MASSENA - Visitors to the 56 Auto Drive-In Theater this weekend will receive a special treat - a third movie that was produced by a Massena native and written and directed by her husband. “Leonard in Slow Motion,” a 10-minute short film produced by Barbara Frary Livolsi and written and directed by Peter Livolsi, will be screened Friday through Sunday evening between showings of “Transformers: Age of Extinction” and “22 Jump Street.”
Ms. Livolsi, a 1997 graduate of Massena Central High School and a 1999 graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with a fashion marketing degree, is the daughter of David and Linda Frary, Massena. She and her husband live in Los Angeles, Calif.
Mr. Livolsi earned a bachelor’s degree in screenwriting from Loyola Marymount University and a master’s degree in directing from the American Film Institute. His AFI thesis short, “Duncan Removed,” won a Student Emmy and screened at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, and Tribeca Film Festival among others.
He also co-directs commercials with friend Martin Dix. As “Peter Martin,” they’ve made spots for FedEx, McDonald’s, HBO and others.
“Barbara and I both came up to Los Angeles about same time in 2001. We both in our own way got into movie and TV production. I began directing commercials while in film school. I do that for a living. In between commercials I write movie scripts. I want to write longer feature films,” Mr. Livolsi said.
For now, the labor of love was “Leonard in Slow Motion,” which was selected to premiere at both the Florida Film Festival and the Palm Springs International ShortFest. It will also be screening in October at the Hamptons International Film Festival.
“I just started submitting it. I’m waiting to hear from a dozen festivals. We’ll wait and see what happens. It’s a great way to share the film with audiences and also people in the industry who keep on eye on those things,” he said.
“It’s been rewarding,” Ms. Livolsi said.
In the film, which features Martin Starr of “Freaks and Geeks,” Knocked Up” and “Silicon Valley,” Leonard exists in slow motion while everyone else goes on with their life at the regular pace.
“Leonard exists in slow motion but lives in a regular speed world. When he discovers his office crush is getting transferred to Florida, Leonard decides he must somehow become regular speed to win her heart before she leaves town for good,” Mr. Livolsi said.
“I liked the idea of (slow motion) being inconvenient for somebody,” he said, noting the story revolves around how it impacts them in their day-to-day life and their work.
The process of creating a first draft script took about two or three months, Mr. Livolsi said.
“There were countless revisions after that for a few months. Barbara and I worked together for a few months with our other producer. The actual shoot itself was shot over three days in Los Angeles,” he said.
What made the process was more complicated was shooting scenes three times - once with Leonard in slow motion, the same scene shot again at regular speed, and a “clean empty shot with no actors in it,” Mr. Livolsi said.
“The effect in slow motion can’t really be achieved in one shot. The effects guys have all the information they need to put three images together,” he said. “The biggest part of the process is after the shoot. You have all the elements you shot and you have to put them all together.”
“It was a year in post-production. Special effects were working on it for a year after we shot it,” Mrs. Livolsi said.
By making the movie, Mr. Livolsi said, he wanted to “create a calling card” that he could show investors and others in the movie business.
Ms. Livolsi said, because her husband loves drive-ins and she recalls the fun she had watching movies at the drive-in while growing up in Massena, she reached out to Jeffrey A. Szot, owner of JS Cinemas, which includes the 56 Auto Drive-In, to see about screening “Leonard in Slow Motion.”
“We always try to go when we come home in the summer. I grew up in Massena and love the drive-in,” she said.
“The drive-in is such a special way to see the film,” Mr. Livolsi said.
Mr. Szot was more than happy to oblige, according to Ms. Livolsi.
“Jeff was very open to it. I sent him the link (to the movie), and he watched it,” she said.
“It’s a fun little short. I think it goes well with the movies we’re playing,” Mr. Szot said.
He said showing it was a simple process now that the drive-in theater has gone digital.
“We download it from a server and have access to it. We download it onto our machine, and we play it. It’s just like Blu-Ray, but a higher quality,” he said.
Digital movies are the name of the game these days, according to Mr. Szot.
“Everything is on digital. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to do it because of the cost involved. But by the end of the year there will be no more film. I was telling people last night, it’s the last time you’ll ever see film. They’re not actually making film any more. Paramount stopped making 35mm prints at Christmas,” he said.
One of the advantages, he said, is that digital provides an even light across the screen.
“With 35mm, there were hot spots on the film that were out of focus around the outer edges. It was miniscule and not distracting,” Mr. Szot said.
Like film, drive-ins are also a dying breed, but some like the 56 Auto Drive-In continue to advance into the digital age to stay relevant in today’s theater world.
“There are about 350 nationally. We’re losing maybe 10 to 15 this year,” he said.
As the drive-in prepares to screen “Leonard in Slow Motion” this weekend, Mr. Livolsi is readying his feature directorial debut of “The House of Tomorrow,” a film he wrote based on Peter Bognanni’s book that won the LA Times Book Award for Best First Novel.
Amazon describes the book this way:
“Sebastian Prendergast lives with his eccentric grandmother in a geodesic dome. His homeschooling has taught him much-but he’s learned little about girls, junk food, or loud, angry music. Then fate casts Sebastian out of the dome, and he finds a different kind of tutor in Jared Whitcomb: a chain-smoking sixteen-year-old heart transplant recipient who teaches him the ways of rebellion. Together they form a punk band and plan to take the local church talent show by storm. But when his grandmother calls him back to the futurist life she has planned for him, he must decide whether to answer the call-or start a future of his own.”
“It’s sort of a movie about somebody who kind of lives in a bubble his whole life,” Mr. Livolsi said. “I just try to get work that I’m excited about. I just think about making the films that I want to make.”