Two Berkshires chums bridge time, geography with 26-minute film

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The Berkshire-born friendship of Matt Bosson and Peter Brooke has come full circle in award-winning fashion.

In 1984, Bosson won Best Actor at the Berkshire Community College High School Drama Festival in a play Brooke directed.

Now, more than three decades later, Bosson has directed Brooke in a film, "Desperate Manny," with a best actor honor this time going to Brooke, who was honored at this year's Studio International Film Festival in Los Angeles for his performance as an alcoholic father who is pushed to the edge. Bosson also wrote the script for the short film that deals with alcoholism, gun violence, a child custody battle and kidnapping — all within 26 minutes.

The cinematic collaboration unexpectedly re-united the two Mount Greylock Regional High School alums who went on separate career paths. Bosson ended up in Los Angeles and became a successful video and graphics coordinator for television shows, among them "Grey's Anatomy" and "House, MD." Brooke launched a successful acting career in New York City before taking his talents to London. His recent film credits include "The Dinosaur Project," "The Throwaways" and "Age of Kill."

Despite the 5,000-mile separation, the two men picked up where they left off 32 years ago.

"We have stayed in touch, just never really been in the same country at the same time," Brooke wrote via email from London. " I've always appreciated his view of life and that transitioned well into being directed by him and speaking his words."

After an audition via Skype, Bosson knew Brooke would make a perfect Manny.

He had no doubts he and Brooke could recapture the theatrical magic from their teen years.

"Being able to do anything with my best friend was a blast," Bosson said in a phone interview from Los Angeles.

The film also ended up a family affair with Bosson's wife, Leslie Bosson (nee Sacco), another 1984 Mount Greylock graduate, handled the accounting and payroll and helped develop the story. The other producers included Matt Bosson's aunt, actress Barbara Bosson, best known for playing Fay Furillo in the 1980s police drama, "Hill Street Blues," along with her children, Jesse and Melissa Bochco. Their father and Bosson's former husband, Steven Bochco was the writer-producer behind "Hill Street Blues" and "L.A. Law," among other television series.

The resulting collaboration is "Desperate Manny"; a microcosm of American society's dark side set in a single room in Monterey, Calif.

The film opens with Manny holding a handgun and whiskey bottle. The alcoholic father has kidnapped his son in an effort to keep the 7-year-old boy from his drug-addicted ex-wife, who has been awarded sole custody of the child. Manny also has taken hostage Officer Reyes (Rosemary Dominguez) who pulled him over for speeding. All the while, Manny's friend, Neil (Peter Onorati), keeps calling Manny's cell phone, pleading that he give himself up to the authorities.

Officer Reyes tries to diffuse the situation by identifying with her captor, a move not originally in the script.

"I made the choice to make her a recovering alcoholic and she lost her daughter to her husband. I was trying to manipulate [Manny] as I had to get out of there alive," said Dominguez, who has her own Berkshires connection — she spent one summer in the mid-1980s as an apprentice at Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge.

The ending — can't give that away — is thought-provoking and the only one that seems fitting, Bosson, Dominquez and Brooke agree.

"I think this is the power of a great story; to be entertained, definitely, but also bring its audience to a moral crossroads," Brooke said.

"Desperate Manny" will continue to play the film festival circuit, which could include the 2017 Berkshire Film Festival, pending acceptance by BIFF organizers. Bosson also plans to make the film available online in order to reach a wider national audience.

"We aim to get 'Manny' on as many screens as possible," Bosson said.

Contact Dick Lindsay at (413) 496-6233


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