gorgeous and the warmth feels good.

Whatever vantage point you have, you can indulge all of your senses in this town, from food to music to great hangouts and fabulous ocean vistas. This is only a small sampling, so come down and sea for yourself all Narragansett has to offer.




Narragansett in the Summer

What’s there to do in the oceanside town of Narragansett — that narrow strip of land running along the eastern bank of the Pettaquamscutt River to the shore of Narragansett Bay? There’s plenty – for young and old, singles, couples, family and date nights, rich or not so rich.

For years, Narragansett attracted the monied, well-to-do in-crowd — 169 years to be exact — since Joseph Heatly Dulles of Philadelphia, a cotton broker, met with Rowland G. Hazard, a textile mill owner from Peace Dale to talk shop and do some business. Dulles was so taken with the beauty of the landscape that he brought all his family and friends back the following summer. The rich and powerful came from all over to partake of sporting, culinary and cultural events, and at the center of their action was the historic Narragansett Pier Casino. It burnt to the ground in 1900, but was rebuilt and resumed operations 10 years later.

Oh, but the beach — the beach was the thing. It still is.

Today, Narragansett Beach is the playground of the ocean lovers. There are no boring spots on this span of sand, no sir. Even if you’re not a beach goer, Narragansett offers numerous ways to while away your summertime hours in this quaint little bustling community.

Here’s how I like to spend a day in Narragansett, or a few days. I’m an outdoor girl with a penchant for beautiful scenery, so it would go something like this:

All Aboard! ‘Gansett now has a trolley service and you can park, hop on and tour the whole town if you want to. Find info for the red and green lines here: nstsri.com/schedule-info

You have to eat, right? So, get over to Crazy Burger at 144 Boon Street. Besides the best damn burger you’ve ever had and the most creative menu you’ve ever experienced, they serve one of the most delicious breakfasts on the planet. They also do mouthwatering smoothies, frozen lemonade and milkshakes. Their dinners are to die for, so please go back for those! Their eclectic feel and outdoor seating under the greenery and lights is reason enough to go back.

Want to work off some of that breakfast? Try hiking the Black Point Trail. It offers stunning ocean vistas as it winds around the dirt trail in a southerly direction. You can wander from the trail and explore the huge granite boulders or find some tide pools to examine. The trails ends at Scarborough State Beach where the coolest old stone foundation can also be explored (be careful here though — people have slipped off the black rocks and drowned). There’s excellent fishing in this area for striped bass, blue fish and Scup. Point Judith Lighthouse is just a few miles to the south, so you’ll want to get a glimpse of her statuesque beauty.

If you want to catch some rays, get onto the Town Beach (yep, that one). Hit the sand early as it does fill up. You can’t go to Narragansett Beach without seeing the famous “Wall.” It runs a length of Ocean Road starting near the old town Well at So. Pier Road and Ocean Road, and culminates at this interesting and always busy crescent of sand. Sit and watch the surfers do their thing, swim or take in the scenery. It attracts all manner of people – bikers, sun bathers, bikini watchers, people driving by to see or be seen, or just those sitting on the wall eating lunch. On the sand, join the local crowd at Chair 5. If the crowds are not your thing – here’s a list of other beaches to suit your fancy:

Capt. Roger Wheeler State Beach – calm water, great playground, good for families

Sand Hill Cove – a great family beach closer to the shops and eateries in Galillee

Scarborough State Beach – this beach sees a lot of action with great waves and surfers everywhere

Maybe next you’d like to sip on cool summertime drinks. Head over to Turtle Soup, right across from the beach. There’s lawn seating with a bar outside and great ocean views. Turtle Soup is at 113 Ocean Blvd. They’re open from 11:30am to 1am.

A snack might be in order (or a whole lunch). Trek over to Monahans – the Clam Shack is back. It’s “unfussy” and it’s right on the seawall, so go get your food and enjoy sitting outside under the umbrellas. Not fancy at all, no reservations needed, and it’s dog friendly. It’s located at South Pier and Ocean Roads.

If it happens to be a Friday eve, catch the music under the gazebo in the center of town. Grab a blanket or a chair, listen to some great music and enjoy the scenery and people watching. The concerts are free and open to the public, and they start at 6pm. narragansettri.gov/546/Gazebo-SummerFall-Concerts

Now, you can’t leave Narragansett without going to The Towers, those beautiful iconic structures of stone at 35 Ocean Road. They once functioned as the entrance to the Casino. Lots of things happen here, from great bands on Thursday nights to ballroom dancing lessons on Wednesday nights. They give free tours by appointment. thetowersri.com/events

For a daytime excursion, try kayaking the Narrow River – it’s a blast! You can bring your own kayak like I do, or rent one from them. There’s a cool sand bar there, where you can pull up with your picnic lunch and just relax. Take in the scenery of the ever-changing mouth of the river. On a hot day it’s wonderful! (Be careful if you do go beyond the mouth. It’s open water and if you’re not an experienced sea kayaker, it can be dangerous). You can even walk across the dunes to the beach, or paddle up to the general store at Middlebridge Road for a treat. You can bring/rent canoes and paddleboards, too. narrowriverkayaks.com/id17.html

Spend a day in Galillee. It‘s a beautiful little fishing village overlooking the Block Island Sound and has some of the best food, the coolest little shops and some great music. Salty Brine State Beach  is here, too. It’s one of the best beaches for kids because it’s calm and protected by jetties all around, and it’s tucked right next to the Pt. Judith Waterway. Watch the boats go in and out of Rhody’s largest fishing port and see the Block Island Ferry making her daily trips. You can even hop on the ferry and take a day trip to the Block, which offers great biking, eateries, beaches, boating and more. If you do, make sure you stop at the Yellow Kittens, a great bar at 214 Corn Neck Road, or at the Oar, 221 Jobs Hill Road. They’re two of my faves.

