Shrewsbury filmmaker prepares for festival circuit
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Bob Heske of Shrewsbury co-wrote short films that have earned awards at festivals, most notably “Waiting” starring Emmy Award winner Richard Schiff for NBC-TV's “The West Wing.” Most recently, Heske produced and wrote a full-length feature, “Blessid,” shot mostly in Shrewsbury. While the film is undergoing final editing, it got a sneak-peek screening for the cast and crew Feb. 21 at Studio 22 in the Boroughs Family Branch YMCA in Westborough.
“We got very strong feedback at the screening,” Heske said. “Everybody was extremely excited about submitting it to the film festivals. People were surprised that it looks like an indie film that was made for a lot more money.”
Heske expects the budget to increase before the film is released.
“This was going to be an $80,000 film,” he noted. “It's probably going to end up being about $130,000 to $140,000 when all is said and done.”
Some cast members were unable to attend the screening because of prior commitments, including Northborough native Chris DiVecchio, who now lives and works mostly in Los Angeles. His parents attended the local screening.
“His parents, Paul and Anna DiVecchio, saw it,” Heske said. “It was great to look over and see their expressions as their son was on the screen.”
The trailer of “Blessid” publicly debuted the following evening at this year's New England Music Awards at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium. Nominated for Song of the Year was “Shiver” sung by Sarah Blacker, which plays over the final credits of “Blessid.” Joining Heske at the ceremony to present the award for Producer of the Year were Rob Fitz, director; Rachel Kerbs, lead actress; and Rick Montgomery Jr., lead actor.
“We loved the music and we appreciated being there,” Heske said.
“Blessid” tells the story of the bonding between two neighbors: a 2,000-year-old immortal man and a depressed pregnant woman.
“The dynamic of the movie is that you have this guy who has lived forever and has overcome everything, and he meets this young woman who is about to be a mother and can barely survive each day,” Heske explained. “What does he have to teach her? Why does he show up when he does? And what is his connection to her?”
Heske scouted Shrewsbury neighborhoods for exterior shots of the main characters” homes.
“We had to find two locations literally across the street,” he noted. “So we had to go up and knock on doors. One house would say yes and then the other one across the street would say no. But we ended up finding two locations on Eaton Place, off Walnut Street.”
Some filming was done in early November 2012, coinciding with Hurricane Sandy and snowfall in the area. That week, a scene was scheduled to shoot at Mountain View Cemetery. The script called for the scene to take place in a different community and a later point in time, so the snow didn's cause a continuity issue.
“It was actually gratuitous that there was snow on the ground,” Heske said.
Heske's home on Floral Street was used as a location, as well as the film's command central.
“Imagine having a house with two little girls and a wife, and add crew members plus the cast,” Heske said. “Every room in my house was taken over for 12 working hours a day.”
The next step will be the film festivals before a formal premiere in a theater somewhere in Massachusetts.
“We'sl submit it to film festivals locally, across the country and internationally as well,” Heske said.
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