no business like show business
quieter, not necessarily gentler version of Hollywood came to
Rochester for 31 days in May and June via a handful of RIT alumni
who brought a Pacific style of glitz and glitter to Western
The cast and crew of
After Image, a movie written by Robert Manganelli '83, set up
camp in the area, using city locations as a film backdrop. Chris
Nakis '83 co-produced the film; Kurt Brabbée '75 was film cinematographer.
Manganelli and Brabbée both live in the Los Angeles area; Nakis
lives in Rochester.
Chris Nakis, Robert Manganelli, and Kurt Brabbée (left to
right) brought a bit of Hollywood to Rochester, complete
with special effects and movie stars.
The film stars Louise
Fletcher, Oscar-winning Nurse Ratchett in One Flew Over the
Cuckoo's Nest, and rocker John Mellencamp in a non-singing role.
(Mellencamp and his family lived in Pittsford during filming;
savvy residents were hankering for Mellencamp sightings at the
local plaza.) Terrylene, a deaf actress with credits in such
films as Natural Born Killers and City ofAngels, also stars
in the film. She is married to Manganelli. Actor Michael Zelnicker,
whose credits include Clint Eastwood's Bird, also has a part
in the film.
Image is a psychological thriller about a clairvoyant deaf woman
(Terrylene) who enables a crime scene photographer (Mellencamp)
to confront a serial killer (Zelniker). The photographer has
returned to Rochester and temporarily stays with his aunt (Fletcher).
Manganelli admits to choosing Rochester for its cloud cover,
to give scenes a certain ominous quality. A local resident,
used as an extra in the film, reports that, in true modern film
fashion, the story is "a mite grisly."
a still photographer, scratched his filmmaking itch in graduate
school at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
He was invited to Robert Redford's Sundance Institute in 1992,
based on an early draft of After Image, then called Seeing in
the Dark. Only a half-dozen or so directors are invited to the
institute each year.
The institute provides
a cabin on the scenic Redford ranch for each director (with
a hot tub in each, Manganelli reports). Actors and crewmembers
are also provided and each director uses the resources to shoot
three or four scenes of his or her film. "It was a great and
intense experience," Manganelli says. At the end of a week,
"You're on the hot seat," he says. "Several advisors, each with
an Oscar in his or her respective discipline, critique your
work." Redford himself, along with various other luminaries,
tear the work apart, in order to help improve the product. After
rewrites, revisions and more rewrites, the group pronounced
After Image "good to go," Manganelli says. (Rochester Democrat
and Chronicle film critic Jack Garner considers After Image
to have mainstream-movie potential.)
Not all good scripts,
though, no matter who has critiqued them, become movies, and
Manganelli credits Nakis and co-producer John Cocca as instrumental
in raising the $1.4 million needed for the project. Nakis pounded
the pavement to secure financing, Manganelli says, becoming
a fixture on city streets and at hockey games, handing out fliers
and soliciting investors. "Chris is the true unsung hero of
this film," Manganelli says. "His commitment is unbelievable.
This movie wouldn't be without him." According to Jerry Stoeffhaas,
former director of the Rochester/Finger Lakes Film and Video
office, After Image is the largest independent film to be done
primarily in Rochester.
and Cocca's company, Whitetail Images Inc., is headquartered
at the back of the Nakis family's auto shop on Brighton-Henrietta
Town Line Road. "Chris fixes transmissions on one side and raises
money on the other," laughs Manganelli. The comment is not far
from the truth: Katie Pappas, a local graduate student who also
managed the After Image production office in the Sheraton Four
Points Hotel, says she met Nakis when he was working on her
car; he then got her hooked on the film project.
How difficult is
it to attract big-name actors to the Great White North? "Not
hard at all," Manganelli says. "Everyone was on board with the
project. Louise truly enjoyed Rochester. John likes to work
and keep busy; he has a certain passion for acting and performing.
Filmmaking lacks a certain immediate gratification, though,
which he found frustrating. He prefers to see results right
-- Fletcher, Mellencamp, et al. -- had the opportunity to work
in some unique Rochester spots. After Image was filmed at the
Public Market and Monroe Community Hospital, as well as at a
Victorian-style Rowley Street home and on a rural egg farm.
St. Michael's Church on Clinton Avenue offered some rococo religious
scenery and the High Falls area put the Genesee River into the
spotlight. Some scenes also were shot earlier in the drained
RIT students worked
as production assistants alongside the cast and crew, for the
unique opportunity to work on film without traveling to New
York City or Los Angeles. RIT student Dave Adam showed up at
the Sheraton Production office, in response to a flier he saw
on campus. He was willing to do anything, he said on arrival.
"I just want the experience of working on a real film," he said.
"I'm planning on going to Hollywood after I graduate."
in late June. Manganelli and his entourage then left for Los
Angeles for post production work. At this stage, a film is edited,
sound and visual effects are added or tweaked, muffled dialogue
is re-recorded, and the music score is added. The next step
for After Image? Manganelli and the film's producers will try
to get After Image accepted for a screening at the next Sundance
Film Festival, in January 2001. (Since the film was first developed
as a script at a Sundance workshop, Manganelli has high hopes
that it will be screened.) Since the Sundance Film Festival
is considered a major launching pad for independent films, After
Image could get a national distributor at that time. It could
then appear in local theaters as early as next spring.
Seems to be a risky
business, but one that Manganelli, Nakis, Brabbée and crew are
willing, no, happy, to take on again. Nakis and Cocca are hoping
to produce more films in Rochester, a location they think could
become serious competition in the film market. Manganelli has
another script finished and is working on more.
What's next? "We'll
see," says Bob Manganelli.