On The Beach
Commentary By Beverly Baxter
Lights, Camera, Action! Meet The Breslins!
Catching up with the Breslins is like trying to catch your breath! Within the past year, they've organized an elaborate wedding, attended, and knowing Liz, organized, many lovely showers, and have had a beautiful baby boy whom they've named Quinn Michael William Breslin. All this in addition to mounting her photography shows, the Liz Smith Shopping Extravaganza, which Liz hosts each November, giving other artists a venue to display their work; working full-time as a guidance counselor and tending to her two highly successful businesses, New York Beach Girl and Simply Creative by Liz. She is about to launch two new ventures and has already met an impressive degree of success. Somehow, I'm not surprised.
We were already seated at our table at The Steak House when Kevin arrived. He swooped through the restaurant, consuming all the energy in his wake. He is a man on a most important mission, even if that important mission is you. He's like the engine of a race car that keeps revving, even though it's parked.
And then, in walks Liz. She has Baby Quinn in the stroller; and just as Kevin consumes all the energy in the room, Liz ignites it. Heads turn and all eyes are on her as she makes her way to our table. It takes awhile. Everybody stops her. She is beautiful and radiates happiness. And just when you thought there was only so much energy, it builds and there's still more to come. We quickly catch up on what's been going on in their high-octane lives. Well, I'm still trying to catch up!
Kevin, who is a filmmaker and director of commercials, was recently honored by Mayor Bloomberg at a cocktail reception at Grand Central Station's Vanderbilt Hall for the "Made In New York" campaign. Kevin received the 2007 award for his contributions to filmmaking in New York, along with Tina Fey of Saturday Night Live and the hit show, "30 Rock." "Made In New York," a visual campaign, features interviews with notable artists Will Smith, Ed Burns, Rachael Ray, Danny DeVito and Debra Messing, to name a few. In 30-second spots, they discuss why they love making films in New York. When Kevin was first notified, on the Mayor's official stationery, that he would be receiving the award, he was so stunned by the official letter that he "thought he was receiving a subpoena!".
New York Daily News reporter Jason Sheftl recently featured Kevin in a piece, "The Apple of his Eye". In it, he describes Kevin's keen eye for using the Big Apple and the outer boroughs in his work. "New York lends itself to many different geographies and venues. Forest Hills Gardens could be depicted as England, Bayside could be Rhode Island, parts of Staten Island could be filmed as the Middle East, and Lower Ridgewood could lend itself to an early 1900s period piece. As a filmmaker, the location possibilities are vast because you can mock anywhere to be any place. I've basically stuck a camera in every part of the city." While the Sheftl piece was very impressive, Liz, who was "born on the beach", and as a photographer, has been shooting Rockaway all of her life, quips, "Great article, Kevin, but I thought I was the apple of your eye!"
The couple have together turned their creative eyes on Rockaway. Kevin, who has featured Rockaway and its eclectic locales in starring roles in much of his work, marvels that Rockaway is still untapped and under the radar for filmmaking. He describes Rockaway, and its many communities, as being truly versatile for filmmaking. "It's edgy, mysterious, quaint...it could be anything you need it to be. Our dunes could be The Hamptons or the Outer-Banks. It could be New England or the Bronx." He has featured Fort Tilden in several of his commercials, including those for Levis and BMW, and has shot commercials for Tyson Chicken in Belle Harbor kitchens. He has also made it snow on Beach 130 Street in October for a March Madness Basketball spot.
For her part of this creative duo, Liz, because of her artistic eye and sense of what is visually right, as well as her desire to bring more filmmaking to Rockaway, has launched Liz Smith Locations. "Of course this started because of my husband who has been doing this for a long time; but it's a natural fit for me as well. While he has been shooting scenes all over New York, I kept thinking, 'Why not more of Rockaway?' There are homes that are so architecturally beautiful and still unique; and there is such an opportunity to bring big money into the community." In addition to homeowners receiving anywhere from $1500 to $3500 per day for the use of their home, the community realizes money in a myriad of ways. While a Belle Harbor kitchen may be used for Tyson Foods, another home is needed to prepare and cook the food. Pizzas are ordered for the crew, and paint, hardware and other materials are needed to "set dress" the house. As a location agent, Liz submitted 17 photographs featuring local kitchens for Tyson. Four of them met the specifications and were chosen. She is thrilled to see many of her friends, and there are many, make some extra money. If you are interested in submitting your home to be used as a location, you can e-mail your digital photos to Liz firstname.lastname@example.org , or you may e-mail her at Newyorkbeach girl@aol. com to arrange an appointment for Liz to come and photograph your home.
And just when you thought there weren't enough hours in the day to be Liz Smith Breslin, this Rockaway beach girl is about to open her own store, The Blue Bungalow, with two other partners. The store will be located on Rockaway Beach Boulevardd and Beach 113 Street, and will carry home furnishings, arts, antiques, framing, hand-painted furniture and other one-of-a-kind items. The boutique will bring something chic and beachy to the area. You will also find Liz's photographs, hand-painted glassware, cards; and of course, Liz's iconic personalized beach writings. She is not unnerved that others have sought to emulate her style. She is flattered, as it is confirmation to her that her work is good and she's doing something right. Each photograph is unique to its own wave. They are not computerized. In their simplicity, the photographs are clean and they capture the beauty of the community. Many of her subjects befriend Liz as she makes them feel at ease and it shows in the work she produces.
For all that she takes on, it is her role as mommy that is most satisfying. Liz has taken a childcare leave so that she can work closer to home where she can spend more time with her son, Quinn. She is also a stepmom to Kevin's three wonderful kids; Camille, Caleb and Fiona, whom she adores. How does she do it and do it all so well? Well, that's the wonder of Liz. She is an amazingly gifted human being. And when it's a wrap and the Breslins have finished for the day, they can be found on the surfers' 91 Street beach. He is riding the waves with his son Caleb. She is on the beach where she beckons the waves for her beach writings. This is where it all began...with her beloved brother B.J. in the Sand...For the Breslins, the news, like a wave, keeps breaking. Stay tuned.