"If this isn't hands-on filmmaking, I don't know what is," said Max Gettinger, the producer of the independent film that Mirabella wrote. The two watched the blood-smearing spectacle from the small courtyard in the rear of the Farside Bar on Washington Street. "Heck, the director even helped make the blood."
Such is life on the set of a low-budget independent film, where money and crew members run thin, and ingenuity, hard work and high hopes abound.
For the past month and a half, Hoboken roommates Mirabella, 24, Gettinger, 24, and Barry Rosenberg, 23, have been filming their full-length feature, tentatively titled "The Ends Against the Middle," here and at other New Jersey locations.
The film, which is scheduled to wrap up this month, tells the story of what happens after the camera fades to black, and the audience assumes that the hero and damsel live "happily ever after."
The movie opens where many action flicks end, Gettinger said - in a hostage situation at a bar. The hostage scene was recently filmed at the Farside in the mile-square city. Then just minutes into the film, the "hero" had already defeated the bad guys and gotten the girl.
This film asks, "What happens next? What about their first date; their first argument?"
Gettinger said the movie considers whether a relationship that started under such stressful circumstances can actually work out in the end.
A tight budget
The filmmaking trio shared the dream of making a movie since going to Morris Hills High School in Rockaway, from which they graduated in 1997, and the University of Maryland, from which they graduated in 2002.
Mirabella, who manages a gymnastics facility in East Hanover, is the film's screenwriter and director, while Gettinger, who works at a day job in public relations for a record company, produces, and Rosenberg is the first assistant director who has the double duty of handling public relations. During the day, Rosenberg works in the public relations department for a cable television network. Together they have started a production company called Seventh Art Productions, which they hope can be a vehicle to promote future projects.
They have raised around $10,000 to pay for lighting equipment, a camera, and other necessities, but that is where the budget ends and the begging begins.
The actors and crew, many of who attended William Paterson University and worked as assistants for other movies, are all working for free.
"If this was a studio movie, it would cost over $1 million to make," said Gettinger. "We're doing it for just over $10,000."
As the producer, it is Gettinger's job to find locations and handle casting, a task that is immensely more difficult without a budget to pay for locations or actors. "Good thing we have a great script," said Gettinger, who held auditions in his Hoboken apartment, "because for [an actor] to work for free, they must really believe in what we are doing."
He added that finding locations has been another challenge. "Without paying for the locations we are at the owner's mercy," he said. "They can tell us when we can have the space and for how long, which can make for some unusual shooting schedules."
For example, on a recent Tuesday, when they were shooting the critical hostage scene, they only had the bar until the early evening, because the bar had to open for that night's business. So that day they shot from 4 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Also, most of the 50-member crew is volunteering their time, which adds another level of logistical difficulties.
"Let's just say we've had to call in a lot of favors," said Gettinger, "and have had to work a lot of 15-hour days."
According to Mirabella, the goal is to enter the movie into film festivals, such as those in San Francisco and Washington D.C., next year, and turn a profit. Another goal is to get studio backing for some of Mirabella's other projects that are going to cost a lot more money to make.
The movie stars Jason Markarian, 25, who is originally from Worcester, Mass. and currently living in Cambridge. Markarian has held modeling residences in Spain, France, Greece, South Africa, England, Austria, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He has also worked for international designers such as D&G, Alviero Martinez, Giorgio Armani, Moschino, Zengna and Verri, and nationally for Nautica, Fila and Hugo Boss.
Markarian also has appeared inGQ, Rolling Stone Magazine, Details, Gear, Stuff, FHM and in a seven-page fashion editorial in Playboy magazine. He has also appeared in several commercials, including national Heineken and San Miguel beer spots, and Mini Cooper and Ford commercials shot in Spain.
Playing the female lead is Dalilah Freedman, 24, who lives in Worcester and has been acting most of her life. She has appeared in over 20 plays, including roles as Queen Gertrude in Hamlet, Sabina in Skin of Our Teeth and Shelby in Steel Magnolias. Recently Freedman has taken roles at the New England Theatre Company, including her portrayal of Honey in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Bobbi Michele in The Last of the Red Hot Lovers, which she also produced. For more information on the movie and production company, go to www.SeventhArtProductions.com.