As the story goes, Michael Scully graduated from Binghamton University with a degree in film and a dream. He started up his one-man production house had every intention of entering the world of short films and landing in the world of indie features.
Then, life got in the way. The dream gave way to reality and he found himself gaining a positive reputation working in the world of shorts, music videos, and other video projects alongside cinematographer Ethan Kornfeld.
After nearly 15 years, the dream was clearly on the back burner.
However, upon arriving in his fourth decade and after a conversation with his then 12-year-old daughter and soon to be co-star, the fire started burning again. It was, in essence that daughter, Michayla, who lit the fuse and became the music for Scully's journey toward making his first feature film, Montauk77. It's a film that he ended up writing with Michayla and a film in which the two of them co-star. After a successful festival run, Montauk77 has landed a digital distribution deal with indie distributor Gravitas Ventures and is also looking at a limited theatrical release in Long Island theaters before the film hits digital on August 30th.
Michael's dream has come to life. Mission accomplished.
Montauk77 centers around a down-on-his luck rideshare driver, Harry (Michael Scully), who is asked by a newly orphaned 15-year-old girl, Liz (Michayla Scully), to transport her and the cremains of her recently deceased mother to the beach at Montauk Point.
He reluctantly agrees.
Before long, it's apparent that Liz has a little bit more on her mind than simply handling her mother's ashes and she's soon working to recruit Harry for a bit of an unusual heist.
Montauk77 is the acting debut for both Michael and Michayla, a fact that both hinders and helps the film along the way. There's something incredibly endearing about the natural chemistry between this real-life father/daughter and how they bring these characters to life. While there are fleeting moments where neither one can quite register the emotional resonance that would seriously sell a scene, more often than not there's such a natural, honest chemistry between the two that you can't help but go along with wherever they want to take you.
They pulled me in early and never let me go.
Montauk77 also benefits greatly from the presence of Kornfeld along with Gavin Williams for cinematography. The film is beautifully shot and beautifully captures the Montauk Point locale where it was shot including a magnificent shot of the Montauk Point Lighthouse.
By the way, I really want to visit the Lighthouse Diner.
Montauk77 is the kind of film you can't help but enjoy. Perfect? No, not really. However, film isn't always about cinematic perfection. Sometimes, it's about how we weave together a tapestry of perfect moments and little flaws and we learn how to embrace it all. I can't help but think that sometimes it's the flaws that make a film better because they end up creating something resembling real life.
Amidst everything that unfolds here, something resembling real life happens.
With humor and heart and relentless spirit, Montauk77 is exactly what the independent spirit of cinema is supposed to be.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic