By Mia Summerson
Niagara Gazette — The Niagara region will once again serve as the backdrop to the work of local filmmaker Ken Cosentino of Little Sicily Productions, whose last film entitled “Crimson: The Motion Picture” was released in stores in March.
"Crimson" received a decent amount of exposure after magazines such as Fangoria and Sci-Fi published articles about that movie. Cosentino says he’s unsure if this is what eventually led to the movie being picked up by a distributor.
“I mean it’s possible,” he said. “Sci-Fi said they have sixty-five million readers.”
Pop Cinema, a distribution company picked up the movie and has since made it available online through several major retailers such as Best Buy, F.Y.E., and outside the Western New York area. Locally, "Crimson" has been made available at Alchemy on Buffalo Avenue.
With encouragement from the success of "Crimson," Cosentino is now moving on to his next film titled “Within,” the script for which was written by Jon Ferrari, who is also producing the film.
Cosentino, whose Little Sicily Productions is based in the Falls, said he learned a few things from directing "Crimson" by the time he got started on his second movie.
“I’ve learned how to direct a large group of people, sometimes there’s up to thirty people on set,” he said. “I also learned how to direct action. It’s pretty difficult to shoot action and make it believable and there’s a lot of action in this movie.”
While the genre of "Crimson" was a mobster meets comic book hero sort of theme, “Within” will be playing into the recent spike in popularity of the zombie flicks.
“I’d hate to describe it as just another zombie movie,” said Tyler Austin, the film’s star. “I was drawn to the movie because it's more about these five people whose lives have been connected somehow and they share a house during the zombie apocalypse.”
Austin got the role after seeing an ad on Craig's List online saying that the movie needed actors. He got an audition and was eventually awarded the part of Albert, the main character who is a young, gay man struggling with his father’s disapproval.
“It’s breaking stereotypes,” he said. “Since you never really see gay men in the horror genre.”
After filming for the past two months, the production phase of “Within” came to a close recently after filming the climactic scene on a farm in Ransomville, and the movie’s opening scene at the Sunshine Café on Buffalo Avenue.
“We like to keep (filming) in Niagara Falls,” Cosentino said of why he chose Sunshine Cafe. “There’s going to be a lot of people in this restaurant.
“There’s going to be a lot of foreshadowing as to the zombie apocalypse because some of the zombies from later in the film will be patrons in the restaurant.”
So far no footage from the movie has been released to the public. When the Facebook fan page for “Within” reaches 1,000 fans, the trailer will be released.
The moviemakers plan to check with film festivals before premiering the movie themselves because festivals often want to show the movie first. After that, Cosentino said there will absolutely be a local premier, likely next year.
“Other than horror movie festivals we’re also going to be targeting LGTB festivals,” he said. He also added that a couple distributors have shown interest in picking up “Within,” including Pop Cinema.
“I never really planned on shooting a feature film in the zombie genre, but I guess it was kind of inevitable,” Cosentino said. “It’s a lot of fun, there’s a lot of special effects and make up and people running around as zombies.
“It’s a blast I get to work with a lot of good talented people, it’s doing what I love, locally. It’s been a good experience.”
“It’s very much for people who know their zombie movies,” said Austin. “But it’s for people who want to see something different. You don’t even necessarily have to like zombie movies to like ‘Within.'”