Grief and loss shaped young filmmaker’s picture

By Jianni Burnett
The Scholars’ Academy

and Manoli Figetakis
Francis Lewis High School

Calogero Carucci’s first movie was shot on a shoestring budget in just 13 days. Carucci, then 20 years old, was able to produce the full-length movie for $20,000, along with the help of family members and friends pitching in and helping with roles. The movie, “Dean Darling,” will be shown at the Stony Brook Film Festival this weekend.

“I don’t have a big production company backing me,” said Carucci, now 22, of Smithtown. “I ended up funding a lot of it myself.”

The motivation for his work is the excitement he experiences in seeing new audiences’ reactions in the theater, he said.

“Dean Darling” is about a young man’s grief over the death of his parents in a car crash. Carucci’s original idea came from a dream he had about his own parents dying in a car accident. He shares that the lead character is a reflection of his own personality. In the film, Dean, the main character, finds that Franco, his best friend and filmmaking partner, helps him to face his fears about having to live without his parents.

Calogero Carucci, writer and director of “Dean Darling” premiering July 21 at the Stony Brook Film Festival. (Photo By Parker Schug)

Stony Brook Film Festival director Alan Inkles praised the film. He said, “It’s a great film from Long Island, not a Long Island film.”

Carucci directed and produced the film in the summer between his junior and senior years of college.

“Cinema is a large part of my life and who I am,” he said, “so it’s not so ironic that Dean and his best friend Franco are aspiring filmmakers.”

Carucci recruited several famous actors including Allison Frasca, Douglas Towers and Joel Widman. Like Carucci, Towers is from Smithtown, and Frasca is from nearby Setauket. The funding for the movie came from three sources: scholarship money and his personal savings, according to a press release, and a Kickstarter page.

Carucci studied finance at Baruch, with a double minor film and English, and today he works at Bloomberg Finance.

Taking inspiration from filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and French directors of the New Wave era, including Jean Luc-Godard, François Truffaut, and Agnès Varda, Carucci is already thinking about his next project. His upcoming film, Moving in 2008, is about a family’s financial struggles during the economic recession of that year and how it affects their lives.

He sees a bright future for himself. “Sometimes I ask myself … should I just succumb to the 8-to-5, the 9-to-5 lifestyle,” he said, “and the answer is no and I keep telling myself, ‘No!”

Carucci’s production, “Dean Darling,” is being shown at Stony Brook University on Saturday, July 21, 2018, at 4:00 p.m. It is part of the nine-day Stony Brook Film Festival at the Staller Center for the Arts, which includes 16 short films and 20 feature films.

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