If getting’ happy and listening to jams is your thing, try the upstairs deck at George’s of Galillee. This place is rockin’ with music on weekends and half price bottles of wine on Thursdays. Or you can try any one of six different dining rooms on two floors, al fresco dining or a take-out window. georgesofgalilee.com/events/.to

Over the bridge from Galillee, there’s a great place to take a stroll by the small hills while looking out at the water. It’s peaceful here and people are friendly. This is Great Island, and it’s quiet and beautiful. You can always get a little crazy afterward at Buster Krab’s, a stress-free zone with bright colors, good food and fun drinks. It’s good for kids, too. Sit outside and enjoy the view at 265 Great Island Road.

If you feel like a daredevil, go to Adventureland! Try their newest attraction, Big Air Jumping (suitable for all ages and abilities) or try Go-karts, Batting Cages, Mini Golf or Bumper Boats. It’s loads of fun and you can stuff yourself with ice cream after. What’s better than that? adventurelandri.com/attractions

One of the most beautiful things I have seen in Narragansett is the silver moonlight on the water, from the vantage point of the Coast Guard House, right next to the Towers. Sip on a hot Irish coffee with your fisherman sweater on (it can get real cool at night there). The view is gorgeous and the warmth feels good.

Whatever vantage point you have, you can indulge all of your senses in this town, from food to excursions to great hangouts. This is only a small sampling, so come down and sea for yourself all it has to offer.




Lunar Notes: New Moon – New Beginnings

Wednesday, February 10, 2016, with waxing Moon in Pisces and Venus rolling in the hay with Jupiter, we are not much concerned with the material world. We receive psychic impressions and sense intangible forces at work. In the night sky the Moon is a fingernail that will continue to expand until it reaches fullness on the 22nd. It may be tough getting through this hump day, especially if work and concentration is involved. This energy is good for the artist and the dreamer.  Practical matters take a back seat.

Early Thursday morning, Moon enters aggressive, action-oriented Aries. Waxing Moon in Aries is a great time to start an exercise routine. Aries Moon is great for starting something new. Be sure to think it through before you begin. Folks can be impulsive under this Moon. Friday night — date night — is perfect for a stroll under the moonlight or a night of dancing. Aries Moon craves action. So get out there and act already!

Saturday morning, Moon moves into the more stable sign of Taurus. Change is not on the agenda under a Taurus Moon. It is a fertile sign and whatever is begun under a waxing Moon in Taurus is sure to grow and last. Venus ruled Moon in Taurus is great for long-lasting romance. The danger here is if things go south, it is difficult to break up and break away. An evening out under a Taurus Moon carries with it the warning: When they turn the lights out, it’s time to go home. Taurus Moon doesn’t want it to end.

After sundown, Mercury reenters Aquarius and is soon at the point where it turned retrograde back in January.  Mercury then moves out of that “shadow” and activities and ideas put on hold now really begin to move forward.  Mercury in Aquarius gathers the news and shares it with friends. Exchanging ideas with like-minded and not so like-minded folks is the joy of Mercury in Aquarius. Around this time, Mars makes a positive connection with Jupiter. Mars is action and energy; with Jupiter it means a lot of whatever is on the table. Don’t take on more than you can handle and keep a close eye on your energy levels. This is “sit down before you fall down” time.
Sunday, with Moon in Taurus, is a kick-back day. In the wee hours of Monday, the First Quarter Moon occurs.  Quarter Moons create tension. The square between the Sun and Moon at this particular phase has Mars stirring up the action. Mars in Scorpio stirs up the muck from the bottom of the pot. In dynamic aspect to the Sun and Moon that muck is going to hit the fan. Remember to duck!

During the Monday morning commute, Moon enters Gemini. Gemini Moon rouses our curiosity and we begin to look around to see what going on outside our own little world. Tensions roused by the Quarter Moon can be discussed now. Gemini Moon loves to talk. Moon in an air sign brings a bit of detachment — more logic than emotion. Gemini Moon is great for starting the work week.  Multi-tasking becomes second nature to us all and the usual Monday morning clutter gets cleared up quickly. This light and airy energy spills over into Tuesday. The energy is great for brainstorming, solving puzzles and intellectual pursuits. The mind is quick and gets bored easily. Keep busy and survive the juggling energy of Gemini Moon.




David Gere – Beyond the Shadow of a Doubt

dgI heard about David James Gere shortly after I interviewed his partner in crime, Tommy DeNucci. These two frequently work together, and let’s just say they create waves in the movie world. And, um, he’s not too shabby in the art, wrestling and night life world.

I met Gere on the set of Blue Line, a story about a master thief who pulls off the heist of a lifetime with a jaded police detective hot on her trail. (Hell, yeah – women with firepower!) The film stars veteran actor Tom Sizemore and wrestling legend Kevin Nash. Gere is producing this film with Richard Switzer, the youngest producer in all of filmdom, recently featured on “Entertainment Tonight.” Gere also plays the role of Declan in Blue Line. In addition, he can be seen opposite Jamie Kennedy in Buddy Hutchins, a story about a regular guy pushed to the edge, (DVD and VOD) and Pinwheel, a horror flick to be released later this year.

