As film lovers packed the Staller Center at Stony Brook University last weekend for the Stony Brook Film Festival, one movie had a bit of local flavor.
“Dean Darling,” which had its world premiere at the festival July 21, was partially filmed in Smithtown and features an actress who grew up in Setauket, Allison Frasca, who plays the character Jaclyn. Alan Inkles, director of the Staller Center, said Calogero Carucci, who wrote and directed the film, created a beautiful piece where one of the strengths was the director’s choice of actors.
“As the protagonist, she enters the film and brings a powerful energy that complements the very subtle performance of Douglas Towers, the male lead.”
— Alan Inkles
“All of the cast were terrific, but without a doubt, Allison’s work was the real glue to keeping the film together,” Inkles said. “As the protagonist, she enters the film and brings a powerful energy that complements the very subtle performance of Douglas Towers, the male lead.”
Frasca said “Dean Darling” centers around a 20-year-old who, after his two parents die in a car accident, searches for answers through relationships and filmmaking. She said Jaclyn is a free spirit who is a breath of fresh air in main character Dean’s life, and when he meets her, he sees the potential to find happiness in the future.
The actress said she was impressed with Carucci’s work, which is influenced by new age French cinema, and she found the film’s visuals to be beautiful. During auditions and callbacks, she discovered filming would
occur in Smithtown, and Frasca said she was thrilled to have the opportunity to film in a town she remembered from her childhood.
Her parents were in attendance for the screening, and her father Anthony said it was the first time he saw his daughter’s work on the big screen, and he and his wife Andrea were proud of her.
“It was really kind of riveting seeing her on the big screen because she’s just so charismatic,” he said.
The father said in addition to his daughter’s acting, he thought all the actors were talented and he enjoyed the storyline.
“I thought that the message of the film — the importance of family and friendship — was uplifting,” he said.
Frasca, who now lives in Manhattan where she performs in stage productions and films, is currently working in the Off-Broadway play “Wicked Frozen.” She said she was honored to be in the film festival that takes place just a few miles from where she grew up and were she visits her parents and two brothers, Andrew and Alex, frequently. It was while growing up in the village and attending The Laurel Hill School in East Setauket that she developed a love for acting and also what goes on behind the scenes.
The actress said she remembered an eighth-grade production of “West Side Story” where there was trouble with the construction of the set. She decided to do something about it and brought crepe paper and paint home to create the scenery herself. Frasca said every time auditions were posted for a school play, she would go straight to her computer to research the story and characters. Her love for performing continued through her years at St. Anthony’s High School in Melville, and she majored in theater at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Frasca said she has a lot of fond memories of driving around the back roads of the Three Village area exploring with her brothers and cousins, and visiting West Meadow Beach to walk down Trustees Road and fish with her father.
She said due to her love of local history, she chose Setauket Presbyterian Church to film a comedy she wrote and produced, “Which Witch is Which.” And one summer, she and her cousin Matthew Colucci visited the Three Village Historical Society to pick up maps to help them stake out every historic sign in the area.
“Every time someone comes to visit I’m like, ‘And here is the site of the Battle of Setauket,’” she said, adding she calls herself a history nerd.
Frasca said her dream role is to play Anna Strong, a member of the Culper Spy Ring who would send signals to a courier by hanging garments in a specific formation on her clothesline in Strong’s Neck.
“It’s a bravery that doesn’t get put to the test anymore, thank goodness,” she said.
Until her dream role comes around, Frasca said she will revel in the joy of being part of the Stony Brook Film Festival as she returns to reality in the city.
“It was amazing being part of the festival,” she said. “I remember walking into the Staller Center to watch Bernadette Peters or ‘The Nutcracker’ when I was young so it was surreal walking into that theater and seeing myself on that enormous screen.”