CITY ISLAND: A BIT OF ALL RIGHT IN UK
Long ago, in my so-called "salad days" (I prefer to think of them as the "pre-dinner drink days") I was friends and collaborators with a group of young film-heads who were working on NYU short films. The work was strictly volunteer and the resulting films were--each and every one--catastrophes of the kind that only film students can produce. Which is to say ambitious, well meaning and totally incomprehensible.
A number of us working on the films were not NYU students, but simply enthusiasts looking for any way to be on a set and learn our craft a bit. I usually performed the function of First Assistant Director, occasionally Unit Production Manager. The experience was invaluable--I learned quickly (and efficiently) how to schedule a film and how a good set was run. One of my non-NYU cohorts was a gifted soundman/editor/all around film buff/enthusiast named Leopold Wurm. In addition to possessing one of the finest names I'd ever heard, we were blessed to share the same sense of humor (and horror) about what we were doing. Inevitably, I made my own short film and Leo truly co-made it with me; I remember several sleepless night in D.A. Pennebaker's editing suite on West 86th Street desperately preparing for a mix that we seemed perpetually unready for (Leo could and did perform every technical function on a film, most of which I could never quite master or even understand; virtually none of those functions still exist in today's digital world. Ah well. Progress).
Leo and I and another couple of collaborators celebrated the end of the successful sound mix the following evening at an Italian restaurant near my then home on MacDougall Street in Greenwich Village, drinking strong cocktails, smoking strong tobacco, eating heavy Veal, weaving about and generally making grandiose pronouncements about our futures. My short film--which helped get me into the American Film Institute graduate program (along, it must be said, with a written reccomendation from a major financial doner) was called "Norman Mailer's Children". Shot in black and white, on 16mm, it was a bastard child rip-off of Jim Jarmusch's very much "then" sensibility--this was the mid-eighties before the true explosion of indie cinema...or perhaps it's fairer to say, before Hollywood and the mainstream culture gave a shit about indie filmmakers. (The film, by the way, is lost...except for a threadbare VHS copy of it that I possess but am too afraid to put into a VHS machine...)
Many years passed. The glory of the internet has brought me and Leo back in touch. Now a producer living and working in England, Leo has been vigilant and generous about sending me materials and photos about my movies as they pass through the UK. Viz:
Ah--but does that prove that "City Island" is truly open in England? Well, if you have any doubt:
How I love London: the phonebooths (or "phoeboxes" as they Englishly call them), the Taxi's, the word "boot", the silly accents. When do I get to live there? And furthermore:
Don't they do this sort of thing rather well? (Aren't I sounding like them? I mean, what's with "rather well"? Awfully chatty, what mate?) Finally:
A million thanks, Leo. Next time we're both in New York I'll buy you dinner at that Italian joint on MacDougall that we closed on that long forgotten night in the mid 1980's. Maybe that nice girl at the next table who we got into a friendly kind of argument with extolling the merits of "Touch Of Evil" over "Kane" will be there again. The name of the restaurant was Monte's. The name of the girl eludes me. I wonder where she is...
Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 11:57 AM