The tragic death of a screenwriting mentor is driving a Sheepshead Bay High School teacher to do everything he can to finish a stalled movie project that he has poured his soul into. The New York Daily News is reporting that Keith Black, a math teacher, has started a crowd-funding initiative to realize his dream and honor his deceased friend.
Black’s fallen friend, Mark Troy, was a Hollywood screenwriter who died at the age of 51 from meningitis. According to Black, Troy believed in his work and co-wrote his script. The Daily News described their relationship and the sacrifices Black made to make the project:
“He was more than someone just writing the script,” Black said of Troy, with whom he worked primarily over the telephone to finish the screenplay over a period of two years. “He would do anything to make me succeed. He believed in Keith Black 100%.”
The finished product so impressed the accomplished cast members, Black said, that they agreed to work for next to nothing.
Black — who sold off his prized comic book collection and dipped into his retirement savings to pour $70,000 into the movie — grudgingly abandoned the project about a year ago with little more than a quarter of the movie in the can.
But then, this past May, Troy suddenly died of meningitis at age 51.
“Him passing reawakened my dream and his dream to get this movie on the big screen,” said Black. “I got the momentum back. I gotta do it for me. I gotta do it for Mark.”
As evidenced in the trailer above, the cast includes some famous actors including Mickey Rooney, Renee Taylor and Dick Cavett. While 25 percent of the movie had been shot before production got shut down, Black plans to scrap that footage and start over because several of the actors have died and because Black has trimmed down his physique considerably.
According to Black’s crowdfunding page, he is looking to raise an ambitious $700,000 to finish the project. If you would like to contribute to Black’s project and donate to his cause, you can do so by clicking here.
Best of luck Keith.
More than 100 people gathered yesterday to gawk at Hollywood using our neighborhood as the backdrop for a “battle in an urban wasteland.” The big budget film Cymbeline stars Ethan Hawke, Mila Jovovich and Ed Harris in a modern-day retelling of the William Shakespeare play of the same name. Only Hawke and Harris were on-scene yesterday, filming a shootout that climaxed with the explosion of a cop car.
Most of the people stood around for hours as set guys milled about, readying props and preparing shots, for what ultimately turned out to be little more than a few minutes of actual action. A shootout was filmed in the morning. Then they recorded a few blasts ripping into the windshield of the cop car. Ed Harris, rifle in hand, took a few attempts to lob a grenade under the cop car while standing in the doorway of the Burger King (2481 Knapp Street). Finally, the day ended after the car’s doors and hood were rigged with explosives and blasted off just after 5:00 p.m.
Some spectators stood around after the show and got to see Ethan Hawke strut around. He spent most of the day inside the Burger King’s interior, which we’re told was revamped for the movie. They made no changes to the exterior or Knapp Street to make it look like a wasteland. Go figure.
View the photos from Sheepshead Bites and our contributors!
Photo by Robert Fernandez
Sheepshead Bay and other parts of Southern Brooklyn are quickly becoming a fashionable place for Hollywood types to film their movies. The latest movie filming our streets is Cymbeline, a modern-day adaptation of the William Shakespeare classic, not the Pink Floyd song.
The movie, directed by Michael Almereyda, stars the likes of Ethan Hawke, Mila Jovovich and Ed Harris and will be filming scenes this Thursday and Friday on Knapp Street between Avenue X and Avenue Y. Shooting will also take place on Avenue Y between Knapp Street and Bringham Street. One scene will be shot at the Burger King (2481 Knapp Street). Here is the description of the scene from the event notice issued:
I E BURGER KING
2481 KNAPP STREET, Brooklyn (Interior Exterior)
Description: A battle in urban wasteland btwn a biker gang and local police. Various interior-exterior scenes in small empty burger king and surrounding private parking lot 3 Picture Squad Cars, 8 motorcycles. prop guns, handcuffs and ak47. flame bars and smokers. Prop cadaver smolders on gurney. The Interiors and Exteriors are happening simultaneously as the battle engulfs the closed burger king . The entire company will be staging on the private exterior parking lot on premises of the closed burger kingP
Pretty cool, but also kind of sad that the local Burger King on Knapp Street might easily double for a scene set in an “urban wasteland.” Still, it is interesting how much Hollywood activity has come to the area in recent months, drawing in the likes of Bill Murray, Jason Clarke and even the Spider-Man 2 crew in Bensonhurst. If anyone near the site catches some interesting photos or runs into a celebrity, please share them with us!
Bill Murray (center, back row) hanging out with some Avenue U fans (Photo courtesy of Dominick Arabia)
The odds of Bill Murray moving to Southern Brooklyn might be growing as long as people like Dominick Arabia and his family keep up the friendly community relations.
