Before I get to the rest of the cast, I have to thank the unbelievably kind hospitality and amazing location Jared Christopherson provided for “Choke.”
His penthouse apartment overlooking NYU area, with an extensive massive “L” shaped rooftop terrace was perfect for the Red Carpet Event scene.
The balcony perspective was absolutely sensational, but even better was how open Jared was to allow us to free reign to shoot the scene the way Edwin M. Figueroa wanted it. I’m sure I speak for the rest of the cast & crew that we will be forever grateful to him for this day and I can honestly say we could not have had a better place to begin the movie.
On top of that, Jared played role in the scene as the “Producer’s Assistant” and he had the crucial function of trying to protect the Producer from seeing something that was going to really upset him.
Next I have to talk about the contribution Designer/Wardrobe Stylist Janine Giorgenti gave making George Brianka, James Balsamo and I look our absolute best. Janine not only provided the thousand dollar suits we each wore, but she personally came to the shoot to make sure the clothes fit us best and pinned us by hand, when she needed to.
It meant a lot to me that someone as talented and successful as Janine was willing to help our little production. It says so much about her kind and generous heart. The world needs more people like Janine and I’m honored she was willing to help us look so good.
Janine was assistant by Fashion Stylist Alexandro Jomar Ramirez, and we can’t thank them enough for the expertise and the incredible clothing they dressed us in.
If you live or do business on Long Island or New York City and are in need of any kind of men’s fine clothing, there is no one better than Janine Giorgenti.
Richard Kern was back to make a cameo as one of the “Cloaked Figures” from “Stash.” Edwin thought this was a good idea since “Stash” will follow “Choke” in the order of movies shown in DEVIL’S FIVE.
Rick also came through with helping provide some of the dinner as he spearhead obtaining a tray of Baked Ziti from Dan Romano @ Frankies East Side Gourmet Italian Restaurant (located 313 Main Street Farmingdale NY 516-756-2753) which was gobbled up faster than you can blink an eye.
The other “Cloaked Figure” from “Stash“ was young Jesse Ray Sheps. It’s always great to work with the little guy who projects maturity way beyond his years. Having worked with Jesse four times now (“Stash“, XXistence Teaser Trailer, “The Devil’s Five” and “Choke“), seeing him and his amazing parents Robert & Marci almost feels like family to me.
“Choke” also afforded Jesse the opportunity to show off his musical skills on guitar and the ladies enjoyed his performing no doubt.
Last but certainly not least were our two Paparazzi photographers Kato Peragine and his son Christian Peragine. I go all the way back to 1994, when I directed a Music Video for Guitarist Michael Knight called “The Phoenix“, which Kato was the drummer in that band. Christian by the way has picked up the sticks and is really developed into drummer himself.
Kato and I struck up a friendship then and have worked together on all sorts of things since. For example, back in the late 90s, when I couldn’t attended a Joe Satriani concert in NYC as a journalist/photographer I called Kato and he went to the show instead and covered the show with some amazing photographs.
Kato auditioned for the role of “Johnny Garrett” in Evil Streets back in 1996 and served as the Gaffer on the fundraising Trailer I made for Anomaly.
Besides being an occasional actor and Drummer, Kato is also a very experienced Electrician and actually provided all the electrical work in my house right after we bought it. Kato and his son (s) rewired/reinstalled every single outlet plug and light switch in the entire house.
Kato is also an accomplished and decorated Martial Arts Instructor and in mid-2015 I directed an Infomercial for the Super Punch and Kick Target product Kato and his business partner created.
Having Kato and Christian in “Choke” was fantastic for me because with their talent behind the lens and our long history, it just made the whole experience that much more meaningful. Their outstanding pictures in this and the previous blog can certainly attest to that.
The Making of…Johnny Garrett
By Writer/Producer Michael Knight
After completing a music video, I spoke with Terry about doing another project. I was impressed with Terry’s enthusiasm and drive. It’s easy to start a project but when problems arise, a lot of people bail. Terry proved he could finish what he started and make the best of it.
I had several horror fiction stories published at the time and had envisioned them as short films. After some reading we decided on my short story, The Downfall of Johnny Garrett and adapted it for film. It was like the old DC horror comics tale, a simple revenge story with a lot of visual aspects to it. In fact, the original story only had two lines of dialogue in it.
I also had ideas for doing horror soundtrack music with predominantly guitar. Not song placements but actual atmospheric music background for the film.
We were going full-on gorilla filmmaking because of the locations we wanted to use.
Steve Rodriguez had a great look for the 70’s style gang leader, Johnny.
Nicole Bryl made for the perfect innocent Sheila.
One of the problems we had was starting off with too big of a crew. Trying to be discreet with 12 people setting up a shot was a problem. The police kicked us out of our chosen locations on the first night of shooting. I decided to send half the crew home and to cut them from the remainder of the project. More was definitely not better in this case. My knowledge of Queens NY helped me think of secluded places we could shoot on the fly.
Lighting was a problem for several scenes because we didn’t have access to electric. We adjusted as best we could as we went along.
We shot the final scenes behind my (at the time) music studio in Massapequa, NY so we had privacy, permission to be there, and access to electricity. It certainly paid off for some great shots.
My buddy, John Hoelzer set up props and the arm and bone prosthetics for the arm chop. Craig Lindberg set up the blood pump. Jason Alvino did the dead woman’s make up. And my buddy, Ben Guzik helped with lighting (and driving to 7-11 for coffee and cigarettes, lol)
It was a fun project and it showed me how much work goes into shooting a short 15-minute segment like Johnny Garrett.
If you want to see what Michael has been doing since, check out his Amazon Authors Page: