7/27/2012 1:00:00 AM 'Broadway's Finest': Local man has ties to featured movie at Prescott Film Festival
Courtesy photo/Nicole Briones “Broadway’s Finest,” one of the movies that will screen at next week’s Prescott Film Festival, has made previous showings at a number of other film festivals across the country. Pictured from left are the film’s writer-director Stephen Marro, one of its actors, Chris Kerson, and its executive director Kevin Lane, at last week’s Long Island International Film Expo.
For a movie fan like Kevin Lane, a chance encounter at a 2007 elementary school reunion offered up a dream scenario.
After years of working in the financial field in Arizona, Lane traveled back to his hometown of Long Beach on Long Island, N.Y. five years ago to attend a 50th anniversary of his elementary school.
There, the Prescott resident ran into an old friend, Stephen Marro, who had spent decades working in the film industry. Although much of Marro's work to date had been in commercials, he had a dream of his own: to make a feature film based on a screenplay he had written.
The two friends - both mid-1970s graduates of the same Long Island high school - got to talking, and the movie idea came up.
Lane was intrigued and read the screenplay. "I thought it was very interesting and unusual," he said, describing it as "comedy, drama, and action" in one fast-paced story.
Soon, a business partnership emerged between the two old friends - with Lane acting as executive producer, and Marro serving as director and writer of the independent film, "Broadway's Finest."
The movie is one of 85 films that will screen at next week's Prescott Film Festival. Lane and Marro plan to be on hand afterwards to answer questions from the audience.
Lane explained that as executive producer, he helped with the financing for the movie, but had little to do with the production.
Even so, it was obvious this past week that he was pleased with the end result, as he chuckled through the movie trailer.
"It is a well-done movie on a lot of counts," Lane said.
The premise is outrageous, funny, and somehow plausible all at once. "It's about three guys who impersonate cops to get authentic research," Lane said.
The plot summary describes the movie as featuring three struggling men, who decide to go "under cover" as New York City policemen to get material for a police drama, and end up encountering a notorious drug dealer.
"We don't need a writer; we'll do it ourselves," one of the characters says in the movie's trailer.
The trailer hints at the ensuing predicaments, as the characters get in deeper and deeper.
"We're in over our heads," one acknowledges. Another responds: "Is there any other way? If we're not in over our heads, we're not really in at all."
In a telephone interview, Marro said he drew heavily from his own experiences in writing the screenplay.
"In a lot of ways, the three characters represent different experiences in my life," he said, adding that the movie begs the question, "How far will you go to attain what you really want in life?"
Prior to the production of "Broadway's Finest," Marro had done a short movie - "The Quality of Mercy" - that was based on a similar plot. Featuring actress Mary-Louise Parker, the short ended up earning several awards, and Marro decided to proceed with his feature film.
"It's been 10 years," he said of the evolution of the movie. "It seems like it's the child who never wants to leave home."
"Broadway's Finest" also has caught the imagination of audiences at film festivals across the country. Lane points out that the movie has received about 10 awards so far, including "best picture" at The Hills Film Festival in Connecticut, and four individual awards, including an audience-favorite award, at the recent Long Island International Film Expo.
In fact, it was the chatter from various film festivals that caught the attention of Helen Stephenson, the executive director of the Prescott Film Festival. As she was scanning movies for this year's local festival, Stephenson said she came across "Broadway's Finest," and tried unsuccessfully to reach the producers. Later, Lane contacted her and told her of the local connection. The Prescott Film Festival organizers liked the movie and included it in their lineup.
Lane and Marro say they are pleasantly surprised by the audiences' responses. "It has had tremendous appeal across all age brackets," Marro said. "As a filmmaker, that's what you want."
The Prescott Film Festival will include two showings of "Broadway's Finest" - at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 2, at the SNW Community Room at Yavapai College; and at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3, at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center, 1100 E. Sheldon St.