A Newburgh tale on big-time path
By John Doherty
October 05, 2007 7:00 PM
City of Newburgh ? Lyme disease. A truck full of plasma TVs. Newburgh thugs.
Somewhere in there, Ed Crawford thinks, could be Hollywood gold.
Crawford, 33, is the driving force behind "Evan's Gate," an indie film with big ideas and a tiny budget.
"This isn't even low budget," said Crawford, a Newburgh native. "It's like, no budget."
The movie tells the story of a widower father whose young son contracts Lyme disease. The man is quickly drowning in medical bills his insurance company won't pay. Some local hoods make an offer: help hijack a truck loaded with electronics and get your son's medicine.
"How far will a father go to help his son?" wonders Crawford, who based the film on his own fight with Lyme disease. "That's what this is about."
Crawford, who grew up in the Town of Newburgh and is a Newburgh Free Academy graduate, is the film's creator, writer, costar, editor, lighting designer, producer, sound guy, accountant and gopher.
"My mom and dad, everyone, they think I'm crazy," said Crawford. "They're like, 'Why don't you become a cop, or get a job on the railroad, like everyone else in the family?'"
His movie begins filming in Newburgh tomorrow and he will spend days this month at a handful of local landmarks: Pamela's Restaurant at the blue-collar Newburgh Yacht Club, the Route 17K Pilot Truck Stop and a local Gold's Gym. By March, the project is to be done and ready for showing at the Garden State Film Festival, where it has already been accepted on the strength of Crawford's script.
He is hoping for an invite to the Tribeca Film Festival as well.
"I see Newburgh as a character in this film," he said.
Crawford these days is the picture of the hustling, struggling artist. He divides his time between his parents' home here and friends' couches in New York City.
He arranged an interview about "Evan's Gate" this week from the set of "Law & Order," where he auditioned for the ninth time ? and for the ninth time missed winning a multi-episode bit part.
"Hey, they keep calling back, though," said Crawford. "They must see something."
But Crawford has already had the type of modest success in film that would turn many actors green with envy.
He costarred in "Down to the Bone," a drug-soaked drama that won two awards at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, including the prize for best director.
That little-seen film helped spawn "Evan's Gate."
Through it, he began to meet the industry types that encouraged him to turn a one-act play about Lyme disease into a feature-length screenplay. He was also recognized by a local working actor, Lou Gross (he played Tony Soprano's muscle-bound driver on the Soprano's final season) at a local gym. Gross took a part in "Evan's Gate."
What Crawford is actually filming this month is a condensed 30-minute version of the film to be used to attract money-men at film festivals. He already has turned down a $30,000 offer to sell the screenplay for someone else to make.
It's a Newburgh story, he says, and his personal moonshot.
"I love Newburgh, I'll always be here. Even if I, quote-unquote, make it, I'll still be here," said Crawford, laughing. "I'll be in Balmville, of course, but I'll still be here."