EAST GREENWICH — After the cast and crew completed one of the first takes of the new film, “Self Storage,” actor Michael Berryman walked over to young local actor – and director of the project – Tom DeNucci and asked to see the playback of the finished scene.
DeNucci, who is making his directorial debut along with starring in the story, felt at that point that the test was on once a Hollywood veteran of the horror genre made the request to view the work.
Berryman saw the footage and, without much hesitation, gave the approval to the aspiring director with how the scene was translated in front of the camera. As a result, it gave DeNucci the excitement knowing that his vision is coming to life to the delight of the notable cast he’s working with.
“It was just a thrill to know that Michael was happy with the work that he was putting in and happy with the choices that we made and how we played the various scenes out,” DeNucci said. That gave me confidence in trying different things. Michael was willing to kind of be free.”
Even though there have been a few hiccups with weather and other minor issues that has slowed the production schedule for the crew of Verdi Productions, there has been a lot of high praise coming from some of Hollywood’s elite on the set of “Self Storage” during the first couple weeks of filming. Berryman, who starred in films such as ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,’ ‘The Hills Have Eyes,’ and ‘The Devil’s Rejects’ in a career that is almost four decades long, applauded the production staff on set and just enjoys the thrill of camaraderie and performing once the director yells, ‘action!’
“It’s pretty exciting to be on a set,” said Berryman, who is playing the role of Trevor, the brother-in-arms for a former black operative named Walter – portrayed by Eric Roberts. “It gets in your blood. The schedule is different. You’re working a days, you’re working nights. You’re working long hours. It’s a great effort. Everyone comes together. It’s like a family. I love location filming.”
Berryman is also overjoyed in looking forward to working with Roberts, who has an Oscar nomination on his resume, for the first time with this film – which is slated to hit the theaters in March 2013.
Unlike a lot of other films that would take over a year depending on budgets from major studios, the production of ‘Self Storage’ is on a very tight schedule and the actors are only in town for a certain amount of time for filming.
Jonathan Silverman, who has worked with Verdi Productions in the past with the film ‘Inkubus,’ was in East Greenwich for a few days a couple weeks ago working on scenes on the new project. Roberts will be in town during this week for an undetermined amount of time doing takes needed for the film with Berryman.
Therefore, Chad Verdi – the producer of the film – knows that making a plethora of mistakes during filming is not an option and the young core of local actors, who still have more than a decade of experience acting, understand that notion fully. Plus, Verdi said that it was because of the tight schedule that the film needed the veterans of film, like Roberts, Silverman and Berryman, to make it work.
“Some of the local actors we’ve been prepping for these type shoots,” Verdi said. “But on these schedules, you have to hit it out of the park on the first take and there’s no room for error. That’s why I bring in the veteran actors to work with the local ones and it makes it go a lot easier.”
“I’ve been very fortunate throughout my career,” said Billy Vigeant, a native of Johnston who is playing Silverman’s underboss, Mumbo, in ‘Self Storage.’ “When you work with seasoned profession actors that are successful, it helps you elevate your game to another level.”
“I think we work well under pressure,” added Berryman. “I find it that the work ethic on film on a location, you don’t know a lot of the people. We’re all kind of put together and it’s sort of this wonderful menu and we become a stew pot.”
The crew is slightly behind schedule, much ado to some weather-related problems in the middle of the week last week. With the torrential storms that hit the area, as well as some minor rain last Friday, the crew experienced some power outages that halted filming for an extended period of time.
DeNucci also recalled one evening during production where a security alarm at a nearby business went off for almost 45 minutes and had to wait until it was quiet on the set before filming could resume.
“There was nothing that we could do about it,” DeNucci said. “It was just blaring away. It was about two blocks away and right there. It was like, ‘perfect.’”
But even with the tight schedule, the cast and crew believes that the time constrictions bring out the best in terms of the film’s quality, as well as having strong people in place.
Verdi said that he came off of a $5 million movie with some of Hollywood’s elite and the footage that DeNucci has created up to this point with ‘Self Storage’ looks much better than the project Verdi was recently on.
He added that the chemistry between the actors and directors are pivotal in having the quality of the project be at its best. Even if there are some conflicts with the production, the cast and crew have confidence in DeNucci because the star/director has spent the last several years putting the story together for ‘Self Storage,’ therefore he knows how scenes are supposed to play out.
“If you have the right people, you can get a lot done with a lot less,” Verdi said. “If you don’t have the right people, I don’t care how many people you have, you’re in trouble. I just thing he [DeNucci] knows it and he wants to get it done and it flows great and the footage is outstanding.”
“If something happens, you have to make an adjustment,” added Berryman. “Tom is excellent as far as knowing what choices he has and what angles. If it’s good enough, I would trust his decisions on the first day on the set.”
“He’s local, he’s talented and he’s smart,” said Roberts of DeNucci. “You have to have those three things, for me, they’re everything. Movies are fascism. He’s the dictator and he has to be. It’s only going to work if it works that way. He’s a dictator but he’s smart about it.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of features detailing a local production company during the process of making a film. In the next installment, how fight scenes are developed and trying to balance that line of making them real for the audience, while keeping safety in mind.