Things weren’t always so rosy for Gere. As a young boy in his hometown of Cromwell, Conn, he arrived home one day to find that his mother and sister were tragically killed in a mysterious drowning accident. His father, James, an educator, later married Veronica Gere, who raised him. Gere acknowledges that this tragedy may account for his reflective artistry and intense performances.

He has a need to be on the move most of the time – he’s known as “The Man Who Never Sleeps,” after all. Gere attended college at PC, and excelled in athletics, but an injury forced him to rethink how he would spend his time. A film course, which he thought would be an easy ride, turned out to be the turning point in his life. At the insistence of one of his professors, he met with Peter Farrelly (yes, of the brothers Farrelly) and interned for the famous duo for some time. He worked on some big film sets, and gained and even bigger knowledge of the industry. He appeared in Outside Providence, a quirky indie film starring Alec Baldwin. After auditioning for and appearing in many indie films in New England, David’s break came through “Gossip Girl” where he played a character called Frank Meltzer.

Around this time, enter Tommy DeNucci. They knew each other but hadn’t partnered as they are now on many productions. They got together first on Infected, a creepy zombie movie where David had a small role. Tommy later called David and wanted him to act in the film he was writing and directing for Woodhaven Production Company, called Self Storage, starring Eric Roberts, Michael Berryman and others. David knew that he wanted to run with this up-and-comer; he had paid his dues, working for Woodhaven right out of New England Tech, and started at the very bottom of Chad Verdi’s company. Tommy later introduced Gere to Verdi and they’ve made many films since – Army of the Damned, Almost Mercy, and now, we fast forward to Blue Line, with Gere and DeNucci starring and producing the film. Oh, those bad boys. As Tommy puts it, “It’s interesting playing a villain. They’re always so sure of themselves. They have so much confidence; they truly believe that what they’re doing is right, which you don’t find in other characters the way you do with a bad guy.” No wonder these guys have so much fun!

Enter a new chapter in DG’s life – a partnership with the West Coast-based Switzer Entertainment Group, and a valuable connection for him and most of the New England film community. Why? Because these guys plan on bringing more films out to New England, with Blue Line being the first. “We could do two films a year in CT/RI area, and keep our people working. The possibilities are endless and very exciting,” he said. DG also does some producing for Synthetic Cinema, a production house based in Conn, responsible for such films as Dark Haul, Animal and the recently released Wishin and Hopin’.

All this, and we haven’t even touched upon the wrestling persona, his mixed media art, his lounge and nightclub business or his new movie projects. Now I understand why he’s called the “Man Who Never Sleeps.” DG is known for portraying the bad guy “DG Haven” at several pro wrestling organizations, including Revival Pro Wrestling, New England’s premier pro wrestling promotion. “It’s based in Chicopee, Mass. We do a lot of charity work for Special Olympians in Chicopee and the Boys & Girls Club there,” he says proudly.

When he’s not making a film or portraying the villainous DG Haven, he’s creating mixed media art, with abstract portraits being among some of his favorite types of work. You can see DG’s work soon in his upcoming show at his club, Electric Company in Hartford, Conn, which is a slick velvety lounge that attracts artists, writers, actors and celebs. Then you’ve got his nightclub in Meriden, Conn, the Reserve, where movies have been shot, among them Sensory Perception, a sci-fi thriller that he produced and appeared in. Talk about ambition!

DG recently celebrated his 40th  birthday. He’s accomplished more in four decades than most people do in their entire lives. With all his projects in tow, he remains a staunch supporter of New England filmmaking, showing the industry that we got what it takes on this side of the Mississippi.

I look forward to seeing what’s coming next from DG.  Whatever it is, it’ll shine brightly just like the star he is.

Follow DG on Twitter to keep up with his films, appearances, and art show:  @DAVID_GERE

FB page here: https://www.facebook.com/david.gere.58?fref=ts  (he may need several, he is a popular guy)




Scene and Heard: Mama Cast

annie
Photo Credit: Deb Gagnon

This summer was the best. I had the pleasure of working on two big time productions – HBO’s “Newsroom” (in small quarters with the two major stars of that show), and then shortly after, found myself standing two feet from Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix in that oft-talked-about summertime film, the Woody Allen Project. I was called in about three days before on each, and I jumped at the chance. This is, in part, a big thank you to a behind-the-scenes lady who makes it all happen. It’s also a little bit of history on Rhode Island’s own Mama Cast (yup, not Cass). It ain’t easy but she makes it look that way.

Need an old church, or a guy who’s got Louie IV pantaloons and a ruffled shirt? How about people who can show up at a moment’s notice for a park scene or a rock concert mosh pit? A guy with a long, red scraggly beard? No problem. The Hollywood folks know where to go because she’s hot! And, she’s got this great new website, a slew of cool jobs and a bunch of neat-o connections – especially for the actors in these parts!

Who is she? She’s Anne Mulhall of LDI Casting. And how the heck did she get into casting? She was an actor in RI, of course — mostly theater.  She did some auditioning as an actor at CP Casting in Boston, and acted here and there. She made her move to  NY and, lo and behold (you’ll see that phrase more than once in this article), she ended up  starring in her own one woman Lily Tomlin-esque show in NYC, called “Relatively Speaking,”  while also working a regular job. I told you she was impressive. She decided she wanted to get into production and the back end of things, so she moved to LA. Friends in NY and Cali gave her names and numbers, she called a few and, lo and behold (told ya), she gets herself a job on “MAD TV.” Wow. Not bad for a first timer who was tenacious and made a few calls. She ended up as an assistant to one of the executive producers. She observed and learned there how the casting process happened, and also got more involved in work besides “MAD TV.”

