Short film ‘Tom’ shot on Kent Island

Record Observer - - Arts & Entertainment - By HANNAH COMBS hcombs@kibay­

AN­NAPO­LIS — Michael Smigiel’s short film, “Tom,” will de­but to au­di­ences in the states this Sun­day, April 2, at the An­napo­lis Film Fes­ti­val. “Tom,” a 12-minute short film, is a drama pro­duced and writ­ten by Smigiel. The film is not rated. The ma­jor­ity of the film was shot on Kent Island, where the cen­tral char­ac­ter Tom leads his mother to be­lieve that his ob­ses­sion of peep­ing on a young wo­man is an ac­tual re­la­tion­ship.

Smigiel, the son of Michael Smigiel Sr., for­mer del­e­gate for the Maryland House of Del­e­gates, Dis­trict 36, is a na­tive of the Eastern Shore and a grad stu­dent at Mar yland In­sti­tute Col­lege of Art (MICA) in Bal­ti­more. Smigiel said he is very hon­ored to have his first de­but at the An­napo­lis Film Fes­ti­val.

The film was writ­ten on Smigiel’s own time, not as a school project, but it was a project he said he wanted to see be­come a re­al­ity. Af­ter con­vinc­ing some of his friends from grad­u­ate school to join him in his ef­fort, Smigiel said the film­ing took about a month to com­plete. They had orig­i­nally planned to shoot at a fam­ily friend’s house in Ch­ester­town in Novem­ber 2015 but were de­terred by the tem­po­rary clos­ing of Wash­ing­ton Col­lege and the sur­round­ing area due to re­ports of a pos­si­ble gun threat. Smigiel and his crew re­lo­cated the shoot to Kent Island.

With­out giv­ing away the plot, “Tom” will leave view­ers with more ques­tions than an­swers. Orig­i­nally writ­ten as piece of a 10-part se­ries, every­thing isn’t re­vealed in the first “episode,” said Smigiel.

“With this first piece I wanted the viewer to never know who was good and who was bad and why this was hap­pen­ing. I wanted them to feel bad for the pro­tag­o­nist by the end but then be shocked when he broke into the [girl’s] house.”

The girl’s home was bor­rowed from a fam­ily friend on Kent Island, and the mother’s home was a friend’s in Bal­ti­more City, said Smigiel. The mom in the movie is played by Kath­leen Beller, rec­og­nized best per­haps from her por­trayal of Kirby in “Dy­nasty”; she is a teacher at MICA.

Smigiel shared some of the thought process be­hind the de­vel­op­ment of this char­ac­ter: “We had her char­ac­ter have an ob­ses­sion with the ‘80s. That’s why you will hear her talk about the Blues Broth­ers, see her drive a DeLorean, and lis­ten to ‘She Blinded Me with Sci­ence,’ writ­ten by Thomas Dolby.”

Dolby is Beller’s hus­band in re­al­ity and helped with scor­ing the film, added Smigiel.

View­ers also wilkl rec­og­nize the ve­hi­cles and uni­forms of the Queen Anne’s County Sher­iff’s Of­fice. The per­son­nel from the sher­iff’s of­fice was very kind and came out for hours on their own time to help with the two scenes we needed them in, said Smigiel.

“They made sure we had the proper per­mits and all that, and we fed them well. So, it was a good ex­change,” he said. Film­ing takes a long time, as an ex­am­ple, the one shot of the pro­tag­o­nist walk­ing around the house and putting his hands up took over five hours to shoot, said Smigiel.

His next film to de­but is ti­tled “I’m Alive and Do­ing Well” and is shot on Kent Island and in Ch­ester­town and Ocean City and will pre­miere at the Falvy Hall Theater in Bal­ti­more on April 29. Smigiel said he is pas­sion­ate about film­ing on the Shore and has al­ways shared a con­nec­tion with the places he has called home over the years. Af­ter grad­u­a­tion he plans to con­tinue to pur­sue his ca­reer, hope­fully as a direc­tor.

The An­napo­lis Film Fes­ti­val is hosted at dif­fer­ent venues across An­napo­lis and passes are avail­able for in­di­vid­ual films each day or there are gen­eral passe, good for the en­tire fes­ti­val. “Tom” will be shown at 10 a.m. April 2 at An­napo­lis El­e­men­tary School. For more in­for­ma­tion and tick­ets visit http://an­napol­is­film­fes­ti­val. com/passes-tick­ets or call at 410-263-3444.


Michael Smigiel is writer, pro­ducer and co-direc­tor of the short film “Tom,” filmed on Kent Island.

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