Hicksville's own writer, director and producer Elke Blasi.
Hicksville resident Elke Blasi is the writer, director and producer of her first feature film, *69. A resident of Hicksville for most of her life, Blasi decided to keep the film as local as possible. As a result, it was filmed mainly in Nassau County, with a few scenes shot in Pennsylvania. Also, many of the cast and crew are Long Island residents from Hicksville, Westbury and Carle Place.
"It's just amazing to me how many talented people came from Long Island and I know that there are so many other talented people out there," Blasi said. "I loved finding these rare gems and it's great to know that you don't have to go real far to find them."
The "gems" include Hicksville residents Laurie Ann Davis, Blasi's manager and owner of Star Map Acting Studio; as well as Caroline Aimetti, Frank Aimetti, Lori Aimetti, Frank Aimetti, Sr., Taylor Barretta, Brittany Hyde, Adrianna Licitra, Alexandra Licitra, Aviva Licitra, Saverio Pelice Potente and Michael Recchia, In addition Westbury resident Ryan Dobrin and Carle Place residents Danny and Beth Salerno will also star in the film.
Blasi began the casting auditions for *69 in August and September of 2003. "I contacted Laurie Davis of Star Map Acting Studio [in Hicksville] because I heard she was the best," said Blasi, who hired Davis as her manager. "She's not only a coach, but she's also the type of coach who gets her students to work. I contacted her and told her I was having auditions if she could send me some people and she did."
The casting process took about three months and Star Map was one of the locations where casting was held. According to Blasi, "I just wanted to find the right people for the right part and I was very happy with who we chose for it."
Blasi said the film is not-yet-rated, but is aimed at an older audience. She described the movie as "a mystery thriller with horrific elements. It's not like your average teen slasher film. Basically when I created the story I wanted to go a little deeper, something with more substance and a plot." Blasi started writing the screenplay in July of 2003 and it took her a little over a month to complete.
The main characters in the film are people in their 20s. "They start to experience terrible things after they dial *69 one night in response to a prank call and basically there's a mystery to be solved when they find out that it's more than they thought...it wasn't just a prank call," Blasi said. "It has a lot to do with one of the principal players who had previously gotten into an accident and lost her memory. It's all associated with things she can't remember. The closer they get to the truth, worse things happen and there's a whole bunch of twists and turns in the story."
Blasi is still in negotiations with film distributors, but said, "It looks like [*69] will definitely be in theaters. I'm hoping to have the premiere in late October or November. When it will be released in theaters is up to the distributors." She added, "It's such a dream come true knowing that people are interested in your film."
Blasi is proud of her work and the people involved with the film. "I've shown [the cast] the trailer and that was probably the best gift I've ever received," she said. "I watched them the whole time they were watching it and their eyes, they were like kids in a candy story. They were so excited, I almost cried."
It took about 40 days between January 2004 and June 2004 to film *69. According to Blasi, "[making this film] is the most stressful thing I've ever done, but I would do it again tomorrow. At the end of the day I'm going, 'Hey, at least I'm waking up everyday and doing something I love.'"
She is also grateful for the support she has received from her family because she has always been passionate about writing. "Since I was a kid my parents would sit there and want to read everything I've written," Blasi said. "I wish parents understood how important it is to help any child who has a dream, to help guide them because if you don't then you make your kid do something they don't want to do."
Blasi majored in psychology at Nassau Community College because she thought it was a better career move. It has proven helpful to her because she incorporates her knowledge of the subject into her writing. After attending Nassau, however, Blasi went to the New York Film Academy in Manhattan.
"You can't give up something that you're so passionate about. It just consumes you and there's nothing you can do about it," Blasi said. "You have to do it or else you feel like you're going to die." She wants to send out an important message to children: "Find time to work at your passion or else you're dead inside."
She believes in helping other people follow their dreams. Blasi is looking for local musicians to be on the soundtrack of *69. "We already have a couple of people who are great and we're looking for people from Long Island who are very talented who could be a really great part of the soundtrack," Blasi said. "We are all about hooking up our fellow local artists." Blasi even appears on the soundtrack herself because she is also a singer.
Although currently under construction, visit star69movie.com for more information on *69.