Jul 28, 2014

Man's Weird Dream Becomes Short Film

A short film from a Bridgewater production company is being screened at the New Jersey Film Festival.

Man's Weird Dream Becomes Short Film

Some people dream of making movies, but Joe DeVito III actually dreams movies.

The filmmaker, who owns the Bridgewater-based production company Mariano Films, had a dream once about two guys taking a long walk back home after a rough weekend in Atlantic City.

As they make their way along a seemingly deserted road, the men become convinced they’re the last two people on Earth, and that desperate steps must be taken to ensure survival [it’s safe to say that DeVito has some weird dreams].

But that dream became “Roadside Picnic,” a short film that will be shown during the New Jersey Film Festival at Rutgers University in New Brunswick on Friday.

DeVito’s film stars Joe Rodriguez and John Pizzigoni as the two men, one a tough New Jersey type, the other a bit of a neurotic. The director says the two character types [but not these characters] are in a feature-length comedy he wants to make, and that “Roadside Picnic” was filmed in one day as a screen test.

Getting the movie into the festival, DeVito said, was a pleasant surprise.

“It was solid enough that I could put it together as an individual piece and submit it to festivals and kind of show the world, ‘Joe DeVito can do this,’” he said. “And hopefully it will entice some investors to get involved in my future feature-length project.”

DeVito teaches digital filmmaking and web design at Immaculata High School in Somervile, and has been making movies since he was 10 years old. He owned a company called Forward Features that made corporate videos for two years.

In addition, DeVito’s worked with Steve and Jonathan Kalafer, who own New Jersey Pictures. Steve Kalafer has been nominated for three Academy Awards, and DeVito is working with the Kalafers on a documentary about the P.S. 22 Chorus on Staten Island.

Jonathan Kalafer is also a producer of “Roadside Picnic.”

In 2007, DeVito started Mariano Films as an outlet to make his own movies, which include “Open 24 Hours,” about a day at the . He also produced and directed “Handicapped,” which was shown at the Wildwood Film Festival in 2008.

“Roadside Picnic” is the first film DeVito’s written, produced and directed.

Mariano Films is a family business, with DeVito getting help from his father, Joe DeVito Jr., who’s the executive producer of the movie, and his sister Janelle who was the editor and associate producer. His girlfriend, Elizabeth L. Ulrich, is a co-producer of the movie.

DeVito said comedy is his passion, and calls “Roadside Picnic” a dark comedy. It certainly goes to dark places, but never gets gory or graphic.

Modern technology has made it possible for anyone to make a movie. DeVito has never shot on film and said he has no desire to because digital equipment makes it possible to produce high-quality movies at fairly affordable prices.

One downside to all the technology, though, is that it’s hard to stand out with so many movies made.

“Being a filmmaker in the world today is very difficult,” DeVito said, “because anyone can pick up a camera and make a movie, but few can do it well.”

“Roadside Picnic” will be shown at the New Jersey Film Festival on Friday at 7 p.m. in Voorhees Hall #105, 71 Hamilton St./College Avenue Campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick [near the corner of George and Hamilton streets].

Also being shown are the short films, “White Nurse Is In” and “Z,” and the feature “Next Door to the Velinskys."

Admission is $10.

For information, call 732-932-8482 or go to NJFilmFest.com.

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