Youll laugh, youll cry
Nick Pasyanos gives a thumbs up to filmmaking, a thumbs down for finding a distributor
MIDDLETOWN Fortunately, being a salesman, Nick Pasyanos is used to this.
The first-time filmmaker wrote, produced and directed his own movie, Boxedman, last year a 110-minute dream come true.
Driven by his lifelong love of motion pictures, he purchased equipment, corralled volunteers and established locations, shepherding his movie through every phase of production, from script to editing.
He satisfied his curiosity, realized an ambition and maxed out his credit cards.
Now he needs a distributor.
The hungrier will somehow succeed, Pasyanos said with a relaxed and confident determination. It isn't over until you say its over. Im in it for the long run.
One of the biggest keys to the puzzle of getting things sold is perseverance.
Like a farmer with a truck load of fresh vegetables, Nick Pasyanos has a product in hand. He needs to bring his goods to market.
He needs a distribution company to accept Boxedman, cut the negative, blow it up to the standard 35mm size, print copies and get them shown in theaters. Thats a tall order. The cost of cutting the negative and assembling the cuts to make a final edited master is between $50,000 and $60,000.
Thats money that Pasyanos doesnt believe he should be spending right now.
Thats not a major impediment to selling the film, Pasyanos said of the tab. A distributor would pick that up. The key is getting a distributor.
This is the one lesson they didnt teach in the 42 books on moviemaking that Pasyanos read after he decided to make his own movie: How to get a distributor. This is the wall that Pasyanos now must break through to reach an audience.
The comic misadventures of a cardboard-box salesman, Boxedman is pretty much inspired by Pasyanoss own career in the wonderful world of corrugated packaging, where bosses, secretaries, clients and assorted goofballs collide.
Its a fish-out-of-water story about a young, insecure guy who graduates school and goes to work as a box salesman, he said. They say to write what you know, so I did.
Script in hand, he bought a 28-year-old 16mm Arriflex camera for $6,500. He filmed 140 scenes on 60 locations all over Rhode Island, from the Jane Pickens Theatre in Newport to Crystal Thermoplastic Inc. in Cumberland. He used more than 100 actors and extras, with 43 speaking roles. He shot the movie on weekends, about a month of shooting, which he completed in January 1998.
Boxedman features standup comic Richard Ace Aceto, a North Providence native who now lives in Massachusetts, Terri Leander of Providence and Elliot Cohan of North Providence.
As for the logistical problems involved in moving large groups of people and technicians through their paces, Pasyanos said the a smile, If I had known, I would have set the whole thing in my living room with three characters.
Pasyanos attracted the interest and support of Cranston film editor Tom Ohanian, a double Oscar-winner for his work the Avid computer editing system, Ohanians expertise has been brought to bear on dozens of films, including the forthcoming Star Wars installment, for which he served as a technical advisor.
The two men finished editing the movie last spring. Pasyanos said Ohanians insights and technique were marvelous.
It was amazing. You wonder is it even going to be coherent? You dont know, Pasyanos said. When the scenes go together, it was like magic, like giving birth.
Boxedman has already broken through with one audience, at last years Rhode Island International Film Festival, where the comedy won the Best of Fest award, which is determined by audience vote.
It gets laughs in all the right places, he said.
Pasyanos, 47, loves to laugh. He sits on the edge of the sofa and leans forward when he speaks, gesturing vividly with his arms and hands. His laughter comes in explosive burst, lighting up his eyes.
He grew up in Middletown and graduated from Rogers High School in 1969.
I had trash grades Ds and Fs, he said, laughing again. I was kind of out of control. I think I had a good time from what I remember.
He became entranced with motion pictures when he saw his first James Bond film, Dr. No, back in 1962 and has been hooked on Bond movies ever since. He admires mainstream directors, especially Woody Allen, Bobby and Peter Farrelly, James Cameron and Steven Spielberg.
I had the experience of a lifetime making it, he said. I want to do it again. I want to do it again very badly. Seeing the project through from beginning to end its gratifying, clearly the biggest thing Ive ever done in my life.
What finally pried Pasyanos out of the house and into moviemaking was a pair of events in a 12-hour period: He saw Edward Burns film The Brothers McMullen and finished reading Rebel Without a Crew, Robert Rodriguezs account of the making of his first movie, El Mariachi.
Burns film, which he wrote, produced, directed and starred in, was modest but very effective. Rodriguezs tale of guerilla cinema was captivating. Experiencing both feelings made Pasyanos believe that he could indeed make his own movie.
It was like a moment of clarity. Bingo, It came together, he said. I thought it was doable.
The subtitle of Rodriguezs book is instructive: How a 23-year-old filmmaker with $7,000 became a Hollywood player. But for Pasyanos Rodriguez neglected to bring something up.
The one thing he didnt mention is that the competition among films out there is severe, and the competition is heating up, he said. And I see it getting more intense as digital video opens up to more people. It will be an intensely different world 10 years from now.
Pasyanos is working on two new screenplays and is putting together a book on his experience in moviemaking part comic, part instructional, part inspirational, he said. You always surprise yourself when you take on something new.
And he continues to send Boxedman information packets to distributors, continues to persevere, continues to hope.
I feel like I almost got to the finish line, and Im just dangling there, he said. Its not over yet. But Ive run the damn race. Itll just be sweeter when I cross the finish line.
For more information on Boxedman, check Pasyanoss Web site, www.boxedman.com