“Knuckle Jack,” shot locally in and around Roscoe, can be seen on Sunday, June 2 at 4 p.m. during the Hoboken International Film Festival at the Paramount Theatre in Middletown. Tickets are available at www.hoboken internationalfilmfestival.com.
How one Roscoe family knuckled down in‘Knuckle Jack’
Story by Dan Hust
ROSCOE May 31, 2013 “Knuckle Jack” doesn’t shy away from harsh issues: thievery, drunkenness, drug use and an ample dose of bitterness.
But ultimately it’s about love.
Love of family.
“John had an idea for a misfit dad-daughter story which evolved into the solitary, good-for-nothin’ uncle who’s got to take care of his young heart-heavy niece for one thick, hot Catskill summer,” explains Toby Poser, who co-directed the film with husband John Adams.
Love of community.
“There is a wealth of locations we were able to make use of in Sullivan County, since we know a lot of people there, and they were very generous with their homes, land and businesses,” Toby adds. “Plus, the Catskills, the rivers, the country roads are incredibly cinematic. Much of the time we could literally walk out of our own house and begin shooting a real perk. The familiarity and love we have for the region made shooting ‘Knuckle Jack’ a very personal and rewarding experience.”
Love of life.
“Working and creating together is the best feeling, especially in a place we love so deeply,” Toby says. “Shooting along (and sometimes waist-deep inside!) the Beaverkill River was a personal thrill for me, and watching Lulu (our then-13-year-old who wanted to shoot and help direct this time around, as opposed to act) behind the camera and witnessing how John and Zelda were able to alter their real-life closeness to portray the distant, troubled Jack and his watchful, lonely niece Frankie these were my favorite moments.”
Yes, the entire film was a family effort, with John acting in the lead role of the eponymous “Knuckle Jack,” who robs wealthy weekenders’ homes to feed a drug and alcohol habit. His life begins to change when he’s forced to care for his eight-year-old niece, played by his real-life daughter Zelda.
Shot in and around Roscoe, the film’s coming to the Hoboken International Film Festival in Middletown, where it will be shown inside the restored Paramount Theatre on June 2 at 4 p.m.
“We are so excited to bring our film to Middletown because we love Middletown,” John affirms. “Our girls played soccer there on a club team. Also, we have heard over and over again what a great theater the Paramount is. It’s an honor to be coming home with our movie.”
Though the family now lives in California, home continues to be in Sullivan County Roscoe, to be specific.
“My family is from Roscoe. My grandparents settled there after coming over from Ireland, and it’s been a place and always will be a place that we’ll call home,” John says. “Over the years, we built a house from the ground up, so now we have a spot that no matter where we travel we can always come back to.”
“John’s been coming or living here since he was little, and I fell in love with the area when I fell in love with John in 1996,” Toby adds. “We’d been living in the city but began building a house in Beaverkill around 1999, and in 2011, after a wild year on the road with the kids, we finally settled into the house; the kids went to Roscoe Central School for a year before we moved back to Topanga Canyon, CA.”
You may not have met John and Toby, but chances are you’ve seen them. John, a talented artist and musician, graced the covers of many magazines as a model, while Toby, an actress and prolific voiceover artist, gained fans for her deliciously devilish role as Amanda Spaulding on the soap opera “Guiding Light.”
Their daughters are following them into these creative realms, enjoying work both in front of and behind the camera including experiencing the unexpected.
“The hardest part of doing ‘Knuckle Jack’ was when our ‘68 Mustang that had a big role in the film caught on fire on the way home from shooting a scene,” John recalls. “It meant we had to start all over again because the car had been in so many scenes. Ultimately, though, it worked out great because the pickup truck we replaced it with matched Jack’s character better.
“One of the things we as a family filmmaking unit have said is ‘use every disadvantage to your advantage,’ and that's what we did with the fact that our car caught on fire.”
It’s a reflection of the way families everywhere adapt.
“The inspiration for this film is the powerful influence children have on adults to find beauty in life,” explains John. “In this case it is Knuckle Jack’s niece Frankie that conquers her own fears before Jack even recognizes his own. Children are tough because they adapt so quickly and wisely to rough situations. Adults are slower to adapt because the ruts they are in are so much deeper and so well defined.
“It’s Frankie’s fortitude in all the wild situations thrown in front of her by Jack’s bad behavior that slowly influences Jack to take a step back from all the mayhem he is causing and perhaps think of more than just himself.”
For more information on the film and John and Toby’s past and future efforts, check out www.wonderwheelproductions.com.
For info, tickets and schedules for the Hoboken International Film Festival, visit www.hobokeninternationalfilmfestival.com.