Local filmmakers Damian Voerg, Frank Keilly, and Ron Keilly, will present their latest project “Blink,” a suspense thriller, this Monday. The film short, which was shot in Hoboken and Manhattan, features a stellar cast and an intricate plot that will keep people guessing until the end.
The short will be screened at Oddfellows, 80 River St., in Hoboken on Nov. 6 and will include members of the cast and crew, plus specials all night. (See sidebar for details.)
The production team
Hudson County residents Damian Voerg and brothers Frank and Ron Keilly began working together five years ago, although they have known each other 10 years. The trio produced two other shorts, “Big Dreams” and “Big Dreams II,” which the three wrote together. The three make up the most important parts of a production team: director, director of photography, and producer.
Director Damian Voerg has more than nine years experience in the entertainment industry. In addition to his directing work, while in California he did work for Universal Studios and New Line Entertainment. Recent credits include production designer for “Serial” and lighting director for “Shoots and Ladders”.
Director of Photography Frank Keilly began working in television production on shows Ricki Lake and Judge Hatchett. His recent film credits include: “The War Within,” which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, and the feature “Shoots and Ladders.”
Producer Ron Keilly has worked as a producer and technical director in the corporate field for over six years. He produced events for Hilary Clinton, Hilary Swank, Martha Stewart, and others. He recently produced the independent feature “Shoots and Ladders.”
According to Frank, the three got together for a brainstorming session to see if they could still work together. “We realized our humor was the same,” said Frank.
“We were coming at it from three different angles and it was still funny,” agreed Damian. “As far as the rolls go, we realized early on that we had a solid production team,” said Frank, “from the three different angles.”
Although the three share the work load, Ron Keilly credits Damian with speeding up the process. “Damian is prolific,” said Ron, “working with him, we got things done much faster.”
“Blink” will be presented for the first time at Oddfellows on Monday, Nov. 6. The night kicks off with a party at 8 p.m. that will include free food courtesy of Oddfellows, and drink specials all night.
The story follows Sandra Miller (played by the excellent Kristina Klebe) who tries to help old friend Jeff Christianson (played by Eric Alperin) by recommending him for a job at her company. Unfortunately for Sandra, Jeff parties too much after hours, making him a poor candidate for any job. Sandra begins to regret her decision, all while having personal difficulties with her boyfriend Bobby. Her boss Thomas (played by Sean Doherty) explains to Sandra that she can’t continue to cover for him. Yet the more she tries to reason with Jeff, the more unbalanced he gets.
This character-driven story gradually builds in tension with suspenseful scenes cropping up in unexpected moments. The realistic dialogue, paired with superb acting (particularly the leads), make this a thrilling view.
Other cast members include: Tom Arlotta, Rick Birdsall, Ingrid Fenn, Michael Flink, Jimmy Luce, James McAndrews, Chris McNamara, Gamal Steele, Joseph Tudisco, Gavin-Keith Umeh, and Erin Walters. The trio plans to submit this film into the Hoboken International Film Festival.
Draws from life
While creating characters for the script, the three drew on their vast experience of life in an urban environment. Although shot in Hoboken at various locations (Oddfellows and Willie McBride’s are two such spots), the set design, lighting, and camera angles make the familiar locations look different.
“We’ve met so many interesting people in Hoboken over the years,” said Frank. “We have a whole data base of different types.”
“There have been other scripts that we worked on where we created these characters based on what we observe,” said Damian.
“I think we are all observationalists,” added Frank.
This helped the three create composite characters based on some of the quirky people they met over the years. The end result in the movie is varied and complex characters, like the beautiful Sandra, who has a blind faith in her friends; and Jeff, who is self-destructive and manipulative.
According to Ron, many of the actors followed the Method school of acting, taking on the identity of character like a second skin.
“The people we hired were very into their characters,” said Ron.
“Actor Eric Alperin still answers his phone as Jeff when one of us calls him,” added Damian.
Behind the scenes
The filming for the short was completed in about a month and a half and was shot this past March and April. The trio began editing in July. As with any independent film, they experienced some setbacks, mostly because of budget.
“The big dilemma was getting all the actors to come to the set each day,” said Damian. “The three things that make a good production are: preparation, vision, and it is unfortunate – but it is money.”
“Luckily in the digital age it is possible to finance movies now,” said Ron. “We were able to do it because the cost came down with digital, so we were able to finance it ourselves.”
In addition to minor difficulties the crew also witnessed some humorous situations when they filmed in Manhattan.
According to Voerg, another film also called “Blink” starring Leonardo DiCaprio was being shot in the city. While they filmed, they noticed a photographer who was star-searching, taking pictures of their production. “He was very clandestine,” said Ron. “Every time we thought he finally figured it out and left, he popped out from behind a car.”
In addition to the festival in Hoboken, the trio plans to submit the short to other major festivals like Sundance. For their next project, the trio will begin work on their first full-length feature film. The team agree that while a day in film can sometimes last 20 hours from pre to post production – there isn’t anything they’d rather be doing.
“This is what we do because we love to do it,” said Damian.
“If we could do anything that we wanted to do, we would do this,” added Frank.
“I would be more tired working an eight-hour day than we could ever be working on this,” said Damian.
Blink will be screened at Oddfellows, 80 River St., in Hoboken on Monday, Nov. 6. The “Blink website” will be up later this year. Additional screenings to follow. For more information, e-mail: email@example.com The filmmakers would like to extend a very special thanks to Jerry Maher, owner of Oddfellows.
What: Film screening for “Blink,” plus drink specials and free food.
Where: Oddfellows, 80 River St., Hoboken
When: Party starts at 8 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 6.
Who: You! Free and open to the public! (Select cast and crew members will be there.)
Specials: Happy Hour all night (Specials on select drafts and the “Hurricane.”)