Ward Melville grad, filmmaker returns to alma mater

Ward Melville grad, filmmaker returns to alma mater

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Independent filmmaker Tara Langton at her 1991 graduation from Ward Melville High School. Photo from Tara Langton

While many Long Islanders move away from home to pursue their dreams, one East Setauket native is returning to share her story.

On Oct. 27, Tara Langton, a Los Angeles-based writer and film producer, will meet with Ward Melville High School film students in teacher Stephanie DiLorenzo’s classes. During her visit, the 1991 Ward Melville graduate will discuss the ins and outs of independent filmmaking, show outtakes from her short films and answer students’ questions.

Langton during the filming of a short based on her children’s book ‘Travis Tinley and the Spirit of #22.’ Photo from Tara Langton

While she was a student at the high school, Langton said she took a film class called World of Cinema, and also participated in an acting class at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson when she was in 10th grade. Langton said she left Long Island for Los Angeles 20 years ago to pursue her dream of becoming a filmmaker. The road has been a long and tough one, but even with the tight budgets of independent filmmaking, it’s a journey she said she enjoys.

“I want to teach the students that you can make a film with virtually no budget if you have a dedicated cast and crew willing to put their heart and soul into the project,” she said. “Independent filmmaking is rarely glamorous but is truly a labor of love.”

Langton said another thing she would like to convey to the students is the importance of taking any role in filmmaking and learning from it. She said she gained a great deal of knowledge while she was a production assistant with a small acting part in the 2010 movie “Mineville” with Paul Sorvino and William Sadler. She said she asked tons of questions of those on the set while working on the film.

In 2017 she wrote and produced “Finding Anissa Jones” which was accepted into the Stella Adler Academy Short + Sweet Film Festival in Hollywood. In 2018, she plans to film “A Shortstop Away,” about a 14-year-old boy who shared a love of baseball with his father, who died from cancer. The full-length film is based on a children’s book and short film she wrote, “Travis Tinley and the Spirit of #22.” She said the story begins in Durango, Colorado, and the main character’s adventures take him to Long Island where he accepts a posthumous award for his deceased father.

Langton said in the story Travis begins to feel lost without his father, and it demonstrates that even when bad things happen to someone, there is still good in life.

“I try to write stuff that comes out of my heart, stuff that I would relate to when I was younger, and try to motivate kids to be good people.”

— Tara Langton

“I try to write stuff that comes out of my heart, stuff that I would relate to when I was younger, and try to motivate kids to be good people,” she said.

Langton said she would love to film part of the movie in the Three Village area. While interior shots will be done either in California or Pennsylvania, she said she hopes she can film some scenes at locations such as Ward Melville High School and Danfords in Port Jefferson. She said she is also hoping to find a local resident who would allow filming at their home.

The filmmaker hopes to cast a few local actors. Currently, former child actress Rachel Lindsay Greenbush, who is known for her role as Carrie Ingalls on the television show “Little House on the Prairie,” is signed to play one of the supporting characters in the film.

When it comes to her trip home, Langton, who visits Long Island twice a year to see friends, said she is looking forward to walking the halls of Ward Melville once again.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to come back to the Three Village area and share my film experience with the students and faculty at my alma mater,” she said.