Aug. 23, 2013 By Bill Parry
A short film will have its world premiere at the same Sunnyside Gardens bar where it was conceived and filmed during the summer.
The Black Knights of Skillman, a gangster-fantasy, will debut at Flynn’s Garden Inn with three screenings on September 1st.
The event has created quite a buzz. There is a 20-member cast, largely Flynn’s regulars, who range in age from their early 30’s to late 50’s. Furthermore, it is filmed in Sunnyside.
The project is the brainchild of Tommy Turner, an acclaimed director of underground avant garde films and resident of 47th Street. The Black Knights of Skillman is his first film in 20 years.
“I’ve been working on the script for four years,” Turner said. “I love making films and it is great getting back to it.” His films are of the Cinema of Transgression genre and are seen occasionally in art festivals in Berlin, Paris, San Francisco and New York City.
Turner branched out to other visual arts and writings during the last two decades, wary of the new digital technology. “I did all my films on Super 8, and that’s a format that is now obsolete,” Turner said.
Everything became possible when Terry Murphy became his neighbor last year. The freelance editor had all his own equipment, including a Canon DSLR camera and a Final Cut editing system.
The third member of the production team is Greg “Dutch” Edeburn, a professional stage manager who returned to the neighborhood this spring after nine months with the Jekyll & Hyde touring company. He became the group’s Production Coordinator.
“None of this would’ve happened without Paul Flynn,” Turner said of the owner of Flynn’s Garden Inn (46-08 Skillman Ave.). “I don’t know of any other place where the owner would turn over the whole place whenever I needed to shoot.”
“Business-wise it was an enormous success,” Flynn said. “Summer is traditionally a quiet period for bars because so many go on holiday; however, The Black Knights changed that.” The frequent shoots would turn into alcohol-infused events during a five week period.
Terry Murphy, the projects cinematographer and editor, said: “The thing about this film is that, since it was shot in our favorite bar with our good friends, the celebration started before and continued throughout the shoot…now is that good or bad? I guess the viewers will decide.”
The end result was nearly 30 hours of raw footage that Murphy is in the daunting process of editing into a 25-minute movie. “I’m burning the midnight oil trying to get the final cut ready for the premiere,” he said. “My alternative title for the project is The Thing That Ate My Summer.”
According to Turner, the movie was supposed to be 10 minutes long. “Some of the improvisation was so good there’s no way to cut them out,” he said. “Little snippets turned into important scenes and it all adds up.”
Edeburn, back from his 26 city tour, said “I can’t imagine it happening anywhere else. Everyone got along so well.”
Brian O’Connor, 59, a doorman at a Manhattan high rise, said, “I play a sinister crazy dude and that fits me.”
Eamon Blake, 57, who retired as a Lieutenant after 31 years in the NYPD, said, “I get to make a toast and look threatening, two things I’m very good at.”
No cast member enjoyed himself more than Morgan O’Flaherty, 56, a senior associate at a big NYC insurance company and an avid cinephile who lists Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia as his favorite movie. “After my wedding it’s the second best thing that ever happened to me,”O’Flaherty said. “To play a gangster in a movie is a dream come true, a tremendous experience.”
The Black Knights of Skillman will have showings at 8 pm, 10 pm and midnight the night of its premiere. “I expect a mad, joyful spectacle that will be a very interesting event,” Edeburn said.
The event will even feature a Hollywood-style red carpet arrival.
“I’m just looking forward to the traditional swag bag at the premiere!” Blake said.