The Music  



Valley Cottage Man Shoots

First Feature-Length Film

(Original Publication: May 16, 2007)

Actors Mercedes Kent, left, Big Jim Wheeler of Nyack and Paul Borghese of Tappan discuss the logistics of a scene they are about to shoot Monday in Piermont for the independent movie Delilah Rose. The romantic comedy is being directed by Ric Pantale, who is the owner of Piermont Pictures Video, a celebrated village shop.

PIERMONT — With a script in hand, Ric Pantale stood next to two actors on the grounds of the village's castle and went through some dialogue.

The actors, Jim Wheeler and Paul Borghese, exchanged a few ideas with the Valley Cottage man, moments before cameras were set to roll.

As the men spoke, crew members buzzed around; some set up a camera while another applied make-up to the actors. Producers, not far from the action, went over the day's filming schedule.

It was a traditional movie shoot, not unlike so many that have taken place in this waterfront village. But in some ways, it was a bit more special.

"I was always attracted to movies," Pantale said earlier this week on the set. "I always wrote screenplays. It was my dream to be a director." Pantale has accomplished that dream; he's directing his first feature-length film.

Called Delilah Rose, the film is a dark comedy loosely based on the 1968 film, Pretty Poison. Its setting is a fictitious place called Austin Falls, and for the past four weeks Pantale has filmed in Rockland - in places like the Castle in Piermont, the former Udelco site in Orangeburg and Cafe Portofino, among some others.

It is scheduled to be released in the fall with a premier at Riverspace Arts in Nyack, said Nicole Dimant, a producer and location scout.

Many of his cast and crew are local, too. The actors, producers, crew and make-up artist all live or work in the area. Many have donated their time and services to help Pantale make this film.

Although it's Pantale's first full length feature - he's done some short films - he's no novice.

His mother was an actress, and he appeared in some films and shows as a child including "Abbot and Costello" and "Winchester 73," he said.

In the mid 1960s, he was accepted to the prestigious Actor's Studio, but that came shortly after he joined the U.S. Army, which put his film career on hold. An injury to his hand and family obligations made acting a bit of a challenge, he said.

Cinema remained a big part of his life, though.

Almost two decades ago, Pantale started Piermont Pictures Video, a well-known store that he opened in an old garage on the waterfront; it's an homage to the silver screen and attracted film buffs and professionals from all over the Lower Hudson Valley looking for rare or hard-to-find flicks. It was even rated by Variety Magazine.

Pantale's also on the creative advisory board of the Rivertown Film Society.

Because of his reputation and knowledge of film, many professional actors and filmmakers joined Pantale in his independent odyssey.

That was evident on the set this week as a handful of crewmembers pulled off their own version of guerrilla filmmaking.

Dimant said his reputation and sense of humor attracted people to the estimated $100,000 project that would have cost more than $1 million without all the in-kind help.

"He's an unbelievable person," Dimant said. "He has the best video store. ... He's very funny and he's very smart."

Jonathan Bell, a director of photography for PBS's Edens Lost & Found documentary series and several HBO projects among many others, said Pantale's film was a rare opportunity.

"I thought it would be fun to shoot," Bell, who lives in Grand View, said moments after connecting a camera to a car door for a mobile shoot. "It's an opportunity to shoot a feature outside my front door."

Mercedes Kent, also of Grand View, is playing the lead role of Delilah Rose. She managed Pantale's video store and worked with him on a weekly radio show about film, she said.

Juliet Stewart of Nyack has an international resume of clients. She volunteered to do the make-up. "It's local and it's helping local businesses," she said.

Paul Borghese, an actor who has appeared in Trans America, "Law and Order" and played the role of Yogi Berra in Billy Crystal's 61, said although there are certain challenges to shooting a lower budget independent film, Pantale is resourceful and exudes confidence.

"As a first-time director, he seems to be very calm. He rolls with the punches," Borghese, who splits his time between Manhattan and Tappan, said. "To be able to shoot locally, it makes it that much more special."


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