Previously, we reported on the exciting Murray activity near Avenue U as he is filming the movie St. Vincent with stars Naomi Watts, Melissa McCarthy, and Chris O’Dowd. Reader Dominick Arabia sent us the following message on his interaction with Murray that led to the photo presented above:
[Bill Murray] was shooting his new movie on Avenue U in Brooklyn yesterday 08/18/2013. It was great, as Bill and Niami Watts had their campers parked 10 feet from my home on East 16th . At the end of the day, Bill Murray was returning back to his camper and came directly over to my home where my family and some of my kids friends were sitting outside on our porch. Bill came over and said hello. He said to us that he really liked our house and was admiring the brick work. We said thank you, and asked if we can get a picture with him. He replied, how about if I sit with you guys on the stoop, and had his security person who was also great, take pictures of all of us sitting on our porch. Bill was wonderful, after a long day of work to take the time to sit with some fans like a regular guy. He spoke with my wife Carmela, and both my sons, Michael and Marcello along with my son’s girlfriend Stephanie and all my son’s friends. It was a great 15 minutes or so with Bill and a memorable evening for all of us as fans.
I am a HUGE Bill Murray fan, like millions of others, and it pleases me to no end to learn how cool and down to earth the man is in real life. Thanks for the picture and the story, Dominick. I am officially pumped up to see St. Vincent now.
Actor James Gandolfini passed away tragically last week in Italy, but even though the man is gone, his last film will bring him back to life – in the streets of Southern Brooklyn. The New York Daily News is reporting that Gandolfini’s last film, Animal Control, was shot in Sheepshead Bay, Marine park and Flatlands and that Gandolfini connected with many of the local residents while shooting there.
According to IMDB, Animal Rescue, which stars British actor Tom Hardy, is a crime-drama about a lost dog, a scam-artist and a killing. Gandolfini’s scenes were wrapped up about a month ago, making it his final performance. Gandolfini’s friend, Mike Sullivan, who spent a lot of time with the star on his last shoot, describes Gandolofini’s role in the film to the Daily News.
“He plays this bookie who owes money to some Chechen mobsters who wind up taking over his bar and his book,” Sullivan told the Daily News. “He called me the day he flew in to meet the director who was scouting bars in the neighborhood. Jimmy said he really wanted to work with this guy Tom Hardy, an English actor.”
Sullivan and Gandolfini visited many locations in Southern Brooklyn, including Joe LaRussa’s store, called Barber Shop (East 28th Street and Avenue U). LaRussa was heartbroken at the news of Gandolfini’s death, remembering him as a “regular guy.”
“Mike, I’m so sorry about your friend,” he says in an Italian accent. “I tell people James Gandolfini parked his big trailer right in front of my store when he was shooting around the corner at the pizzeria. He posed for a picture. The damned picture didn’t come out. I was so upset. But not as upset as when I hear on the radio that James Gandolfini died in Roma. Oh my God, such a nice guy. A regular guy. Everybody who comes in my store was so, so upset. I have to see the movie he shot here when it comes out.”
For a figure as inspiring, talented and down to earth like Gandolfini to die suddenly, a profoundly sad void is left in anyone that appreciated his work.
It seems like Mani Chulpayev is doing everything he can to make sure someone in Hollywood makes a movie about his life. The Russian gangster from Brighton Beach, famous for being an FBI turncoat and allegedly ordering the murder of rapper Lil’ Phat, is making waves again. According to a report by the Daily Mail, Chulpayev has revealed that he bribed an FBI agent with expensive gifts while Chulpayev was being investigated for murder.
Chulpayev, who immigrated to Brighton Beach in the 1980s, became involved with Russian gangs as a teenager. He was arrested in 1998 and helped bring down a collection of Russian gangsters by cooperating with federal officials.
Despite having been flipped, Chulpayev kept finding himself on the wrong side of the law. He was busted in a car stealing conspiracy but again ratted out bigger players in the schemes, once again receiving a reduced sentence.
Last April, Chulpayev was arrested for orchestrating the murder of Melvin Vernell III (Lil’ Phat). Now Chulpayev is claiming that he had paid off FBI agent Dante Jackson with jewelry, cars, sports tickets and cash in hopes that he would receive a measure of protection.
George Plumides, Chulpayev’s lawyer, issued statements to ABC News which seem to indicate that Jackson had betrayed Chulpayev.
“The agent obstructed a murder investigation. That’s my opinion and it is Mani’s as well. It’s nice to have an FBI agent that is looking over your shoulder, I guess. But I think he was ill-served. He didn’t get a bargain,” Plumides said.
The bizarre aspect of this accusation is that Chulpayev seems to be indicating that he paid off an FBI agent to obstruct the murder investigation of Lil’ Phat on Chulpayev’s behalf. Unless two wrongs make a right, it is hard to understand how malfeasance on the FBI’s part exonerates Chulpayev.
The FBI released in a statement that they are taking Chulpayev’s claim seriously and are thoroughly investigating the matter.
Jason Clark (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Is Southern Brooklyn becoming Hollywood’s latest hot-spot? Late last February, Spider-Man 2 was being secretly filmed in Bensonhurst and now, another big budget flick, The Candy Store, is heading to Brighton Beach, according to a report by Digital Spy.
The Candy Store tells the story of a former covert operative who stumbles upon an insidious organization that sets up shop in Brighton Beach. The film stars Jason Clark, who you may recognize as the guy who waterboards terrorists in Zero Dark Thirty, and Omar Sy, an actor set to star in the new X-Men movie.
Clark and Sy are replacing the much more famous Brad Pitt and Denzel Washington, who sadly won’t be running around Brighton Beach with fake guns. Oh well, it’ll still be cool to see a bit of Hollywood glitz and glamour injected into Brighton Beach.