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It's a Wrap

Photo courtesy of the Buffalo Niagara Film Commission
It's a Wrap
Feature Film Set in Buffalo Completes Shooting with Local Crew

Those who have been following the emerging film industry in Buffalo are well aware of the major strides that our city has made recently towards becoming an attractive and growing location for film production. As detailed in our last issue’s cover story, ten feature films have been shot in the area over the past year alone, thanks in part to new tax credits, lower production costs, and the high level of production quality offered by local filmmakers. The last film to be shot in Buffalo, the independent production Two for One, marks the directorial debut of actor Jon Abrahams, who also stars in the film and conceived of the project. The production took place throughout August and utilized a crew of entirely local filmmakers, including director of photography Matt Quinn.

Two for One is a comedy-drama that tells the story of a young up-and-coming artist in New York City who has his life and dreams forever altered when the tragic events of 9/11 take the lives of his two best friends and he accepts guardianship of the couple’s two young daughters. Picking up 11 years later, he raises the girls as if they were his own while working as an elementary school teacher. Finding the financial grind of living in New York City too much, he decides to take the girls away from the only place they’ve ever called home and move back to Buffalo where he grew up. From there, the film explores the journey this non-traditional family undergoes as they adjust to their new surroundings and way of life, while trying to find themselves along the way.

The inspiration of Two for One was very personal for Abrahams. “I grew up right next to the Twin Towers and it’s always been a sore spot for me. I was interested in trying to incorporate that into a story, but without it being a story about 9/11,” explained Abrahams. “Also, when Matt [Quinn] had his first daughter he made me the legal guardian of her should anything happen to him and her mother, later that day my cousin called me and said he had done the same thing for his child. Somewhat morbidly I imagined what it would be like for a young man to suddenly have the responsibility of being the guardian of two of their friend’s children. While that scenario has been the subject of many different stories, I thought there haven’t been any films examining a person who’s facing those circumstances 10 years down the line, after they’ve already kind of figured out how to become a parent and are facing new challenges.”

Abrahams was inspired to set his film in Buffalo and shoot on-location in part due to his long-standing friendship with Quinn. “I grew up with Jonny when I had moved to his neighborhood in NYC when we were about nine and we became best friends. I lived there until we were about 16 or 17 and when I moved back to Buffalo he used to come up to visit and he always liked this place,” explains Quinn. “I had made two previous films in Buffalo, one of which Abrahams acted in briefly. When he arrived for the shoot he was really impressed to see the high level of production our team was capable of in Buffalo. Shortly after we began talking seriously about shooting a movie here, which is something he wanted to do as a way to offer opportunities to local filmmakers.”

Quinn is the co-founder of Film Kiln studios, a production studio that offers high resolution media content creation to Western New York, employing the latest in filmmaking technology to offer high quality production values comparable to the best available in cities like New York and Los Angeles. The crew of Two for One was made up largely of videographers and sound technicians as well as others who Quinn had collaborated with previously.

The cast includes many established film and television actors including Erika Christensen (Traffic, Parenthood), Annie Potts (Ghostbusters, Designing Women), Martin Donovan (Insomnia, Weeds), Scott Caan (Ocean’s 11, Hawaii Five-O), Summer Pheonix (sister of Joaquin Pheonix), among others. Many in the cast are good friends with Abrahams and agreed to work for the SAG minimum due to the film’s relatively small budget and out of admiration for his personal vision. Abrahams himself has been acting for over two decades and has over 20 film and TV credits to his name, though Two for One marks his first time directing a feature film.

“I can tell you that it took me 20 years working as an actor before I felt really confident in assuming directing duties, but the experience has been amazing,” says Abrahams. “There has been stress, but it’s been a good kind of stress. It’s a lot of work, along with being an actor and producer, but the creative rush is worth it.”

In particular, Abrahams has been really happy with the experience of filming in Buffalo and the work of the local crew. “Everything has been going better than I could have ever imagined. The crew has been super hard working and versatile and you can sense their passion for what they do on set every day. The city itself has also been wonderful, offering great shooting locations while local business owners have been really friendly and eager to help us.”

Looking forward, Quinn is very excited about what the production of film’s like Two for One means to the future of film in Buffalo. “Not only has this shoot presented local filmmakers with great job opportunities, but the awesome experiences our actors had working here, as well as the finished film itself, will serve to showcase everything Buffalo has to offer to the rest of the film industry and attract more producers to shoot in our city.”

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