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  • The Packing House 156 River Road Willington, CT, 06279 United States (map)



Join Ashford, CT film maker Dan McGinley for a premiere screening of his independent film Blues Legend exclusively at The Packing House! You may have been following the development of this film from Dan's bi-monthly articles in the Neighbors Paper. Having been submitted to the Rhode Island and New Orleans film festivals, this film is now ready to be unveiled locally.

"By night, Dan McGinley is a janitor for the Putnam school district. By day and on weekends though, he’s as indie as a moviemaker can get. McGinley spent four years making a feature-length movie — with no money and no professional actors." -  Francesca Kefalas, Norwich Bulletin

Blues Legend concerns a desperate guitar player down on his luck in New Orleans.  A foolish attempt to sell his soul for fame and fortune invokes the wrath of a powerful Voodoo Queen, related to his wife’s Cajun side. Inspired by a passion for blues guitar and a dream, McGinley put it all together. Dan McGinley’s efforts nearly made cinematic history by being selected for the Cannes Film Festival (Le Festival de Cannes).

Read the entire Norwich Bulletin interview with Francesca Kefalas here.

Join us for this special screening and Q&A with local film maker Dan McGinley in our intimate historic setting. This film screening is a part of The Packing House Film Series hosted by the Friends of The Mill Works. Cabaret and theater seating available. Snacks and soft drinks available. "BYOB" - Beer and Wine ONLY (I.D. Required).

Call 518-791-9474 for information and table reservations.

The Film:

With a volunteer cast doubling as crew, and equipment resold at face value, the entire cost of Blues Legend was no more than a few hundred dollars, including beer and pizza.  The achievement sets a new precedent, and competed against works by Steven Spielberg and Jodie Foster, who worked with budgets of several million dollars.  Blues Legend was rejected by Cannes after over a month of review, and with less than a week until final selections were made.  

Considering that none of the thirty-two cast members had ever been in a film before, this makes the achievement even more outstanding.

Encouraged by Rhode Island documentary filmmaker David Bettencourt, McGinley obtained used cameras, a microphone, and an Apple editing program to begin production on the screenplay he had written in 2011.  He called his group of unknowns Quiet Corner Films, and began a marathon work schedule.

Good fortune and networking seemed to provide miraculous breaks and opportunities as filming progressed.  When the daughter of a cast member (fellow janitor Ken Theroux) approached Tavana McMoore, an established singer-songwriter-musician in Hawaii who shared the stage with Pearl Jam, Tavana volunteered all of his work.  When McGinley spotted a phenomenal English blues guitarist on YouTube named Danny James, a quick e-mail message secured his talents as well, and a large part of the soundtrack was set to the mysterious Delta legend.

Need a Cajun actress from New Orleans?  Lenora Grunko from E.O. Smith’s Drama Department suggested Mellissa Robichaux, a talented drama student from New Orleans, and McGinley had his leading actress.  How about a tattooed, muscular Voodoo Slave assassin?  When a perfect likeness was spotted in a local store, McGinley approached him and posed the tricky question.  That night, he got a call and the role was filled.  Need a 1931 Model A police car?  It was parked at Dunkin’ Donuts in Ashford, and the owner was one of the nicest people McGinley ever met.

There were some tough times, too.  McGinley’s father became ill and passed away before the film was completed, after contributing a song he had written with Gospel singer Bill Gaither.  The tragedy also served to push the filmmaker, and remind him of how tenuous and precious life can be, to try and seize every opportunity and pursue your passion.   

With his cast and used equipment, McGinley studied the methods of director Robert Rodriquez, who had filmed El Mariachi in Mexico for less than eight-thousand dollars.  He also read the challenge set forth by legendary German filmmaker Werner Herzog, who pledged to eat a shoe if his friend Errol Morris ever made a movie.  Morris completed Gates of Heaven in 1978, and Herzog made good on his word, consuming an entire shoe (except for the rubber sole) in front of a live audience in Berkeley, California.  

Cast Members:
Steve Aukerman (appliance repair, Ashford) as Officer Steve Bouchet
Sammi Balkus (student, Mansfield) as Young Desiree La Rose
Joe Corbin (prison guard) as Victor (Voodoo Slave assassin)
Dan’l Dunnegan (aka Dan McGinley, custodian, Putnam) as Paul La Rose
Alfonso Discepolo (farmer, Ashford) as The Chicken Farmer
Lisa Freeman (last minute double for Desiree and friend of Jim Stearns, West Townsend, MA) as Desiree La Rose
Todd Hayes (custodian, Putnam) as Psychiatric Doctor
Kevin Johnson (mechanic, Ashford) as Drunk on Couch
Levi Jules (Bronx, NY) as Ike
Amber Lawrence (daughter of Sunday, Hartford) as Young Benin Voodoo Queen
Sundai Lawrence (Voodoo Queen, Somers) as The Voodoo Queen
Bill Lopes (self-employed, West Townsend, MA) as Smoking Cajun
Lucy Love (self-employed, Middletown) as Dominatrix with Whip
Gwen McGinley (student, Ashford) as Camille La Rose
Dan Pannekeet (custodian, Putnam) as CT Police Officer #1
Devon Pannekeet (custodian, Putnam) as CT Police Officer #2
Austin Parke (student, Woodstock) as Demon Bartender
Tony Pena (extra, West Townsend, MA) as Sitting Cajun
EJ Prochowski (student, Putnam) as Demon Child
Mellissa Robichaux (Army, Willimantic) as Desiree La Rose
Linda Roto (school nurse, Putnam) as Hospital Manager
Jeanne Russo (USPS, Ashford) as Mary La Rose
Ed Saint Jermaine (real estate, Danielson) as Tourist in Bar
Bill Stearns (machinist, West Townsend, MA) as Curious Cajun in Bar
Jim Stearns (machinist, West Townsend, MA) as Harmonica Cajun
Jordon Tetrealt (student, Putnam) as Mortal Bartender
Ken Theroux (custodian, Putnam) as The Devil
Tiger (dog in bar, West Townsend, MA) as Dog in Bar
Joe Waggenbrenner (retired engineer, Ashford) as God the Father
Jim York (retired fireman, now full-time actor.  Ashford) as Officer La Beau
Lauri Lynn Wilbur (business, Ashford) as Police Dispatcher

The Ashford School Singers (“Going Home” by William Arms Fisher – 1922)
Danny James – Blues guitar
Tod McGinley and Bill Gaither – “The Hurtin’ Days Are Over”
Tavana McMoore – “Tumble Down” (title song), “Desert Rain”, “Drink the Wine”, and “Slip into a Coma”
The Salvation Alley String Band – “Christian Soul”

SOURCE: May 10, 2016 Press Release, Dan McGinley


Earlier Event: October 22
Later Event: October 29

The Packing House  |  156 River Road, Suite 1301Willington, Connecticut 06279  |  (518)791-9474