Ben Zuckert, a writer, director and musician, made his first feature film about Larchmont and named it as such, the place he grew up. His latest feature, Noah Wise, was filmed in Park Slope and Larchmont, as he came back to the Village to film scenes involving an elementary school concert band.
The film follows a saxophonist and a singer-songwriter pursuing music in New York. When the saxophonist’s quartet takes a break, he finds a new path as a 5th grade band teacher. Larchmont locations are featured in the film including Chatsworth Avenue School, Larchmont Music Academy and the Ballroom dance program at St. John’s Church. The Ballroom Dance Director, Patty Bainton plays herself in the film.
A group of Chatsworth and Hommocks music students are featured in the film in their first on-screen performances. They play ‘The Blue Rock,’ a song familiar to many Chatsworth alumni and parents. The song was taught by Chatsworth band teacher Peter Kanyuk for over 30 years.
According to Zuckert, “I played ‘The Blue Rock’ when I was at Chatsworth. It was a rite of passage for 5th graders, but students no longer learn it now that Mr. Kanyuk isn’t there. Fortunately, Claudia Huter of the Larchmont Music Academy stepped in to teach it to the students.”
Zuckert explained that he went to Tufts and studied political science. “I didn’t major in film. I tried to teach myself by reading, watching and trial and error. A lot of my favorite filmmakers didn’t attend film school, so that gave me hope that it was possible to pursue filmmaking without a formal education.”
He wrote, directed, and composed the music for the film, 8 songs in total, which was screened in 2018 at the Twin Cities Film Fest, where it was nominated for best feature and the Hof International Film Festival in Germany. This year he screened the film at the Keswick Film Festival in the United Kingdom and will screen the film in South Africa this summer at the 40th Durban International Film Festival.
“I hope to make films that viewers can connect to in an emotional way,” Zuckert concluded. “My focus is on stories about people, trying to capture different outlooks and ways people can find meaning.”
The movie is now available to view on Amazon.