Middle Village songwriter Lori Martini dives into the world of film with her real-life inspired short “A Route Less Traveled.”
Martini, who co-produced and directed the movie with a friend, Staten Island actress-filmmaker Maria Rusolo, admits it’s a lot of work, yet fun and rewarding.
“While my heart was first and foremost into songwriting, I found my passion in screenwriting and creating art after stumbling into the film industry,” Martini said. “I had crashed the set of ‘Two Weeks Notice’ at Shea Stadium because of my strong ties with the Mets, and I haven’t looked back.”
(The self-described “rabid Mets fan” is known for the team’s rallying song, “Believe,” which became a hit single.)
“A Route Less Traveled” echoes Martini’s childhood paper route experience in Brooklyn. The film was shot in Lindenhurst, LI.
Martini and Rusolo met while working on various sets.
“Believe it or not, since we’re both petite, we were standing in for kids a lot,” Martini said. “We became close when we worked on ‘Lady in the Water,’ as tenants in the building.”
The main characters in “Route,” Alex and Dani, fight over a paper route and can’t agree on hot-button issues like girls doing everything better than boys.
Actors Cameron Ocasio, of Nickelodeon’s “Sam & Cat,” and Rebecca Goldfarb play the twin siblings, and Justin Guarini, an American Idol contestant and member of Broadway’s “Romeo and Juliet,” plays a newspaper rep who teaches the kids a valuable lesson about not jumping to conclusions.
Martini injected other meaningful and timeless messages into the script, such as “Teamwork is better than going it alone,” “Being a bully isn’t cool” and “Don’t judge a book by its cover.’”
“I want the movie to show that I believe in our future generation; their ability to problem-solve and build successful relationships in person, as opposed to on social media; handle responsibility and be self-aware,” Rusolo explained. “Each generation has a tendency to put labels and expectations on the generation coming up behind them. More often than not, these aren’t accurate or fair.”
A strong children’s advocate through her music, Martini wrote inspirational and positive songs — interwoven throughout the film — which speak volumes to tweens and teens, conveying a sense of hope: “Fearless” and “Reach for the Stars,” “Swim,” written with and performed by Cassandra Kubinski, “Believe” and “I’m Not Perfect,” all of which are featured on Lifetime’s “Dance Moms.”
Her new songs “Rewind It” and “Blow” are now on iTunes.
Rusolo will be producing another short film, “Free Pass,” which has already earned three screenwriting awards.
“Working with Lori was a bit like riding a roller coaster — and I love to hit the thrill rides,” said Rusolo. “There’s the anticipation of knowing you’re about to embark on something fun, then a hint of trepidation about the unknown challenges ahead, and finally the adrenaline rush takes over and it’s all smooth sailing. When you’re done you feel excited and you look for a bigger, scarier coaster to conquer. In our case, the next coaster after ARLT will be our first full-length feature film.”
The duo eagerly await final editing of ARLT by the end of September, when they’ll submit it to the Tribeca Film Festival and the Hamptons International Film Festival.