Shot partly at John and Judy Ross's Asharoken waterfront home in 2008 and another home on Gilbert Street in the village, the film "3 Backyards" starring Northport native Edie Falco has opened to rave reviews and accolades at film festivals nationwide including Sundance.
In fact, at Sundance, Eric Mendelsohn won the best dramatic director prize for the second time, the first director to do so. His first win was for "Judy Berlin" in 1999 which also starred Falco. (Video interviews with both Falco and Mendelsohn are attached to this article.)
"3 Backyards" is the story of three residents of the same Long Island town over the course of one seemingly perfect autumn day.
Kathryn Erbe, perhaps best known for playing Detective Eames television's on Law and Order: Criminal Intent, also appears in the film.
Mendehlson has gone on the record repeatedly praising Northport and its residents for their generosity, cooperation, good humor and more and said he does not know how he would have made the film without them (us?).
"In general, I am not a big fan of films that require back-stories. I always feel put upon when I know that a film was financed with the sale of the director's internal organs," he said in a release in the film's press kit. "In the case of 3 Backyards, however, it is a sense of indebtedness that compels me to acknowledge the wonderful army of strangers and townspeople who came together in as weird, desperate and ludicrous a manner as any low-budget film that has ever been attempted."
He recounted how, short on funds, they decided to announce our intention to make a film in the town of Northport in the local Pennysaver, and ask for the residents' assistance in doing so.
"The ads stated that we needed everything from production offices, cars and trucks, homes to use as locations, volunteers, actors and extras, right down to a rusty garden shed, nautical-themed knickknacks and a frog in a terrarium," he said.
The first person to call was Artie [Berke], the owner of  on Main Street. He didn't exactly have an office, but if we wanted to use one of his booths "for meetings," we'd be welcome. And so, we had our first production office," Mendelsohn recalled.
Sometimes, he said, the producers made good-natured deals: in exchange for one gentleman's extensive computer and office supplies, we gave him a speaking part in the film.
"More than a few times the offers were generous but absurd. An older man asked if we needed the engine from an outboard motor boat. When we explained it wasn't something required by the script, he yelled "What do I care, I just need someone to fix it!"
But soon the ads became more generous and more serious, he said. "Upscale stores and antique dealers heard about our troubles and began to contribute props and home furnishings. A woman with a thriving medical practice asked if we would like to see some spare offices she had. When we saw the endless warren of rooms, the copier machine, the loading docks and the huge garage space she was offering, we thought she might have mistaken us for a real movie company. Instead, she invited us to stay there rent-free for months. Families opened up their homes to us to do extensive shooting. They smiled and offered plates of dried fruit and Mallomars as we covered their floors in brown paper, shrouded their belongings with plastic drop cloths, and completely ruined their social lives for weeks at a time. An art supply company donated the water colors and brushes that Edie Falco's character uses in the film, a local artist donated the actual artwork she is supposed to be painting, and Edie herself donated her personal car to be used as the location scouting vehicle in pre-production, the prop van during production, and finally as her character's car in the actual movie."
I was lucky enough to have a community —a community noted for its support of the arts — provide them for me. I had no idea when I first placed those ads that what I would be getting back was the involvement of an entire town in the making of a film, a lesson in generosity, and an obligation to repeat that lesson elsewhere in my life."
A local opening night celebration will take place at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington Friday, March 18, with Falco and Mendelsohn.
In Manhattan, the movie will open March 11 at the IFC Center theater.
USA, 2010, 88 min.
Director/Writer: Eric Mendelsohn
Cast:Edie Falco, Elias Koteas, Embeth Davidtz, Kathryn Erbe.