It’s now 1999 and she returns to her beloved RI. She did some stage managing for The Gamm Theatre. She also helped Trinity audition actors and saw a ton of people from all over. She also reconnected with CP Casting, but soon realized there wasn’t any casting going on down in Rhody. In 2001, she decided to go out on her own. After watching local commercials and television shows, she’d call the production company and ask, “Who did your commercial?,” pushing for info, making suggestions, and offering help in any way that she could. At that time the work was very sporadic, not even a part time thing. But, as they say, life is change, and things were about to do just that.

It’s around 2006 now. Enter “Brotherhood,” an American television drama series created by Blake Masters about the intertwining lives of the Irish-American Caffee brothers from Providence. “Brotherhood” received widespread critical acclaim with critics particularly praising Masters and Bromell’s nuanced writing and the central performances of the two Jasons, Clarke and Isaacs. The show even won a Peabody Award, but did not attract a large audience.

After producer Elizabeth Guber Stephen was told they couldn’t shoot in Boston due to budget, she worked out a deal with the Rhode Island Film Office to work within the network budget. The RI Film Office’s Steve Feinberg wrote the complex legislation that led to the tax incentives, which was quite an accomplishment on Feinberg’s part. But before that happened, he was responsible for obtaining  a grant to bring the pilot here from its original location in Toronto, even though they had offices there already. It resulted in the show being shot here, definitely a boon for our little state.

The new legislation made it a very busy time for Anne, and LDI was born.

Anne is still a busy lady. Right now, she’s she’s casting for a film from New York, another one called Knightsville, which is a major flick about to be done in RI, and of course stuff that’s under wraps. But that doesn’t stop her from casting  student films. She even got the chance to flex her acting chops recently, in the soon-to-be-released Almost Mercy by Tommy DeNucci and the Woodhaven gang. (It’s fun – go see it).

I asked Anne to name one of the obstacles that keeps our local actors from getting hired more on the Hollywood films that come through our little state. He answer was “talent level,” meaning that if someone lives in LA and goes on auditions constantly and is taking classes and working their craft all the time, then we RI actors should be stepping up our game, too. I know a lot of film actors don’t want to hear this but, hell yeah! Do some stage! Get some coaching, put yourself out there in unfamiliar situations and push yourself beyond your comfort limits so that you can sport the different things that come through your life as an actor. Aw, go on, do it! You know you can.

These days, Anne works out of her space at Kay Studios, which she also manages and markets for the owner and personal friend Greg Gormley. Kay Studios is the only green screen in RI, and is a forerunner in film production, music services and corporate commercials. Other services include constructing and striking sets. Greg and Anne also are opening the studio up to all kinds of things. They’re considering everything and everyone. The space can be used for things like music videos, high school bands, musical band rehearsal or commercial work. They are clearly thinking outside the box.

As crazy as the film business is – as I like to say, the Jenga tower or house of cards that it can be — the business still makes Anne’s heart beat wildly. She knows she should be doing this. She knows she should be doing this in Rhode Island. In addition to finding talent, she can coach and teach someone how to conduct themselves in an audition, and give them the knowledge they need to nail the audition or perfect the role once they’ve got it. Anne is one of those ladies who has a multitude of talents, whether she is in front of the camera, or working the scenes behind it. From anyone’s vantage point, her star is clearly on the rise.

To learn more about Anne Mulhall and LDI Casting and the services she provides, please visit her website at ldipro.com. And also visit the website of Kay Studios for information on their services, which can be found here: kaystudiosri.com/index.asp, or call Greg at 401-865-6306. You’ll be glad you did. And don’t forget – film is rolling people. Especially in Rhode Island.

 




Scene and Heard: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

am

Filmmaking in Rhode Island

Someone once mentioned the institution of marriage when comparing our little state and its high and low points. I love you. I have to be away from you. And so opines this commentator. Much like the quandary that faces most artists in their lifetime … to be seen or to hide from the world. I think the former is winning the war. At least, I’m seeing this trend in the film world. People are staying, and making movies. Some of them are working with big time directors and mega stars of Hollywood. Some are writing very personal stories that move others to sit up and take notice. Still others are maxing out credit cards and taking personal loans to finally make that damn movie, no matter what. I’ve seen some of our professors by day, hunched over their laptops at night, banging away their vision because they have no choice. I’ve seen the mockumentaries being done about this maddening process. And despite the difficulty in getting it done, they get it done. They win awards too.

And the students! I can’t believe the dedication to their art form. Student films abound from URI, RISD and other universities. There’s also the RI Council on the Arts program called the Give Me 5 Lab, a  commando-style filmmaking afternoon for teens, where the kids write, cast, shoot, edit, score and present their work all in one afternoon. Teens who come to mind are Fountain of Youth Films, made up of two ambitious young ladies, Audrey Larson and Shay Martin, who make feature films. Or the RI-based PBS show called “Teenage Critic,” a show written and produced by teens. I have to mention another star on the horizon – the producer of that show, Ms. Lara Sebastian. Sebastian secured a grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for her documentary on education reform in the town of Central Falls, RI. She’s aiming to interview Viola Davis for this doc. And she does all this while running the kitchen at 88 in Providence. Yep, she‘s a chef too. (Some people just amaze me. They really do.)

