Jul 9, 2014
04:16 PM
Arts & Entertainment

Film by A.D. Calvo Shot in New London Steps Away from Horror to Drama

Film by A.D. Calvo Shot in New London Steps Away from Horror to Drama

Filming in New London for A.D. Calvo's "The Missing Girl."

With his latest feature film, "The Missing Girl," Connecticut-based writer and director A.D. Calvo is stepping away from his comfort zone, independent horror films.

"The Missing Girl" is a character driven drama centered on the life of a comic book shop owner in New London who tries to connect with a younger girl who works in his shop.

“The film is both a portrait of New London and of a 40-year-old man-child who learns to transition into adulthood,” Calvo (below) says in a press release.

“This is my fifth feature,” the director elaborates in a phone interview. He began filmmaking in 2004 after 16 years working in software design. “Up until now I’ve only been doing young adult horror movies…I felt like I needed to do a character driven drama, something very different than the genre films.”

The 21-day shoot wrapped at the end of June, and now the film is in post-production in Waterford. Calvo hopes to have an initial screening in New York in August and the entire film wrapped by October. The plan is to have a January 2015 premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

"The Missing Girl" was filmed in New London, with the exception of one day shot in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“It was written for a depressed river town like Derby, Shelton or Ansonia,” says the Wallingford-based director. “I don’t mean to say that in a negative way. There’s a certain sense of nostalgia…The characters are stuck in town a little bit. We needed a town to do that.”  

Calvo says New London was ultimately chosen for convenience (with many of the crew living in and around that area) and for the look.

Many local businesses, including The Garde Arts Center (production offices were set up nearby), Hanafins Irish Pub, the Washinton Street Café and the City of New London were supportive of the project.

Calvo worked on the script for a year, taking it through 26 drafts. He says his co-producer, Mike Ryan of Greyshack Films, really pushed him to “strip away a lot of the manipulative techniques that have seeped into [his] filmmaking.”

Techniques like trying to wow the audience with a large surprise or holding something back from them have become staples in the horror genre.

“I felt cheated as a filmmaker probably as much as the audiences do,” Calvo says of the techniques. “I just wanted to move away from that.”

"The Missing Girl " is a drama with elements of mystery and comedy. It stands on the strength and complexity of its characters, something that not only pleased the writer but attracted some serious talent to the project.

Actor Robert Longstreet (right) of "Take Shelter" and "This is Martin Bonner" stars as the comic book shop owner. Calvo says Longstreet was interested in the film because "it was complex enough that he couldn’t explain the story to someone.”

“I’m so blown away by that guy,” Calvo says of Longstreet. “We got lucky.”

Actress Alexia Rasmussen (left) of "The Comedy" and "California Solo" stars as the young artist who is the object of the shop owner’s desire.

Eric Ladin of "The Killing," Sonja Sohn of "The Wire," Shirley Knight of "As Good As It Gets," Thomas Jay Ryan of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," Kevin Corrigan of "The Departed" and Adam David Thompson of "Martha Marcy may Marlene" also appear in the film.

The film is produced by Connecticut-based Budderfly Productions LLC and Greyshack Films, whose previous projects include the Oscar-nominated "Junebug" starring Amy Adams, Sundance-winning "Choke" with Anjelica Huston and Todd Solondz’s "Life During Wartime," which won the Best Screenplay award at the Venice Film Festival.

Calvo says the editor, Michael Taylor, has been working since the first week of filming—a major benefit that allowed the crew to “course-correct” while shooting. Calvo and Taylor will have a “rough assembly” where all the scenes are laid out together by the end of this week

While he hasn’t seen the entire film together at this point, Calvo says he’s happy with the story.

His fourth feature, "The Midnight Game," is also being released this year, on Aug. 12, by Anchor Bay Entertainment. The ensemble young adult horror film was shot in his hometown of Wallingford.

(Poster for The Midnight Game, right.)

'The Midnight Game' works as a horror film rhythmically. "The Missing Girl" will continue to show some growth,” he says. “I’ve been very self-critical and learned a lot from each film.”

For more information on A.D. Calvo and his work, see the website at goodnightfilm.com.

For more information on Greyshack Films, visit the website

Contact me by email at khartman@connecticutmag.com and follow me on Twitter, and connect with Connecticut Magazine on Twitter, on Facebook and on Google +

Film by A.D. Calvo Shot in New London Steps Away from Horror to Drama

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