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Foss: This is your chance to celebrate local filmmaking

Foss: This is your chance to celebrate local filmmaking

Niskayuna grad is co-director of 'Man Underground,' which will be shown at Proctors
Foss: This is your chance to celebrate local filmmaking
George Basil as Willem and Pamela Fila as Flossie in "Man Underground."
Photographer: Courtesy Millennium Blonde

Not every movie has big-name actors attached to it, or millions of dollars in funding from a Hollywood studio. 

Some films are made for a pittance, with the help of friends and family who want to support the director's idiosyncratic vision. 

"Man Underground," which is screening at Proctors at 7 p.m. Thursday, is just such a film.

Filmed in two weeks by 30-year-old co-directors Michael Borowiec, a Niskayuna High School graduate, and Sam Marine, a native of Poughkeepsie, "Man Underground" was shot in and around the Capital Region — mostly in Greene County, but also in Schoharie County, the city of Schenectady and Galway Lake. 

It's an example of what you might call microbudget filmmaking — independent, self-financed and made for a pittance — in this case, $45,000. 

At a time when the state of New York gives hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks to TV and movie producers every year, it's nice to see that it's possible to make a movie without that kind of support.

These smaller, grassroots filmmaking projects don't always get a lot of attention, which is a shame. Quite often, these microbudget films showcase real talent and ingenuity, and also stand as a testament to the fact that anyone can make a film, if they really, really want to. 

"With enough determination, you can make something," Borowiec told me. 

"Really, anything is possible if you put your mind to it," Marine said. "You need to tailor your goals to your means and resources." 

Sam Marine and Michael Borowiec. (Provided)

"Man Underground" is a sci-fi drama about an alien conspiracy theorist, and it has received positive reviews at film festivals and other screenings.

I'm eager to see it — in part because it's fun to watch movies filmed in and around where you live. I also like supporting local artists, and attending the "Man Underground" screening at Proctors is a way to do so. 

Most of "Man Underground" was shot at a home in East Durham, a hamlet in Greene County, but sharp-eyed viewers might also recognize Riverside Park in Schenectady, a bike path in the Mont Pleasant neighborhood that runs through a tunnel covered with graffiti and the rolling farmland of Schoharie County.

These local settings are the reason Proctors is screening "Man Underground" as part of its two-night "Location! Location! Location!" program, which highlights films made in upstate New York. On Wednesday, the theater will show "The Night We Met," which was shot in Schroon Lake. 

Marine and Borowiec live in Queens, but their filmmaking roots are in upstate New York.

They studied film at SUNY Purchase, and Borowiec credits Niskayuna High School media arts teacher Stephen Honicki with helping him get into the school. In high school, Borowiec made films with fellow students Zach De Sorbo and Logan Olberg; De Sorbo served as composer for "Man Underground," and Olberg was the film's sound mixer. 

"I've shot a few different short films and things upstate and a lot of my writing is set upstate," Borowiec said. "I really do enjoy shooting upstate." 

Marine and Borowiec both work in the film industry — Marine as a freelance producer and Borowiec as a freelance editor. They are also teaching film at SUNY Purchase this fall. 

Both filmmakers will be at Proctors for the screening of "Man Underground." 

Filmmakers Michael Borowiec and Sam Marine on the set of their locally shot film, "Man Underground," which will screen at Proctors. Actor George Basil is in the hard hat. (Provided)

They say the film, which is also available on streaming platforms such as Amazon and is expected to receive a DVD release later this year, has already surpassed their expectations. 

"It's hard to get any smaller film out to a bigger audience," Marine said. 

The best way to address this problem is by supporting smaller films and filmmakers when you have the chance. I like a big-budget comic book movie as much as the next person, but I can see those movies any time. A screening of "Man Underground" is a far rarer event, and it's worth celebrating. 

Reach Gazette columnist Sara Foss at [email protected]. Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper's. Her blog can be found here.

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