By DANIEL A. KITTREDGE
The story may involve a trip around the world, but for many of the cast and crew, the shooting of the indie movie “Poor Paul” was a celebration of the house.
“I don’t have to be anywhere else… All I need is between the W’s, Westerly and Woonsocket,” said Stephen O’Neil Martin of Cranston, who plays Leonardo.
Many other familiar local faces take part in the production, which took place at the Sprague Mansion on Cranston Street for four days starting last Thursday.
Among them are the accomplished Sissy O’Hara, who has dozens of credits both behind and in front of the camera, and comedian Brian Vincent.
Then there’s Adam Carbone, probably familiar to many Cranstonians from his 2020 mayoral campaign – a run that saw him arrive at a debate dressed in a hot dog costume, while trumpeting his plans for a new “Party Bagel & Cream Cheese”. He co-wrote “Poor Paul” with the film’s director, Sean Michael Beyer, and plays the main character.
Carbone’s brother David is one of the producers of the film. Rhode Island-born Courtney Danforth makes her debut as Lucia.
Kristen Falso-Capaldi, artist, author and filmmaker who teaches in Cranston Public Schools, is the production designer for the film.
A number of veteran artists from the world of film and television join the talents of Rhode Island. Richard Riehle, whose hundreds of credits range from “Glory” to “Grounded for Life”, plays Grandpa Paul, the namesake of the Carbon character. Others include Michael Emery, Abhi Sinda, and Nick Pasqual.
“Poor Paul” has been prepared for years. The screenplay is from 2012 and the pre-production work has been going on for about a year.
This is the latest collaboration between Carbone and Beyer, who respectively played and directed “Randy’s Canvas” in 2018. This film, which tells the story of a young artist with autism, was also shot in Rhode Island, and many of the same cast and crew returned for the last production.
As Carbone says: “We try to keep our core team. “
Beyer describes “Poor Paul,” which is based on a 2008-11 web series of the same name, as a “romantic comedy adventure”. Carbone, as Paul, plays an “eccentric gentleman” who inherits 500,000 miles of frequent flying from his late mother.
Paul decides to use the miles to take his roommates on a journey around the world. When they stop in Italy, however, their journey is derailed by the “mad” character of Martin, who kidnaps the group. His project ? To marry his daughter, played by Danforth, to Paul de Carbone, an American.
“But things are not going as planned,” Beyer said. This is because Paul, when stressed, “gets into heroic fantasies where he saves the day.”
“This is Captain Kirk from ‘Star Trek’, he climbed Mount Everest in an hour, this is Don Paul, like in Don Corleone,” Beyer added. “Just a lot of fun stuff. It’s very exaggerated … Kind of like “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off”, where we sometimes talk to the camera.
Beyer, from California, said returning to Ocean State for “Poor Paul” was a natural fit. He praised Steven Feinberg and Carol Conley of the Rhode Island Film & TV Office, calling them “great to work with and very helpful.”
“I love shooting in Rhode Island… Rhode Island is so good for movies,” he said.
Even more, the diversity of the locations of the State – all in the immediate vicinity – corresponds perfectly to the needs of “poor Paul”. After all, the script calls for a journey that spans multiple continents.
“We pretend all over the world here in Rhode Island – Iraq, Italy, Germany, France, England and Rhode Island… It’s a great place to shoot,” Beyer said.
Carbone said other destinations and attractions to be used in production include the sand dunes of East Greenwich, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in the same town, Providence’s Café Nuovo, the Venetian gondolas in the heart of the capital, Newport Vineyards and Battleship. Cove near Fall River.
The Sprague Mansion was also chosen as one of the filming locations, at Carbone’s suggestion. During visits to the set Friday and Saturday, an indoor dining scene and an outdoor wedding – with a vintage car – were filmed.
Meanwhile, in the mansion’s shed, a set has been created for a scene that is supposed to take place in Iraq. This isn’t the first time the shed has been used in this way – for 2016’s “Bleed for This”, a biopic about Vinny Paz from Cranston, it was the location of a mock theater room. boxing.
“We’re really trying to sell what we’ve been on to the world,” Carbone said. “It’s difficult, it’s ambitious… This whole project is ambitious, but we are having a lot of fun and achieving what we set out for ourselves so far.”
“Poor Paul” is produced by Silverwind Films. Midwest-based executive producers Tania and Bradley Burt echoed Beyer in terms of Rhode Island appeal.
“One of the reasons we came here is because there is so much talent here… and there are a lot of great historic places we can shoot in,” Tania said, adding: ” We’re thinking of developing a few more feature films here. “
She continued, “We love it. If we didn’t have our grandchildren in the Midwest, we really could [move here]. “
Bradley praised the cast and production crew, noting the benefits – both financial and intangible – of using local artists and film workers.
“They know each other. There’s a lot of camaraderie… It’s just a fun bunch to do that,” he said.
Carbone said the plan is for post-production to begin “right after we finish filming” and “Poor Paul” is due out in the spring of 2022. Tania said the film will be distributed worldwide, although one company has not yet done so. been chosen as producers explore their options.
“It’s a very, very funny storyline, and we’re thrilled… We have high hopes for the product,” she said. “We think it’s going to be really successful.”
Tania and Bradley both spoke enthusiastically about Sprague Mansion and its resident caretakers, Mary and Gregg Mierka, for hosting the production.
This is the historic house’s last contact with the entertainment industry. The mansion has been the site of other film shoots over the years, and Gregg – who was fortunate enough to play a small role in “Poor Paul” – has several movie and TV credits, including “Gettysburg”.
For the cast members of “Poor Paul”, the shooting of the film was a kind of reunion – a chance to reconnect with others who have found a home in the entertainment business, even in some cases without being based in the entertainment industry. southern California.
Martin, who began performing in 1972, toured early in his career before starting a family. He spent 30 years working for the state, but during that time, “I stayed with the company. Also a writer, he first met Carbone when the two played the roles of father and son in a short film he had written.
“It’s a different world now,” he said. “You don’t have to live in Los Angeles to work.
Riehle, who was also on “Randy’s Canvas,” said he had family in the Providence area and visited them periodically.
“It was nice to come back… It’s fun to be back with a lot of the same people for another crazy adventure,” he said.
Riehle – whose credits include many movies and comedy shows, including Office Space ”- specifically praised Carbon. The two shared a laugh as they discussed Carbone’s run for mayor.
In “Poor Paul,” said Riehle, Granda Paul’s goal is “to try to prevent [Carbone’s character] to have more trouble.
“It’s definitely a tall order,” he added with a smile.
Sinda and Pasqual, childhood friends from Pittsburgh, both expressed their excitement about being a part of “Poor Paul”.
“This film is really, really ambitious. But when you’re going to make a movie and do something creative and have goals, you want them to be lofty and ambitious, ”Sinda said. “Adam and Sean definitely set the bar really high for this.”
Pasqual, who is one of the producers and helped with the pre-production work, said it was “very surreal to finally film here after so many months of preparation.”
“So far it’s been a blast,” he said. “You see an independent film and you realize it almost feels like a miracle when it all falls into place, you know? We really have a fantastic group of people.
“Everyone,” Sinda added, “feels lucky to be here.”