Weenie made its debut at the Hamptons International Film Festival this past weekend, not far from where it was shot in East Hampton back in summer 2013.
Dan Roe, the media studies teacher at the Ross School in East Hampton, who is an alumnus of the school as well, wrote and directed the short film. Fellow alumnus Hunter Herrick served as the cinematographer and alumna Claire Lucido played the titular character.
The film is about a 16-year-old girl who is grounded but wants to defy her mother and go to a party anyway.
“The idea was to take a simple premise,” Roe explains during an interview at the festival, “something that would have one central conflict. And I also just found myself being drawn more to female characters, for whatever reason. I suppose it’s because I have a younger sister and I have a lot of female students who are going through the same thing.”
“The name is a joke on the book Deenie, by Judy Blume,” he adds.
Though he was inspired by a children’s book author, Roe says he didn’t target a particular age group when writing the story. “I was trying to just nail certain things that I saw happening to young women.”
Roe worked with Lucido to develop the character and edited the script based on their collaboration.
“She is me in a lot of ways,” Lucido says. “Dan is a really sensitive and perceptive person and writer. And I think it’s totally honest and very true.”
Roe credits Lucido with contributing ideas and details he incorporated in the story. “It was really organic in that respect,” he says. “It wasn’t just me from the outside looking in. Claire had a major part in making this successful… making it honest.”
At the Hamptons International Film Festival, Weenie fell under the banner of Views from Long Island, a section of the festival program reserved for documentaries and narrative films made, at least partially, on Long Island. In this case, it was filmed entirely in East Hampton.
“We shot it at a friend’s house in the Northwest Woods, and that’s really the only major location—and a street scene in the same area,” Roe says.
The film is set at night, which can make shooting outdoors tricky, but Herrick says they often benefited from moonlight. For the street scene, he used a truck’s brake light. “That just gave it this awesome red glow. [I] threw a little bit of diffusion on it and it really just made everything really simple and they could just fly with that,” he says.
Roe spent more than a year with the footage editing, going through several cuts of the film.
“I didn’t want to show anybody this film until I thought it was as good as it could possibly be,” Roe says.
For the betterment of the film, he let go of a sequence they had spent two days filming. “I had to be very merciless and cut to the bone,” he says.
When he was finally satisfied, Weenie stood at 7 minutes and 43 seconds.
Weenie screened October 11 to a sold out audience at the East Hampton Cinema before the feature film Like Sunday, Like Rain. Roe says he will bring Weenie to as many festivals as he can, and aspires to make a feature length-film for his next project.
For more information about Weenie, visit weeniemovie.com.