On the prof end, we have Laura Colella at RISD (who is now taking a sabbatical at Brown to get an advanced degree) who wrote, produced and acted in her film Breakfast With Curtis, and got the attention of none other than Paul Thomas Anderson. Last I heard, Laura was editing Anderson’s newest film, Inherent Vice, due out in January 2015. Or how about Derek Dubois, professor at RIC, who won five awards for his films, has a documentary premiering in August of this year and just finished his newest short, Sinners. Creepy, folks. And his Lucid scared me outright with some terrific work from cast/crew.

Speaking of horror films, we have no shortage there. Our little state has sold more horror films in the last six months and garnered more distro deals than Carter has liver pills. (Ok, do they even say that anymore? Am I dating myself? Probably. Who cares?) There are the boys from 989, Anthony Ambrosino and Nick Delmenico, who, in conjunction with Channel 83 Films, made and sold the horror/sci-fi flick Almost Human after rave reviews at their midnight showing at the Toronto Film Festival. Or how about Ricky Laprade, who sold Villanelle, (a stylish piece around an old poetic art form), and will probably do the same with his film Erebus. Or Jordan Pacheco, a bona-fide paranormal investigator who got his film Provoked distributed.

You can’t talk about horror films without including Woodhaven Production Co. They just wrapped their film, Tommy DeNucci’s Almost Mercy, starring Bill Mosely from Devil’s Rejects. Their parent company, Verdi Films, will produce Bleed for This, a story about boxer Vinny Paz, with Martin Scorsese in RI this July. By the way, Almost Mercy had a hell of a production manager by the name of Mr. Raz Cunningham, who just won Regional Best Feature through the SENE Film Festival for his film Wander My Friends, a flick written and produced by Raz and producer Mel Hardy, about comic book creators and the fight to keep their company. I laughed out loud at this one. Every joke landed, people. Even when the disc stopped playing unexpectedly, we all sat and waited patiently for the fix. (I have the privilege of working on Raz’s next feature film called Special Feature, a mockumentary about the making of an indie film along with Tommy DeNucci as Ricky Ramm, the overbearing, ram-it-down-your-throat DJ.)

I’d be remiss if I did not mention Mr. Richard Marr-Griffin who has 16 films in distribution and is currently filming another one called Sins of Dracula. He’s not done with Accidental Incest yet, a campy little tale that I have a small part in. What fun!

Should I stay or should I go? I’m stayin’. But either way, folks, film is rolling in RI. Big time.




Scene and Heard: The Future Is Now!

Python1For Nathaniel Sylva the future definitely is now – and apparently for the rest of us. Nat’s first feature film, called Future Justice, is premiering on May 18. It’s a an epic adventure that was commissioned by Richard Marr-Griffin (there he is again folks, I can’t seem to write an article without his name in it) after reading a screenplay Nat wrote called Behind the Door. Richard had a great interest in producing a post-apocalyptic action film and he knew that Nat was a stuntman as well.  Actor, writer, stuntman Nat sat down with Richard the director and together they created a plot. “Once that happened, it took off at a breakneck pace. I think it was four months from buckling down on the screenplay to wrapping on principal photography,” Nat said. “The real challenge was figuring out how to make a story that was epic without breaking the bank.”

The talents of a few others helped Nat achieve the look of the film. Margee Wolf (Margaret Wolf) a Rhode Islander who has made quite a name for herself in costuming and production design after working on Griffin’s Nun of That, Murder University, Normal, and the upcoming The Sins of Dracula was one. Add to that cinematography by Jill Poisson, art direction by Angela Shulman, visual effects by John Dusek, editing by Richard Griffin, and Mark Hutchinson as assistant director, and you are, as they say, off to the races.

Nat just became a union actor through the Screen Actors Guild, and he has appeared in many indie and union films produced in New England. From the short crime drama Bourbon in 2007, to most of the Griffin films mentioned above, he is no stranger to being in front of the camera. He was born and raised in Wayland, Mass., and became involved in theater in high school. Nat attended Bennington College in Vermont, an institution that has quite the history itself, with notable alumni like actor Alan Arkin, author Bret Easton Ellis, “Game of Throne”s star Peter Dinklage, dancer/choreographer Martha Graham and many more. While taking a year off from school, Nat started working in film in 2006, and hasn’t looked back since.

Future Justice is the first film he’s written to be produced, and he used all New England talent.  Nat is in the starring role, as Python Diamond, a ruthless criminal. In supporting roles we have Aaron Andrade as Uxbridge, Steven O’Broin as Gazeebo, Elyssa Baldassari as Glass, Dan Mauro as Quinn, Rich Tretheway as Wren, Anna Rizzo as Kathy, and special guest star Jose Guns Alves as Harris. Great character actor Mark Carter and the infamous Michael Thurber make appearances also. A host of others who play gang members, lab techs and victims, help round out the film quite nicely and gives it a sense of realism, which is not easy in a sci-fi flick on a limited budget.

