Film

An Indie Film Becomes an RI Homecoming

Director Gabriel Long reconnected with his Ocean State roots while filming his debut feature, The Passing Season

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Sometimes you can’t go home again. The Passing Season, an independent film shot in Rhode Island by Rhode Island-born Gabriel Long, explores some of the reasons why. In it, amateur hockey player Sam, played by Sense8’s Brian J. Smith, gets cut from his Boston team after it becomes clear to his coach that he’s hit his peak. With his adult identity ripped out from under him, Sam flees to his fictionalized East Bay hometown of Jamesport, where he assumes that everything will be waiting for him, the same as it ever was.

For Gabriel, returning to Rhode Island from New York didn’t come with the same kind of melancholy that hits Sam. Along with his producer and wife Rebecca Atwood, Gabriel moved to the West Side last August, just after The Passing Season premiered at the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

“I think for me, the process that Sam goes through is letting go of some of the visions that you have of yourself. I’d say that if there’s a parallel to our move, that’s maybe the closest piece of it,” says Gabriel. “You’re living in New York and you have your identity, but then you get to a point where you’re ready to let that go.”

“We did make this movie and recreate the going-home-to-Rhode-Island part of it in a funny way,” adds Rebecca. “If the timeline was reversed, it might be more like our situation. It was a ‘life imitating art’ sort of thing.”

Funded with $30,000 from Kickstarter, the scrappy indie was shot in Providence, the East Bay and Newport in just 15 days. Locations included freebies like Gabriel’s parents’ house and a gung-ho local bar and its enthusiastic patrons. Rhode Island’s natural beauty added production value where needed and locals stepped up in small roles where required. The shoot took more of a guerrilla-style documentary approach, allowing every dime of the tiny budget to count.

“My advice to any young filmmakers,” Gabriel offers, “is go to the place where you can get the stuff for free. In New York nobody is excited about it and nobody wants to help you out. It couldn’t have been more opposite here. People were excited about it.”