A Director is Born

Local Filmmaker gets his big-screen debut next week when "Boxed Man" premiers at the Rhode Island Film Festival.

By Bill Goetzinger

Getting started in any profession can be a challenge, but show business is perhaps the toughest of all nuts to crack. Just ask Nick Pasyanos of Middletown.

"I always wanted to get into the film industry, but it's hard to get noticed," Pasyanos said. To that end, Pasyanos single-handedly took charge of virtually every off-screen role in the making of his first feature film, Boxed Man, which premiers August 16 at the Rhode Island Film Festival in Providence.

"I was director and writer and producer - and director of photography!" said Pasyanos, who added that photography was the only one of those areas in which he had any experience (he once owned a photography business).

As Pasyanos explains it, Boxed Man is a comedy about a man in his late twenties who goes to work for "a pretty rotten guy" selling boxes. The man meets all sorts of zany characters, and falls in love.

Citing the old adage of "write what you know," Pasyanos said he drew on his own experiences as a corrugated box salesman. The film stars Richard "Ace" Aceto, Terri Leander and Elliot Cohan. Pasyanos cast all local actors and shot the film last year in Rhode Island, Fall River and New Bedford.

To prepare himself, the self described "film-geek" read 42 books on film and film-making, and watched a lot of movies from his extensive laser disc collection. Pasyanos also said he's seen many documentaries about the making of various movies.

"A lot of stuff stuck in my mind," he said. "I was able to use that knowledge."

Despite his inexperience, Pasyanos said he walked into the project with full confidence, and never once looked back. He drew his inspiration from other independent film-makers like Robert Rodriguez and Edward Burns, both of whom, like Pasyanos, wrote, directed and produced films (respectively, Ell Mariachi and The Brothers McMullen) with budgets that would barely pay the catering fee for a big Hollywood production.

Pasyanos shot Boxed Man for under $50,000. His actors were paid on a contingency basis, and the editing was done by Tom O'Hanian. Pasyanos originally called O'Hanian for advice. After reading the script, the award-winning film editor volunteered his services.

Pasyanos was grateful to O'Hanian, among others. He acknowledged the owners of establishments like The Inn at Castle Hill and the Jane Pickens Theatre, who gave him permission to shoot in their places of business.

"I owe a lot of thanks to a lot of different people," Pasyanos said.

"Boxed Man was filmed on weekends, often "guerrilla style" during the early hours of the morning. A Woody Allen fan, Pasyanos said he used Allen's technique of shooting without cuts, which helped save footage.

Asked what it's like to make a movie, Pasyanos said, "It's great. Putting it together is a tremendous feeling: But in creating Boxed Man, Pasyanos said he got so wrapped up in details he never really had time to savor the moment.

Pasyanos, who has seen Boxed Man more times than he's seen The Wizard of Oz, said the finished product looks great. He's hoping to enter it in multiple film festivals, where it might be seen by agents and critics. Robert Rodriquez's agent is currently looking at the script; Pasyanos also pitched Boxed Man to Miramax Films, the nation's largest distributor of independent movies.

In the meantime, he's working on a new script, which he described as a romantic comedy. For the next project, Pasyanos wants to work with a bigger budget. And he definitely wants to make another film.

"There's a saying," he said. "If you find that one thing you really love to do, you'll never work again, and I feel that way about making movies."