The story opens as Python Diamond (gotta love that name) is being flown back to Earth from Saturn’s moon of Titan, a place where Earth’s worst criminals are kept waiting for their trial and execution. He’s being escorted by five military police, and upon their return to Earth, they find that a nuclear war has rendered Earth to a mostly lifeless, bleak environment. They search for clues to this disaster, or any survivors who can tell them what happened.  The journey leads them to a warehouse bunker housing scientists who hold the last hope for the foreseeable future. However, things get worse, and fast. Their spacecraft landing has drawn the attention of one of the gangs that roam this desolate place in search of food and resources, which leads them straight to the hidden and well-stocked shelter. The gang wants in of course, so they fight for it resulting in bloody warfare that takes even more lives on both sides.

I’m not gonna tell you the end of this story, but you can find out what happens on May 18 when the future is revealed. The film will premiere at Cinema World Lincoln Mall at 7pm and 9pm. It’s not a film for kids, folks, so be present with your child under 17, and for those under 12, the film makers prefer no admission.

For a peek at what’s coming, take a look at the trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5_4VXn8cuc
Advance tickets for the screening:
http://www.scorpiofilmreleasing.squarespace.com/events/
Follow the film here, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3312230/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1
Nat Sylva on IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2575439/?ref_=tt_cl_t1
The end is near … are you ready? Doesn’t matter … film is still rolling, people.




Scene and Heard: Local Legend Skip Shea

skipshea1Skip Shea is a well-known name in New England, and he’s been making that name for himself in the horror film genre and others. He has a body of work that showcases his status, which is something of a local legend.

One afternoon, not too long ago, I had the pleasure of having coffee with this gentleman, and I learned that his integrity and passion for his art is intense and highly personal. Skip was gracious enough to share some of his knowledge and chat with me about a project that is near and dear to my heart, and I’ve been watching his career ever since. I am particularly impressed with the way he turned some tragic moments in his own life, and those of other people, into amazing pieces of cinematic drama.

Shea took us on a very wild ride in November 2013 with his work on a film that has gone all the way to Rome. That film was Ave Maria, and it is not an easy one to watch, folks. Based on the story of Alessandro Moreschi, the famous last castrato, he took us deep into the New England woods for a look at this Catholic ritual, which turns out to be a twisted and horrifying one. Shea was a victim of sexual abuse within the Catholic school system, so bringing his film to Rome for its Italian premier at the Interiora Film Festival, epicenter of the Catholic Church, was a bold move that showed undaunting conviction.

His boldness doesn’t surprise me, though. Skip Shea is a man of many talents; he’s a filmmaker, performer, artist, actor, poet and writer. Skip was mainly a painter and a poet, but after surviving the death of his daughter, Shawna, in 1999, and weathering the constant re-surfacing of stories about sexual abuse in the church, he decided it was time to make a change and forge his own path. He owned an art gallery in Uxbridge, Mass., that was about the abuse, and a gentleman named Marshall Cohan encouraged him to get the exhibit to New York. Shea wrote a one-man show, which Cohan funded, and by December 2005, Skip was on stage in New York at the Bowery Poetry Club. The one-man show “Catholic (Surviving Abuse and Other Dead End Roads)” chronicled his life, which has not been an easy one. Skip chose to find the humor in the years of clergy sexual abuse he experienced, his life as an alcoholic, and the death of his daughter and presented his show as mostly a comedy. The show went on to have a successful run at the Jimmy Tingle’s Off Broadway Theater and toured the East Coast. Enter a film career here, when Skip answered an ad for background actors, for the film Shuttle, which was shooting in Worcester, Mass. Casting director Anne Mulhall was a tremendous help, and he quickly became a union (SAG) actor.

Skip has  written, directed and produced 11 short films: Ave Maria, Out of the Night, The Bar, Choices, Microcinema, Mail, Video Diary: Last Entry, They Serve Breakfast Here All Day Long, Putting On Its Shoes, Children of the Asylum, and Nostalgia. Recently, I had a private viewing of two of his films, The Actor and Under the Dark Wing, both of which will premiere at the SENE festival this month in RI. The Actor is based on a life story, about love lost and  regained,  and art lost and regained, and the ultimate redemption involved. Under the Dark Wing is about the appearance of a young mysterious girl who enters the lives of two thugs and changes them forever. The Actor will screen on 4/27 at 5pm at the Cable Car Cinema in Providence, and Under the Dark Wing will screen the same day at 1pm, at the same location.

Skip Shea is also the recipient of many awards. Children of the Asylum won the Audience Award for Best Regional Short at the 2013 SENE Film and Art Festival, Out of the Night won the Best Horror/Thriller Short at the 2013 Worcester Film Festival, Microcinema won the Best Horror Short at the 2012 Jersey Gore Film Festival and the Rondo Hatton Honorable Mention Award for Best Short, and Choices also won Best New England Film at the 2012 Massachusetts Independent Film Festival. In addition to all of these awards, Ave Maria will screen in Hollywood as part of the Holly Shorts Horror Nights Film Festival on May 22 at the famous Graumann’s Chinese Theatre. Great news, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see his own handprints in the cement there one day.

If that isn’t enough, Shea also published a piece called “Songs of Mourning,” a memorial to those killed in the September 11 attacks in New York, and also a memorial to his late daughter, Shawna Shea. The song was selected by New York City jazz musician Jon Faddis to be performed at the 9/11 10th Anniversary Commemorative Concert performed at Symphony Space by the New York Chamber Music Festival.

