In a homecoming of sorts, John Werner, a Hicksville native, will be showing screenings of his first feature film Rudy Blue at several area film festivals this summer.
John graduated from Hicksville High School in 1978 and had previously attended Woodland Avenue School. He pursued his interest in film at the New York Institute of Technology where he studied film and television production.
In a short interview prior to a screening of the film in New York City, Werner stated that he first became interested in film when he was in grade school.
"I was an AV geek. Back then that is what we called ourselves. Now they are called computer geeks. We were the guys that rolled the projector in when you would see a movie in class."
Since finishing college, Werner has done some short films and written some scripts. Living in New Jersey, he is presently working in television as a writer, producer and director. Ten years ago he formed his own production company, Howl at the Moon Productions. It specializes in commercial and television promos, commercials, and sales programming.
The film focuses on Rudy and his relationships with his family and other people in the years following a tragic accident that killed his father and left his brother with serious injuries. Werner, who wrote and directed the film, described the film as a "fictionalization of things" that he had personally gone through.
He had been involved in an auto accident similar to the one in the movie. He was the driver of a car that was struck by someone who had been drinking and someone in his car was killed. The relationship between the two brothers in the movie is also derived from his own life experiences. He too shared a very close relationship with his brother who died several years ago.
"Though the relationship in the movie is not plot, point driven by my relationship with my brother it certainly is inspired by it," said Werner.
The film has enjoyed critical acclaim since its first screening. It was awarded Best Feature and the People's Choice Award at the 1999 Tahoe International Film Festival.
"It is a real audience pleaser," said Werner. "Audiences are definitely responding to it very well."
Werner stated that he is looking forward to the upcoming film festivals on Long Island and is hopeful his film will be well-received.
"The smaller festivals . . . certainly help to create a little bit of a buzz about the film.There are so many independent films that it is really hard to get people to see your film. It is just a fun way to get people to see your film."
A screening of the film will be held on Saturday, July 17 at 4:30 p.m. at The Long Island International Film Expo at the Malverne Theatre. The following weekend the film will be screened at the Stella Adler Arts Center in Stony Brook as part of the Stony Brook Film Festival. The film's final area screening will take place at the Huntington International Film Festival over the August 20-22 weekend. That festival will be held in the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington.
"Hopefully whatever success we have with this film will help me reach that goal of getting the next one done," said Werner.