Filmmaking Family Affair

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Levittown director teams with daughter for first full-length

When Michael Scully first read director Robert Rodriguez’s memoir Rebel Without a Crew, it inspired the then-43-year-old Levittown resident to give himself until he was 45 to make his first full-length feature film. It took his daughter Michayla to push the concept across the finish line and have the two wind up releasing MONTAUK77, a light drama that stars the father/daughter filmmaking duo and was directed by the elder Scully.

“[Michayla] inspired me to put this whole project together,” the 45-year-old moviemaker said. “I’d been making short films for the past 17 years as pieces of entertainment for weddings, bar mitzvahs and events like that. She really got to me and said she knew I wanted to do a film and I should really give it a shot. She not only inspired me to do it, but she started writing it with me and I didn’t expect that. I knew that she may be in it and we started writing characters close to myself and her, so that we could start acting it out fairly realistically. But for her to jump in and start writing it with me was a real pleasure.”

MONTAUK77 was shot over the course of 14 days with a $30,000 self-described micro-budget. The epitome of guerilla filmmaking, this project was a no-frills production that found this story taking place over the course of 23 locations while relying heavily on the support of the Levittown community. The plot centers around a middle-aged ride share driver that works for the fictional rideshare company Hitch who is reluctantly hired to transport a woman’s remains to Montauk Point. Little does the driver know, he will be asked to form a criminal pact with the deceased’s newly orphaned 15-year-old daughter. While the script was started in June 2019 and completed in October of the same year. a fundraiser slated to be held at Levittown Hall in May 2020 got derailed by COVID-19. Undeterred. Scully and his supporters pivoted and held an online crowdfunding campaign on Indie Go Go back in December. By late March of this year, the shoot began and post production was completed in late August.

During the course of the 14-day shoot, Scully was humbled by the support he received at every turn.
“It was incredible to receive so much love and support for this project from our neighbors and local businesses,” he said. “Adventureland, Ocean Financial Federal Credit Union (Seaford), ½ Off Cards (Wantagh), the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport and the Levittown Public Library allowed our small crew (including Director of Photography Ethan Kornfeld and production assistant Gavin Williams) to shoot during off hours. The generosity from all around was truly remarkable.”

Filmmaker Michael Scully with daughter/collaborator Michayla at a private screening for MONTAUK77 at the Bellmore Playhouse.
(Photo by Justin Flood)

Having already received an overwhelmingly positive reception at a recent screening at the Bellmore Playhouse, the next stop is set to be shown at the upcoming Long Island Film Festival. But for Levittown native Scully, the influence of his community and the support he’s gotten from it were keys in making his dream become a reality.
“Levittown is such a quintessential Americana town that you can’t help but be shaped by it,” he said. “It was wonderful to see all the local businesses in my hometown come together to help this project get on its feet.”

MONTAUK77 was recently accepted into the New York Long Island Film Festival. The film will screen on October 23 at 3 p.m. Visit www.nyliff.com to find tickets for this event.

 

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