movie about a small boy, a large bird and a dark secret
Elaine Weeks, photos Darren Kwok
They say that
you've got to be a little crazy to work with animals and children.
Windsor born filmmaker Matt Gallagher may not be daft but while
shooting his latest movie Ringneck, comprising a cast of birds and
kids in Windsor's Little Italy, things did get a little crazy for
in Toronto, recruited a posse of local talent and volunteers to
create his short film adapted from a story by Michael Allcock about
an Italian family and their unusual neighbours who keep a ringneck
pheasant as a pet.
a pheasant from Jack Miner's in Kingsville to portray the pet but
before they could begin shooting this past June, the bird flew the
coop. Unable to locate the bird, the Windsor Police were called
in and they issued an "All Points Bulletin" to be on the lookout
for one pheasant on the lam. The bird was eventually located two
alleys away, and Allcock, who had read that pheasants flew straight
up, was able to nab him with a net.
In all, four pheasants
were recruited for the movie: besides the escapee, a stand-in adult
pheasant, a young pheasant for earlier scenes and even a dead one
formerly of Pelee Island which was kept frozen until ready for his
scene. Without giving away too much of the plot, circumstances surrounding
the death of the pheasant and the death of its owner cause 12 year-old
Mario to harbor a dark secret for 30 years.
Finding the boys
to play Mario and his friend Sam was the greatest challenge for
casting director Marshall Falcin who used local media for recruiting
much of the film's talent.
Just when it seemed
that Falcin was never going to find the right boys, Tyler DiLallo's
mom Debbie heard about the call on the radio. She told her sister
in-law Lilly Magri, they brought their sons in for a tryout and
despite having no previous acting experience, the pair got the roles.
In spite of some late hours shooting and missing the last week of
school at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in LaSalle, Anthony and Tyler had
a ball doing the film. The hard part for Tyler was "some of the
swearing - and having to see the old lady take her clothes off."
shot Cass last year, an award winning documentary about one of the
toughest neighbourhoods in Detroit if not the U.S., produced Ringneck
with most of his own money and the help of a lot of volunteers after
funding fell through. Together with director of photography Mark
Cabiddu of Toronto whom Gallagher met while studying communications
at the University of Windsor, and his cast and crew of about 40
people, Gallagher shot the movie in 6 days, mostly inside two small
neighbouring houses on Marentette Avenue.
Kwok and I arrived on the set during the last day of shooting. We
shoehorned ourselves, along with five other people, a large camera,
lights, a boom, a dolly, etc., into a miniscule room to watch Mario
and Benny Santoro, who plays Mario's failed lounge singer father
Giovanni, do a scene in an even tinier bathroom.
wasn't an overly hot day.
Santoro - also
without prior acting experience but admitting to being the class
clown in the 70's at Brennan High - was supposedly guiding his "son"
in the finer points of shaving but in reality, sharing his take
on life. Magri cracks up on cue at the lyrics of Santoro's improvised
absurd song and it's a wrap after just one take.
We are very impressed.
These are some extremely professional amateurs.
Prior to shooting
his film, Gallagher spent days driving up and down area streets
trying to locate two adjacent houses that would be suitable for
his intentions. When he discovered the right location, the neighbours
didn't seem to mind the temporary invasion of their quiet street
and were in fact, quite helpful. "We were having trouble finding
the right era of clothes and ended up canvassing neighbours to see
if they had any clothes from the 50s or 60s," recalls Gallagher,
"No problem! they told us and they produced some old clothes for
us that they had held on to, just in case."
Gallagher is grateful
for all the help from volunteers and CBC Windsor. Following two
to three months of editing, Ringneck will be ready for its Windsor
premiere at the Capitol Theatre this fall.
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