‘Dragged’ in the dark

New short comedy featured in Manhattan film festival

How would you feel if you were taken against your will and locked in a dark basement by a man dressed in full drag? Hoboken resident Jezabel Montero’s new dark comedy “The Basement” proves that not all kidnappings are what they appear.
The risqué short film features actor Hank Kim and Hoboken actress Margo Singaliese, who has appeared in “Law & Order” and as Lisa Cestone in the HBO hit series “The Sopranos.” With plot twists and an ending that Montero is keeping under lock and key, the short film is a quick watch that is sure to prove worth the 10-minute run time.
“I can’t tell you the ending,” Montero said. “But there are twists and it’s weird. I love suspense and quirky, odd stuff.”
“The Basement” was selected by The New York City Downtown Short Film Festival to be screened in the Audience Choice category. Taking place on Oct. 22, the more votes the film gets that night, the better chance Montero and company have of moving on to the final selection in the larger, annual festival in April.


“There are definitely some parts that are pretty risqué.” – Margo Singaliese

“We’re super excited about the screening,” she said. “We’re looking forward to a great response.”
Actress and Hoboken resident Margo Singaliese plays the kidnapped woman, and admits the dark thriller might not be for virgin eyes.
“There are definitely some parts that are pretty risqué,” she said. “It can be sort of shocking.” The veteran actress said the shoot was one of the most physically demanding she has ever worked on.
“One scene, I am tied up and thrown down to the floor,” she said. “I got winded and bruised. I was like a poster for battered woman.” In fact, the actress may have broken a finger during the shoot, when her finger was accidentally stepped on.
“[The actor] was throwing her down for real,” Montero said. “And she was tied up. She didn’t even have a hand to break her fall.”
But for Singaliese, what doesn’t kill her only makes for a stronger performance.
“I do a lot of comedy,” she said. “So this was a real stretch for me, and an amazing experience.”
For more information on “The Basement,” go to www.nocloutprods.com.

What a production

The 15-member cast and crew of “The Basement” worked two full 18-hour days to complete the film on time and on budget. The location was a basement in Long Valley, about an hour’s drive from Montero’s Hoboken home.
“It was absolutely crazy,” Montero said. “The actors get a break in between scenes to do make-up or costume changes or whatever. But the directors and the lighting people, we were always working. It really felt like a professional set.”
Although the short film is a full 10 minutes, Montero originally planned on almost doubling the length.
“I had 70 scenes storyboarded,” she said. “We only ended up being able to shoot 40 of them.” The actress said she learned a lot about the art of making a movie, especially scene selection.
“You have all these cool and exciting scenes you want to shoot,” she said. “But, you need to have a movie at the end of the day.”
The film only cost Montero and her production company No Clout Productions $4,000. “That’s unheard of today,” she said. “The movie looks like it cost $20,000 at least.”
For information about the New York City Downtown Film Festival, in which “The Basement” will be screened on Oct. 22, go to www.nycdowntownshorts.blogspot.com.
Sean Allocca can be reached at editorial@hudsonreporter.com


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