Residents commend local thriller film ‘Distiller’

Residents commend local thriller film ‘Distiller’

Erin Schroeder, co-producer of “Distiller,” left, poses with her husband, Andy Schroeder, after the film’s Long Island premiere screening. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Milk doesn’t just build strong bones, it also builds strong ghosts — at least in “Distiller.” During the Long Island premiere screening of H.A.M. Studio’s “Distiller,” on Jan. 8 on the lower level of the Emma S. Clark Library in Setauket, residents saw these ghosts wreak havoc in the film. This followed the world premiere on Jan. 2 at the Proctor Theatre in New York City.

Despite the smaller venue, director, co-writer and co-producer Andy Schroeder of Port Jefferson Station, said he can breathe a little easier. “It’s a huge weight off my shoulders,” Andy said after the screening on Friday. “Now [my wife and I] could just enjoy getting to see audience members enjoy it.”

Andy’s wife Erin co-produced the film, which features scenes shot in Port Jefferson and at the Emma S. Clark Library. The film highlights ghost hunter Matthew Moon, who captures ghosts in liquor bottles until his mysterious disappearance. Twenty years later, Moon’s niece, Blue, inherits her uncle’s belongings only to get a ghoulish surprise once she opens the bottles.

“It had elements of a lot of different movies,” Mark Rothenberg said after seeing the film.  “They put [the scenes] together nicely and it had a lot of [scenes] from the area. It was good to see Long Island getting some recognition.”

Rothenberg’s wife, Carolyn Emerson, a reference librarian at the library, added that the antiquity of the library added to the ambiance of the film, especially considering the history of the library. According to Emerson, before the library was established, the property housed a general store that sold coffins.

Rothenberg and Emerson weren’t the only ones to like the film and its “old-school” graphics. Mike O’Connor and Michelle Tommaso of Smithtown also enjoyed the film’s special effects.

“All of the creatures, they were fantastic,” Tommaso said about the film’s ghosts. “It was really depressing when they tore open the little teddy bear and crawled inside of it, but it was also terrifying and really wacky how everything was moving.”

In the film, a freed ghost tailors Blue Moon’s old stuffed teddy bear and wears it as a costume to get around Moon’s home. The ghost, like others in the film, was a puppet designed for the film. The Schroeders stuck to tangible props like puppets to make the film more authentic. Andy also said this old school approach is more appealing for its authenticity and for the actors — the actors can use the real props to help further their performance on screen.

Andy started writing the script in 2012 with writing partner Steve Sacco. The cast and crew started filming in 2012. The film wasn’t the only project the Schroeders were working on. They also created posters and small comic strips for the film’s premiere screenings this month. Residents who attended the premiere could take a poster and some comics after the film ended.

While Andy has no plans for a sequel, he said he intends to produce more films in the future. “All our ideas are sort of similar … not the ideas for the story, but the tone,” he said. “We want to do something that’s sort of for everybody.”

Residents who couldn’t make the premiere screenings can purchase the film on iTunes and Amazon Prime for $12.99 and on Google Play for $9.99. They can also rent it on Google Play for $3.99.