NYFA Instructor’s “Porgies & Bass” Wins Best Short at Coney Island Film Festival

November 1, 2016

porgies and bassNew York Film Academy Filmmaking instructor Thomas Barnes’ latest short film, “Porgies & Bass,” recently won Best Short Film at the Coney Island Film Festival and will be screening at the Big Apple Film Festival, which will take place at the Village East Cinema in Manhattan on Friday, November 4th at 8:30pm.

The film was co produced by NYFA instructor Richard D’Angelo, and the crew featured numerous NYFA alumni and teacher’s assistants.

The story surrounds Ben, a native fisherman on Long Island, New York, fishing for the prized large striped bass. Meanwhile, Jorge, a Latino immigrant catches porgies, a more common and smaller size fish. What starts out as a beautiful day on the beach turns into a skirmish over territory, and finally erupts in an unforgettable manner.

We had a chance to speak with the director and NYFA instructor, Thomas Barnes, before his upcoming screening at the Big Apple Film Festival.

What are some of the themes we can take from your film?

With all the talk of building walls to keep people out and fears of outsiders stoked by politicians, this film explores social and racial tensions via a tense fishing story. Hopefully, the film transcends political sloganeering to get to a more complex view of people and their struggles to coexist.

Thomas Barnes
Thomas Barnes directing his actor on the set of “Porgies and Bass.”

How did this film come about? 

The story was devised after several years of fishing on beaches in Long Island, meeting men like the characters in the story, and imagining what would happen in a tense conflict between them. With script in hand in summer 2015, I invited NYFA instructor Richard D’Angelo to come on board as he is an experienced Long Island producer where the film was to be shot.

I raised the money for production privately and then successfully crowd-sourced the funds for post production via Indiegogo.

What was the most challenging aspect of the production?

The changing weather, tides, ocean conditions and light were all challenges. Shooting totally out of sequence and keeping on top of continuity was a headache.

Also, working in the water with actors, props and camera made for some very tricky set-ups.

porgies and bass

Can you tell me the students and alumni involved with the production? 

Co- Producer Richard D’Angelo helped to hire the following alumni:

  • Production Designer: Roxy Martinez
  • Associate Producer: Jolene Mendes
  • Assistant Director: Attapol Worrawuttaweekul
  • Production Coordinator: Francesca Morello
  • Key Grip: Mateo Salcedo Cancino
  • Gaffer: Miguel Garzon Martinez
  • Editor: Ross Vedder – works with NYFA Editing Dept. I met him through NYFA instructor Lanre Olabisi.

What do you hope to achieve with this film and its screening at the Big Apple Film Festival?

It’s a competitive awards festival, so I hope to earn the votes of our supporters in the audience!

Are there any other screenings or festivals coming up where we can see the film?

To be confirmed. It just screened at Woodstock Film Festival last week.