I asked Skip about the state of local filmmaking, and what he thought about our emerging scene in New England. “A lot of people look at the major films that come in as a gauge of the community, but I tend to look more at who is actually making it happen here. Regardless of how the tax credit situation was dramatically cut in Rhode Island, there is a lot happening. Chad Verdi, Richard Griffin. Anthony Ambrosino, Nick Delminico and Christian De Rezendes, to name a few, have made a splash in the industry on their own with their own unique business formulas. These successes can’t be ignored, with the major lesson of just do it. Have a business plan, goals and a path to achieve those goals, and then just do it. Start out with shorts to learn the process. And then move on.”

So what’s next for our legend-in-residence? Currently he’s developing a feature-length film as well as working on a documentary called The Karma Doctors with Lisa Campion about healers who are helping a couple with financial difficulties, the underlying reasons for their troubles, and how these folks heal. Skip also founded the Shawna Shea Memorial Scholarship Independent Short Film Festival to benefit the Shawna Shea Memorial Scholarship .

I’m a big fan of his “put it all out there” style of filmmaking. If you catch his screenings at SENE this month, you will be, too. I definitely look forward to more of his work, and will keep you updated on his accomplishments. Film is rolling, people.

For more information on Skips film’s and others at the SENE Festival, please visit senefest.com/index.html or follow Skip at facebook.com/skip.shea?fref=ts




The RI Film Office Is Here to Help!

Trailblazer1[1]The Rhode Island Film Office. Who exactly are they? What do they do?

“They” are Steven Feinberg, executive director of the office, and Carol Conley, his loyal assistant. The first thing that strikes me after arriving at the office across from the state house, is the family atmosphere that is prevalent here. Carol Conley, who has been with the office for 10 years, confirms this when I ask her how it is to work with Steve on all the different projects that come through the office. “In one word, amazing. I have learned so much about things that I would never have known about. Steve is amazing to work for, he’s very inclusive.  I don’t work for Steve, I work with Steve. That’s really important. It’s kept me here,“ Carol says.

I can certainly see the camaraderie and feel Steve’s pride when he speaks about a highlight of his job – seeing Carol explaining film tax credits to a very financially savvy person while Steve looked on. “It was like Einstein himself asked her a question,” Steve says, “and she was able to educate this man. I take a lot of pride in that.”

Helping people is a big part of their job at the RI Film Office.  Their days are never typical. One day they may be out scouting a location with a production manager, another they may be explaining tax credits to a producer from out of town, and on another, they could be visiting the set of a Hollywood movie to welcome the cast and crew.

One thing surprises me when I ask Steve and Carol about their work: They are available by phone or e-mail to anyone in the state who has a production or who is writing a script. I thought they only dealt with Hollywood flicks. Not so!  While they are unable to finance a film, they can guide filmmakers in finding locations, advice and most importantly, knowledge.

Which brings me to another thing about Mr. Feinberg that I did not know. He’s been making movies since he was 8 years old. Hailing from Cranston, RI, he always dreamed about going to California and getting into the movie business. What’s even more incredible is that he had a vision for himself – one that included having his feet planted in Rhode Island and his hands in the film industry in Hollywood so he could represent RI. He attended UCLA, and then USC Film School, and even before graduating, he was hired to write scripts for 20th Century Fox, primarily because he wrote a script that garnered some recognition from studio heads, called Runaround Sue. At the time, 20th Century Fox was run by Scott Rudin, the youngest president of the studio and now a multiple Academy Award winning producer. Feinberg pitched him an idea, Rudin liked it and hired him. That was a project called UFO Scouts and after that he wrote a spec script called Fortress that got picked up by 20th Century Fox. They ended up making it for Village Roadshow, in Australia, and then the sequel for Columbia Tri-Star in Luxembourg.

After selling scripts around Hollywood, Feinberg took a trip back to the Ocean State during the holidays, and was helping a friend get through a difficult time. While here, he asked a city worker about the Providence Film Commission, and was told it didn’t exist anymore. This weighed on his mind, because he felt that Rhode Island had so much to offer in the way of film locations and local talent. Incredibly, Steve had a chance meeting with the mayor’s office of art, culture and tourism, which was run by Lynne McCormack and Cliff Wood. They asked if he would be willing to share his thoughts on what he would do to bring productions to the state. Right off the bat, he gave them a list of five things. Amazingly, they told him there was an opening at the RI Film and TV office and they wondered if he was interested in applying. Although Steve loved his life in LA, he always lingered when visiting his beloved home state. Recognizing this fortuitous situation as a sign, he applied for the job and arranged for letters of recommendation from some very influential people from Hollywood. He got that job 10 years ago.

In those early days, the RI Film Office was manned by one person, and that was Steve. No budget, no website, no tax incentives. Carol arrived later, as Steve’s right hand, and they now have Lew Place as well, who is a part-time locations and event photographer as well as webmaster. Things have changed considerably for the film office, and surely for the smallest state in the union. Most of our universities now have film programs created in the last decade, but even more importantly, it’s now possible to have a film career and still live in Rhode Island! As a film writer and an actor, I see the progress our little state has made, and it’s impressive. We’ve sold films, produced Hollywood films here, and brought up a crop of mighty impressive talent in front of and behind the camera.

Steve recalls a time when he experienced a wonderful feeling of satisfaction while driving to the premier of a local film made with no money.  He turned to look down the street and saw a TV series filming outside called “Brotherhood.” He immediately felt his dream realized – that he could bring a Hollywood production to town and help them do their best job in this state, while helping to nurture the dreams and ideals of a young filmmaker premiering his first no-budget film. That feeling has stayed with him, and it’s the life blood of the office.

