Horseshoe crabs and a longing couple get film awards
Campbell Dalglish on the set of “Road Kill,” a short film that’s getting acclaim, with director of photography Niav County. INSET: Movie Poster

Courtesy photos

Horseshoe crabs and a longing couple get film awards

Story By: LINDA LEUZZI
2/16/2017


In a romantic ritual, a childless couple makes a wish on the beach during the night of the rose moon.  It is the time when the number of mating horseshoe crabs peaks and when the couple first fell in love. The husband writes a poem and throws it in the water on their 7th anniversary. While the horseshoe crabs enact their innate ceremony fostering new life, the couple hopes this enduring species’ procreation and the scattered written words will bless them. 

That premise, and the resulting drama with double meanings, a tragic incident and how these two deal with it in a 21-minute film called “Road Kill,” won Campbell Dalglish several short-film festival awards, including best film, best actor at the Best Film Awards in Str. Aurel Vlaicu, Romania; best director in the Lake View International Film Festival at Punjab University, Chandighar, India; 3rd best of the fest, best actress in Feel the Reel in Glasgow, Scotland; and best of the fest at the Los Angeles Cinefest.

The leads, actress and producer Julie Fain Lawrence and actor Fernando Londono, played the couple, but locals were tapped to fill in the blanks.

“I shot this film in here,” said Dalglish, looking over at the Blue Velvet Lounge sign at the Plaza Cinema & Media Arts Center in Patchogue. “There’s a restaurant scene with the couple and I got tables from the BrickHouse Brewery. James Skidmore played the bartender. [Veterinarians] Dave and Dee Hensen played two people sitting in the restaurant.” 

Steve McCloskey, the Brookhaven hamlet owner of Home Staging, provided the production design and was an associate producer.

“We didn’t have access to a restaurant to shoot,” McCloskey said. “So we used the front area of the theater and moved a lot of the chairs back and set up tables with candles and place settings and moved the curtains around to cover the screen and highlighted the bar area. We used some sculptures of John Cino’s and put flower arrangements on the tables and the bar. That shoot was overnight.”

Other scenes took place at the nearby Off Key Tiki bar as well as at a hotel in Amagansett, where the couple was staying on their anniversary night, and resulting outdoor shots on the beach. “I brought in some artwork and pillows; it was similar to my staging work,” McCloskey said of the items jammed in his Jeep for the bedroom and living room suite. “And basically, that was it.” 

Plaza Cinema’s marketing and promotions committee chair, Caroline Hunt, was among the restaurant diners in what represented an East End eatery. “There were about eight of us sitting at tables pretending to eat and we were dressed in smart Hamptons-type clothes, while the stars were the focus,” Hunt explained.  

“It was a lot of fun and now every time we Google our names, we come up as actors,” she added, laughing.

Dalglish researched the rose moon/horseshoe crab phenomena, something he and his wife Catherine Oberg just happened to witness on a stroll to the beach at the end of their block.

One of the film’s stars is horseshoe crab Lady Madonna. Dalglish discovered the crabs’ amazing endurance (their ancestors date back 450 million years), ritual and characteristics from a Fire Island National Seashore park ranger during a rose moon tour at Smith Point County Park. Lady Madonna was nurtured, kept healthy for a scene, then released into the ocean. (They get harvested illegally, he pointed out, but that’s an environmental subject for another day.)

Dalglish’s thought processes are always contemplating film scenes. He is founding director of D’Arc Productions, his documentary projects are prodigious, and he is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and director as well as a tenured professor in the film program at City College of New York. He is a film commissioner for Suffolk County as well as president and a founder of Plaza Cinema, which screens foreign, independent and acclaimed films at their Terry Street location. He writes their reviews. 

“Road Kill” was shot in the summer of 2015 during the big season of the orgy that June, he explained. Then he sent the film out to 20 festivals; ‘nice shots,’ he was told, but the festival deciders didn’t get the story.

“Then I worked with a cinematographer and introduced a static shot at the beginning, of the ocean and the beach with a one-minute monologue from Fernando,” he said. That helped explain what was going on. Dalglish tried distributing the film again to festivals the Saturday after Thanksgiving 2016; he got a call right away from the Culver City Film Festival. It was an official selection screened Dec. 7. 

“Over the last two months it’s been accepted in 12 film festivals,” he said. “Now, they get it.”

Dalglish created it with the two leads, a cinematographer and an original score by Robert Elhai. Besides the cast and diners, there were crewmembers, post production, sound design and supporters. But it was pretty bare bones, no production assistant or assistant director. It’s more manageable that way, he said. 

He would show it at Plaza Cinema once it’s part of a group of films that might travel.

As for the future, “maybe it’s a calling card for a feature,” he said.