Box Man turns movie-maker


Journal-Bulletin Arts Writer

Nick Pasyanos is a prime example of why filmmakers love shooting in Rhode Island.

Forty-six-year-old Pasyanos, who sells corrugated boxes for a living and who has been a part-time portrait photographer for a quarter-century, had never made a movie before when he began filming Boxed Man from his own script last July 11. The crisis comedy is about the adventures of a box salesman.

The jovial Pasyanos, of Middletown, had learned all his moviemaking skills from the 42 books heíd bought and digested over the course of a year. "Once I sensed a redundancy in what I was reading, I said, ĎIím ready.í"

Confident to the max, Pasyanos went out and purchased lights, a 16mm camera and sound equipment. Then he set about getting his friends to work for free on weekends, doing double and triple and quadruple duties both behind and in the front of his cameras. It was a homegrown effort.

But now that homegrown effort has an Oscar winner Ė Tom Ohanian Ė at the editing controls.

Cranston native Ohanian won his Oscar in 1995 for creating software for the Avid computer editing system, which has revolutionized the film industry. He was called to London last spring as a troubleshooter on the technically difficult editing aspects of the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies as well as on George Lucasís new Star Wars movie, not due in theaters until 1999.

The $80-million Tomorrow Never Dies.

The $100-million Star Wars.

Boxed Manís budget is so small that Pasyanos doesnít want to publicize how much he didnít spend so as not to scare away potential distributors. "Letís just say itís a tiny fraction of Tomorrow Never Dies," he says with s chuckle.

Only in Rhode Island.

Pasyanos, whose goofy sense of humor is evident in the Boxed Man clips that are showing on an Avid monitor, reports that after heíd absorbed all that he felt he could from his filmmaking books, he decided to "dive in at the deep end of the pool."

His daring paid off. Heís sitting, one recent Saturday morning, in a spare bedroom at Ohanianís house in the Eden Park neighborhood, poring over scenes that are pulled up by the computer on the monitor, looking for the best way to tell the story.

Adventures of a Salesman

Boxed Man follows the adventures of a novice box salesman Ė his run-ins with his pompously arrogant boss, his attempt at romance with the bossís pretty secretary, his tribulations with the oddball characters he works with and whom he meets in the field. These include the cheerful man who wants Richard, played by local comedian Ace Aceto, to supply him with porno magazines and the co-worker who spends a great deal of time talking about the importance of clean bowels.

Pasyanos shot on 40 locations, most borrowed from friends and clients, like the offices of Crystal Thermoplastic in Cumberland and the Jane Pickens Theater in Newport. He had 43 actors and more than 60 extras, all working for zip. He shot for 31 days, not counting a few re-shoots, wrapping on Dec 28.

"I think itís great," enthuses Ohanian, whose editing output over 18 years includes the Rhode Island Code of Ethics and the California-made Beyond Paradise, which is about to be screened at the Berlin Film Festival in Germany. "There are people who would remark on the sheer audacity of having the conviction to write this and see it through on a shoestring. There arenít even professionals who can pull it off.

"It just goes to show that if you want to do this, thereís no reason you canít."

ĎTitanicí equipment

Signing Ohanian, whom Pasyanos discovered in a Journal-Bulletin article, proved to be as easy as sending him a script. Ohanian read it on the way back from Los Angeles last spring, burst out laughing and brought both himself and his Avid equipment to the project. Ohanian points out that the equipment being used on Boxed Man is the same stuff that was used to edit Titanic.

Ohanian has already cut 93 minutes of what will be a 105-minute first assembly. Then theyíll go back to winnow that down, again and again. "Itís all about maximizing without bogging anything down," Ohanian says.

For Pasyanos part, heís just thrilled that itís all coming together and actually looks better on screen than heíd dared hope.

"I feel terrific about it," he says. "Hopefully, buyers will feel the same way when they see it."