There’s no genie in the Distiller’s bottles — only ghosts. The community can catch a glimpse of these ghosts in H.A.M. Studio’s spooky film “Distiller” at a free Long Island premiere screening at Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in Setauket this Friday evening.
Filmed partially on Long Island, “Distiller” includes scenes shot locally along the North Shore and was produced by the husband and wife filmmaking team of Andy and Erin Schroeder, residents of Port Jefferson Station.
The film follows renowned ghost hunter Matthew Moon, who hunts and captures menacing ghosts in liquor bottles until his disappearance. Twenty years later, Moon’s niece Blue inherits his belongings and estate along with Moon’s collection of ghostly bottles. Moon’s niece and nephew Charlie discover what gives their uncle’s liquor bottles their kick when they open the bottles during their Fourth of July party.
Andy Schroeder, who also directs the film, came up with the idea for the film in the summer of 2012 with the help of Steve Sacco, who plays the part of Matthew Moon in the film.
Sacco and Schroeder teamed up to write the script, which took four months to complete. Filming followed shortly after and extended into 2013. Although less than two weeks was spent filming the actors’ scenes, Schroeder said more than 280 days was devoted to filming the movie’s numerous effect shots.
Schroeder wanted to take an “old school” approach to the film when it came to props and special effects. Puppets, real animals and other tangible props were used to add depth and authenticity to the film. This approach to special effects allowed the film to attract adults and kids alike. “We felt like there’s really not a lot of movies you can watch with kids that are under 13,” said Schroeder. “It’s definitely a movie for adults but we made it to be a family-friendly film … We didn’t want it to be a blood and guts kind of movie.”
Actor Dan Noonan, 31, who plays Charlie Moon, said people should look beyond the old school effects. “I think in this day and age in regards to just the tone of the movie, go in with an open mind expecting to have a good time,” Noonan said. “People get way too involved in how effects should look.”
Noonan lives in Albany but he met Schroeder in college more than 10 years ago. He said Schroeder reached out to him about playing Charlie for the film. Noonan added that filming was an eye-opening experience that left him wanting to make more movies. Noonan is waiting to pursue acting opportunities until after the film’s official release.
The film may not have many big name actors, but it does includes local actors and actresses like Ward Melville High School graduate Kerry Logan. Logan also appeared in the CW’s “Carrie Diaries” and played Piper’s cousin in “Orange Is the New Black.”
While the “Distiller” cast tackles their ghosts, the community can catch glimpses of Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in Setauket, Port Jefferson Village and the Berkshires in the film. Schroeder and his cast and crew utilized Emma S. Clark’s historic periodical reading room in several scenes, which was the original library building in 1892 according to Andy’s wife Erin who helped produce the film alongside her husband.
“It looks very rich and regal,” said Erin, about the older section of the library. The couple thought filming scenes in these areas of the library would improve the look of the film and save money at the same time. As a library assistant at Emma S. Clark, Erin helped secure the location for the film.
While her husband majored in music engineering and producing at SUNY Oneonta, Erin wasn’t as familiar with producing a film. She chose to help the film behind the scenes by designing props and helping her husband with effects, saying, “It was the two of us, Andy and I, doing all the editing, music production, doing all the sound effects.”
Andy Schroeder once worked at the Setauket library as a page while he was attending Ward Melville High School. Now he produces the Town of Brookhaven’s TV Channel 18 on Cablevision as an audio-video production specialist and is also the artist of a weekly comic strip based on “Distiller,” which follows “Uncle Matt,” the film’s ghost hunter, on his supernatural misadventures. While he has produced other short films and music videos in the past, this is Schroeder’s first feature film.
While Schroeder doesn’t plan on creating a sequel to “Distiller,” the money earned from this production will go toward creating more films in the future. While he grew up in Setauket, Schroeder and his wife currently reside in Port Jefferson Station with their parakeets Doc, Cuddles, Quattro and Baby.
Residents can find out what happened to Moon and his ghosts at the film’s free screening on Friday, Jan. 8, at 7 p.m. at the Emma S. Clark Library, 120 Main St., Setauket. Andy and Erin Schroeder will be in attendance to answer questions and the film crew will distribute free “Distiller” posters and comics based on the film’s characters during the premiere. The film will be available nationally on digital Video-On-Demand on iTunes, Amazon Prime and Google Play this Friday.
For more information on the film, to view the trailer or to see behind the scenes footage, visit www.distillerthemovie.com.