By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Oneonta “has literally everything,” said co-director Korey Rowe, as his “Asteroid” was screen-tested Sunday, Nov. 1, at Foothills.
“I needed an antique printing press for a commercial: I went to The Farmers’ Museum,” said Rowe, who co-directed the Cuyle Carvin vehicle with Dylan Avery. All three are Oneontans.
“We have police and fire chiefs who are willing to drive down Main Street, sirens blaring, to give us
15 seconds of film. “In LA, closing a street like that would have cost us a million dollars. Here? $25.”
Rowe and Avery, whose debut film “Loose Change” was a controversial hit, returned to the area to film “Asteroid,” starring Carvin as Spencer, a man who returns to his hometown, only to find that his house is about to be destroyed by an asteroid.
A rough cut of the film, minus some of the soundtrack, was screened for the actors, crew and others involved in the production at Foothills. (It was the first public event, other than the weekly church services, at the civic center since the COVID-19 threat arrived.)
It also marks the debut of the Cooperstown, Oneonta, Otsego County Film Partnership
Inc – COOP – which hopes to bring filmmakers to the area.
“The Hudson Valley made $25 million last year from the film industry,” said Avery. “From construction to catering, everybody can benefit. We’re clean, we’re close, and there’s no reason not to bring film crews here.”
The film was shot over two weeks in August on location around Oneonta: at Brooks BBQ, the Red Jug Pub, and Munson’s Hardware (staffed by LeJon Woods, playing Kenny, Spencer’s best friend).
Viewers may also recognize some familiar names and places, including WZOZ’s Leslie Ann Parmerter on the radio and Mayor Muller (Elise Rovinsky) on her bike.
“Kim Muller was the mayor when we were kids, so we wanted to play tribute to that,”
said Rowe. “And Leslie Ann has been on the radio forever.“There was a scene that got cut where Spencer and Kenny made a joke about her being a recording, and went to the station, she was just a tape on a loop.”
There’s even a few inside jokes. Producer Joel Plue, in a cameo at a town hall, riffed the city as “on our OWN-eonta,” (to groans from both the characters and, playfully, from the audience) and the TV newsman mispronouncing the name as “ONE-eonta.”
“It’s a very Oneonta film,” said Avery. “But we think a lot of people who grew up in small
towns will be able to relate.”
Added Rowe, “This film is a love letter to Oneonta.”
Returning here after living and working in the film industry in Los Angeles, Rowe and Avery began discussing making their own movies again. “Dylan had said he wanted to make a narrative film, and when I went over to his house, he had three ideas written on the white board.”
One of them – “Man’s house gets hit by an asteroid” – caught his attention, and every Monday they had “writing days” to finalize the script.
Rowe, who had worked with Carvin on his film “Dolls,” reached out to him about the role of Spencer. “He said ‘yes’ without even reading the script,” said Avery. “And when he read the script, he loved it.”
“I think it’s such a charming film,” he said. “It’s a nice highlight of the area.”
The audience was asked to give feedback on the film, which Rowe and Avery will incorporate into the final edit.
“A test screening can make or break a film,” said Avery. “The feedback we get will determine the film we give to directors.”
From here, they will finish editing the film and begin submitting it to festivals, including Sundance, Slamdance and South by Southwest.