Moving ‘Around’ Jersey City resident spins life lessons into film

Life provides many opportunities for the young and not-so-easily broken.

For Jersey City resident Dave Spaltro, having a limited cash supply or getting evicted from an apartment wasn’t cause for dismay – it all became new material for the aspiring filmmaker.

His debut film Around, which screens on Oct. 15 at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City, is loosely based on his life. Written and directed by Spaltro, the 104-minute film was shot in only 27 days at 190 locations around NYC.

With a budget of only $200,000 split among 20 credit cards, shooting was hectic.

There were “security issues, car accidents, sets [being] built and painted over night,” Spaltro said.

Over thirty young actresses tried out for the lead role over a long weekend in January 2007. He eventually cast Molly Ryman.

“Molly is naturally beautiful,” said Spaltro, “when she walked into the room, [the room] felt a little bit brighter.” Originally from the Midwest, Ryman now lives in NYC pursuing a career in acting.

For his male lead, Spaltro chose Rob Evans, a Los Angeles based actor who has appeared in several NYC stage productions and the film Heaven’s Fall, which won the 2007 Hollywood Film Festival’s Best Feature. But, Spaltro admits Evans is very different from himself.

“If I got a Guatemalan child, it would have been [more like] me than Rob,” Spaltro said, “but that is a true testament to his acting.”

Telling stories

Growing up in Pavonia, Spaltro attended high school at the Hudson County Schools of Technology (HCST), a state-funded school promoting non-traditional forms of education. Instead of subjects like math and science, Spaltro focused his creative talents toward acting, producing, and writing.

“I always wanted to tell stories,” said Spaltro, who originally wanted to pursue a career creating graphic novels. But, Spaltro knew he wouldn’t be happy “sitting alone at a typewriter.”

“I wanted to collaborate,” he said, explaining how every person – the actors, set designers, production crew – has the opportunity to input creativity; everyone’s unique vision of the film shapes the final version.

So after graduating from HCST, Spaltro left Jersey City to attend the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. “I knew I wanted to [pursue film],” Spaltro said, “but I was seeing if I could really do it.”

After years of paying for school and living expenses in NYC, he finally earned his MFA in film. But soon after, Spaltro was evicted from his apartment.

“I sold all my stuff,” Spaltro said, “and threw my clothes in a bag that didn’t even belong to me.” He left New York City for Europe.

“If I could have left the planet, I would have,” Spaltro said. After meandering through Europe by rail, Spaltro took an opportunity to teach English in Seoul, South Korea. Once in Seoul, Spaltro experienced a severe monsoon season. Finally able to devote time to crafting his story, Spaltro wrote the script for Around.

According to Spaltro, 95 percent of the events depicted in the movie actually happened in his life, but Spaltro maintains the film is not an autobiography.

“There’s a lot of word for word, but I’m scared to say bio-flick. [It’s] sort of a collection of events – a valentine to a certain period of my life and to certain people,” Spaltro said. He added, “The really boring stuff is fake.”

Producer Nick Boris paired with Spaltro to co-produce the film. In an interview with, Boris said, “I want people to walk away with a similar story to [Spaltro]. I want people to walk away with a belief in themselves and [know] that there is nothing that can’t be overcome – that stories don’t end.”

With the making of Around behind him, Spaltro is again open to possibilities. He hopes to write more scripts and is even considering a sequel.

“I lived [the film], revised it, put it out there; it defines me, but it’s not me,” Spaltro said.

On Oct. 15, Around will be screened as part of the New Filmmakers Celebrate New York event, held by Anthology Film Archives in New York City. For more information on the film please visit: Comments on this story can be sent to:


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