2009-07-24 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio Rockaway Artists Alliance

Lights, Camera, Action
Commentary By Susan Hartenstein

"Filming Dog Day Afternoon," painting by Geoff Rawling for RAA Film Festival. "Filming Dog Day Afternoon," painting by Geoff Rawling for RAA Film Festival. Film and video have long been part of RAA events. But Saturday, August 1 at 6 p.m. in sTudio 7, short films will be the focus of the first Rockaway Artists Alliance Film Festival. The works of several filmmakers, shown on DVD, were chosen for the festival. I spoke to two of the moviemakers for this week's column.

Collaboration is a theme that ran through both interviews. Robert Sarnoff has reached a stage of life at which self-examination and reflection about the world around him are natural consequences. He is on the verge of completing the most personal of his films - "The Romeows" - exploring the relationships among a group of friends who have been together for 50 years. It is a true story; it is Sarnoff's story and that of his friends - several "Retired Older Men Eating Out Wednesdays." It is about their collaboration of friendship and mutual support; and about their reflections on why they have remained so close 50 years after graduating from Brooklyn College together, while other such unions did not endure. Funny, poignant, life-affirming, the movie reveals a group of intelligent, active, vibrant men with senses of humor, senses of history and of the contemporary; attempting to leave the world better than it is. That is why young people who have seen the 10 minute abbreviated version of "The Romeows" have reacted so positively to it.

As one viewer commented, these are people "you'd want to talk to." Sarnoff states that in "a transitive era" of "virtual friendships" (Facebook, etc.), the young viewers found it amazing that these people have stayed friends for so long. There is a reassuring sense of permanence and loyalty here.

Sarnoff has filmed the men in the various venues at which, like clockwork, they get together on Wednesdays - for example Nathan's, Cyclones games, a college reunion, a Brooklyn rooftop overlooking the Statue of Liberty. Perhaps another factor in what Sarnoff calls "the universal appeal" of these guys - one of them says, "We are all immigrant sons of Flatbush."

Speaking of collaboration: Kevin Raman was a film student of Sarnoff's in high school, who went on to a successful career editing and making promos for the likes of Letterman and "Amazing Race." When they met again a few years ago and the teacher asked the former student to collaborate on "The Romeows," Raman said, "It would be an honor." But as Sarnoff states, "Be a teacher and by your student be taught." The ten-minute version being shown August 1, which was screened at a tribute to Sarnoff at the 2009 Queens International Film Festival, will also be seen in December at the Brooklyn Historical Society. A feature-length rough cut is scheduled for showing at Brooklyn College in September.

Adam Taylor considers himself primarily a filmmaker, though he is also a writer, writing for National Lampoon's website and creating the screenplays for his projects. He also does freelance film work - these credits include a commercial for American Eagle.

A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh's film program, Taylor began his career by making feature-length movies. But more recently he has gravitated to short films, of varying lengths. Though he has experimented with many different genres (we get a sampling at the festival), he prefers making comedies. As a fan of director John Hughes ("Breakfast Club"), "I like slice-of-life comedies; simple stories that are character driven." Tom Burke, organizer of the August event, calls Taylor's work "brilliant, entertaining and runs from the satirical to slapstick and even includes a Chaplinesque silent short."

Taylor says he was "always into the creative arts." But he found that film "was a way to incorporate all of that." "It is hard work, but very rewarding." He enjoys the collaboration that films entail - working with actors, sound people, lighting people, etc. Painting is just you and the canvas, he comments. "In the writing process you are usually by yourself; on your own. But it's nice to [get out there] to then work with others." You get so much from those with whom you collaborate, he says.

Next week: more on film.

RAA CONTACT INFO: Phone: 718-474-0861; Fax: 718-474-4373; email: rockart116@aol.com; website: www.rockawayartistsalli ance.org
Fort Tilden Highlights
FILM FESTIVAL: Sat., Aug. 1, 7 p.m. start, sTudio 7, RoCAt Tilden. Screenings of several
short films See column for more info.
ROBIN AND WILLIAM POGREBITSKIY EXHIBIT: Wood sculpture and political drawings.
Opens Sun., Aug. 16, sTudio 7.
park by night.
PAINTING CLASSES FOR ADULTS: Tuesday nights, 7-9 p.m.; Thursday mornings, 10
a.m. - 12 noon. sTudio 7, RoCA @ Fort Tilden. $15 per class, supplies included.
THURS. NIGHT OPEN MIC: Performing artists of all disciplines invited. Sign-up at 7:45
p.m. for 8 p.m. start time.
NEXT EXHIBITIONS COMMITTEE MEETING: Sat., Aug. 8 at 1 p.m. in sTudio 7.
NEW ARTSPLASH SUBMISSION DEADLINE: August 17, 2009. Visit RAA website for
full prospectus and entry form.

kidsmART corner

Thank you kidsmART parents for continuing to donate cups and paper towels.

If your child is exhibiting flu-like symptoms please contact Marina at marinarockart116@aol.com or Christine at chrisrockart116@aol .com or call 718-474-0861.

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