Antonio DiVerdis and his film crew were driving around the South Shore in late November looking for a green field. There wasn’t much chance of finding a verdant location for shooting a film scene, but somewhere near the town of Huntingdon they found what they were looking for: a richly green field, with pretty yellow flowers to boot.
It was a field of mustard plants, a crop that keeps its colour all year round. Their timing was perfect: the farmer was preparing to cut his field the next day. The film crew set up camp, and nabbed the opening shot of DiVerdis’ first film, South of the Moon.
Luck like this has helped South of the Moon earn the title “Miracle Project.” Though the project didn’t qualify for financial help from the government, it eventually came together with a little luck and some independent financing. The film has had a blessed path.
People helped bring the production together. Casting directors doubled as producers. An actor’s home masqueraded as one of the main sets. Even Mother Nature pitched in by proving weather reports wrong. A predicted snowstorm, potentially crippling for such a production, didn’t occur. And while DiVerdis worried about cash, money always came through when it was needed.
“Something would happen, and some how the money would appear,” he said.
But profit doesn’t appear to be DiVerdis’s big goal. “The reaction has literally been phenomenal,” he said. “When men come up to you and tell you they’ve never cried in a film, but that this film brought tears to their eyes. That’s my reward.”
The movie began as a song that the Montreal composer by profession began tinkering with. “It initiated as a song, and from there, it was a departure to write a screenplay,” said DiVerdis, who co-wrote the script with Stephen Ryder.
“We both realized we had written a coming-of-age story. I took some of the elements from his story, and incorporated it into my story, and that’s how the script came together.”
South of the Moon is a coming-of-age story. Twelve-year-old Coleman grows up, falls in love and discovers his changing body. His parents fight. His friend is bullied. It would appear to be a typical teenager story. But Coleman is also trying to learn more about Mary, the woman his beloved uncle Matt loved. When Coleman pushes him for answers about her, he soon discovers something about his past.
This movie isn’t perfect, but for first-time fare, it’s commendable. The story is haunting, and the acting leaves an impression. Kudos go out to DiVerdis for putting together his first film. Next up? DiVerdis embarks on his second project, a Hitchcock-style psychological suspense film.
South of the Moon will be screening at the AMC theatre. The director, Antonio DiVerdis, will be at the screenings to answer questions on Jan. 30-31 at 7:10 and Feb. 1 at 3:40 and 7:10 p.m.