Their ideals have lived on. The office has helped many filmmakers by reading scripts and making notes, discussing potential edits and giving them the knowledge and confidence to start the process. Carol tells me of a young filmmaker who, now living in LA, called the office recently to thank them.  “He told us he got the confidence he needed to make his film, the right way, and to be a responsible filmmaker,” she says. ”He’s now coming back to make a feature here, with a bit more substantial budget on hand.  It’s so gratifying to see someone grow like that.”

Steve and Carol speak to many directors, producers, and film folks from all over the world and various film festivals. Many call to say that they were in touch with a production that was done here and they were told that this was a great place to film. Word of mouth is working for Little Rhody, as we continue to draw major productions and smaller indie films to our state.

Steve is adamant about helping the young unknown filmmaker as well as the big Hollywood producer. Everyone gets the same treatment. Carol adds “People – local filmmakers – don’t know just how accessible Steve is.”  Exactly, and hopefully this article will educate people on the resources they have. Steve knows that many of these filmmakers have become notable ones, like Laura Colella, who is now working with Paul Thomas Andersen, Gary Glassman, who has won Emmy’s, Peabodys, and Cable Ace awards for his documentaries and Tom DeNucci, who has just secured a ten-picture deal with Universal and will begin production on the first of those films  at the end of April.

One more thing you should know about Steve. He’s a horseman. After watching one too many Kevin Costner and John Wayne flicks he went riding, and then returned soon after because he enjoyed it so much. One day, while walking by one of the stables, one of the horses nudged him. There was no turning back on that day either. He took the horse home, named him Cruiz, and they’ve been close buddies ever since.

That doesn’t surprise me, though. He’s a nurturing kind of guy. If you need help with a film production or guidance on all aspects of responsible filmmaking, call the RI Film Office at 401-222-3456, or visit their website at www.film.ri.gov , and contact them by e-mail.  They’ll be happy to help you.

Remember, film is rolling, people. And if Steve has anything to do with it, it will certainly continue in the Ocean State.

 




Scene and Heard: Jordan Pacheco’s Provoked

midtown

Don’t lose faith in the Paranormal!

Hey folks! In my last column I wrote about Villanelle, one of the three  films chosen to premier on Full Moon Streaming’s newest extension, called Wizard Studios. It sort of Provoked me to write my new column rather soon, because a new film has been picked up from RI, and marks another coup for the film making community here.  This film will also will be on the roster at Full Moon Streaming, and the film is called, you guessed it, Provoked.

Provoked is the brain child of writer/director Jordan Pacheco (no relation). The story follows a group of amateur paranormal investigators who, despite working for months on a case, have never found any proof of anything like this happening. During the group’s most recent jaunt they come up empty, causing Matt, one of the investigators, to lose faith in the whole existence of the paranormal. Matt attempts to provoke the spirits through some very risky behavior, which at first seems to produce nothing. However, while on his way home, the investigating equipment starts to register at its highest level. Matt has indeed been answered, and things go from bad to worse for him and his girlfriend as they attempt to defend his home against these ghastly intruders.

It’s interesting to note here that Pacheco is an actual paranormal investigator, and after the first day of filming, cast member Jami Tennille, along with director Pacheco, producer David Langill, and crew member AJ went back the following day and performed an actual paranormal investigation at the Lizzie Borden House. You know the place, the one where it is alleged that dear Lizzie took an axe and gave her parents a number of whacks … yes, that one. It just happened to serve as a main location for the film. Great idea for a flick with bad energy running through it, wouldn’t you say?

In addition, Pacheco wrote the film with horror icon Tony Moran (he plays Doug) in mind, and Tony signed onto the project in 2012. Many RI and MA actors  also appear in Provoked – Jeanne Lohnes, our own NE Kids Actors Group  kid (the group I founded with Natasha Colonero) Charlie Tacker, Camille Farnan, Jamie Tennille,  Kati Salowsky and more. See the full cast and crew at the IMDb page here: imdb.com/title/tt2360586/?ref_=ttpl_pl_tt

This was no easy road for Pacheco, though. He spent 10 years doing other things that had nothing to do with film, and finally refused to settle for a life that did not suit or excite him. When he first started out, he looked for a way to break into film, and did so by learning some basic FX /makeup effects. Not long after, Jordan met Eric Rodrigues, who just happens to be a distant cousin of Lizzie Borden. Eric learned his craft from the Tom Savini Special Make-Up Effects Program. The two then worked for RI directors Richard Marr-Griffin and Rick LaPrade (the writer and director of Villanelle. Pacheco built a network of talented film professionals while working on seven features, and felt it was time to create his own film.

Remember, he’s a paranormal investigator too, so he had this fear that someday a not-so-friendly entity might decide to follow him home, a perfect inspiration for his first film. Pacheco then teamed up with Langill and Griffin as cinematographer/editor, and Provoked was born. His dream was now a reality. Pacheco and Langill have teamed up again for Dead Bounty, a zombie flick, and are in pre-production on their third feature.

Provoked will premier online at Full Moon Streaming on March 7 and you can see it here: fullmoonstreaming.com/wizard-movies/provoked .  I am pretty confident that Provoked will get the full distro deal and be available on all platforms, but you can certainly help by going to that aforementioned URL for Full Moon, and sign up for 3 months. In the meantime, you can follow Jordan Pacheco on Twitter @HauntedDirector  or you can visit the website for the film here: provokedfilm.com/

Oh, and it might be wise to heed Pacheco’s words when it comes to the dead — DON’T anger them.