Filmmakers Look for Community Assist to Fund 'Astoria Park' Hoops Film

By Jeanmarie Evelly on April 3, 2014 8:53am 

'Astoria Park' Film
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Crescent Street Films

ASTORIA — A pair of Queens filmmakers are looking for an alley-oop from their fellow Astorians.

Paras Chaudhari and Chrysovalantis Stamelos, founders of the production company Crescent Street Films, are launching a fundraising campaign to help turn their hoop dreams of making a film about their neighborhood and basketball into a reality.

They conceived the idea for the film, "Astoria Park"— about two groups of ethnically diverse friends battling it out on the basketball courts of Astoria Park on a hot summer day — after moving to the neighborhood a decade ago.

They made a short version of the film in 2005, did stage readings and have shopped it around, but to no avail. So they've decided to take matters into their own hands, looking to residents of the neighborhood to help finish the flick.

"We decided it was time to stop going after investors, and do a Kickstarter campaign," said Chaudhari, 32. They plan to involve the community in the fundraiser by hosting a series of events that will spotlight both the movie and the local arts scene.

The campaign — dubbed "Astoria Stand Up" — will kick off Saturday with an talent showcase at Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden that will feature performances by local musicians and spoken word artists.

"This is a movie about Astoria. There's so much art and talent and pride in this community, and we need to let the community know about it," Chaudhari said.

"Let's do it as a community and create a collaborative Kickstarter campaign, and give other artists and musicians an opportunity to showcase their work at the same time."

He and Stamelos, 33 — who will be coming from Turkey, where he moved four years ago to make a documentary — will be filming the event to create their Kickstarter video.

The final video will be screened at a second event at The Strand Smokehouse on April 13, where they will officially launch the Kickstarter campaign.

Chaudhari said the film — which he described as a "gritty urban drama," similar to if "'Do The Right Thing,' 'Boyz n the Hood,' 'Kids' and '8 Mile' had a baby" — addresses issues like race and homophobia and speaks to the diversity of Astoria.

"What we wanted to do was tell a story from under-represented perspectives," he said.

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