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Upstate New York inspires Brockport alumnus' film

by Kari Ashworth - News Editor
Tue, Oct 8th 2019 08:00 pm
Actor and The College at Brockport alumnus William Fichtner made his directorial debut with movie `Cold Brook` which he showed in the ballroom of the Seymour College Union. After the showing Fichtner spent time with the crowd answering questions, taking photos and signing autographs.
Actor and The College at Brockport alumnus William Fichtner made his directorial debut with movie "Cold Brook" which he showed in the ballroom of the Seymour College Union. After the showing Fichtner spent time with the crowd answering questions, taking photos and signing autographs.

The College at Brockport welcomed alumnus William Fichtner back to his alma mater to screen his debut film “Cold Brook.” The screening took place Tuesday, Oct. 1, to  a full ballroom in the Seymour College Union. 

“This is a serious labor of love,” Fichtner said. “I started writing this film 14 years ago with a good friend of mine, and I wrote this to act with another great friend of mine. And my biggest commitment from the beginning of this was that I shot it in upstate New York.”

“Cold Brook” follows the story of two friends who embark on a unique journey together without leaving their small town. The film was shot in Cortland, and Buffalo, New York, something Fichtner said was his inspiration for it. In 1974, Fichtner studied at SUNY Farmingdale, where he met his college girlfriend Rosie. She was from Cortland and her family had a plot of land on Cold Brook Road, which is featured in the film and was the inspiration for the name. 

“[Rosie’s family] had a family farm that was on Cold Brook Road, which is just north of Cortland about a 10-15 minute ride,” Fichtner said. “And on the family farm is that cabin. So I’ve been hanging out in that cabin since the fall of ’74. And fast forward 30-some years and we start writing this and I knew that this the cabin would be a part of it, this land, and I wrote for that, I wrote it to do it there.”

Fichtner had some pushback from his producers due to “Cold Brook” being a low budget film. Moving the entire crew from Buffalo to Cortland was tricky, but after showing his co-producers, Sara Shaak and Shayne Putzlocher, the land, they decided it could not be filmed anywhere else. 

While many of the main actors in the film came from Los Angeles, Fichtner was committed to hiring local actors as well.

“I had hired 22 or 23 speaking roles of actors that were from Western New York,” Fichtner said. “And like all the kids in the film, they never acted in front of a camera before. I just thought, after working with them a little bit, they were amazing. So, when we went to the Napa Film Festival last year in November and we won the Best Ensemble Acting Award, that was for everybody, including two-thirds of my cast that was local. So to be a Buffalo guy to be back in Buffalo shooting this film, which I have to tell you I could not have made without the support of my hometown.”

Fichtner also explained that the central idea of the film was “how far would you go to help a friend.” He prided himself on it not being a traditional big screen film.

“Nothing needed to blow up and nobody needed to be naked,” Fichtner said. “And it was just about something else.”

Autumn Cieplinski, a junior at Brockport, attended the event after her mom tagged her in a Facebook post about it. She enjoyed that the film was unlike others she has seen. 

“It was something different,” Cieplinski said. “Like unique and not, you know, anything like nudity or sex, a lot of that stuff.”

Holli Cotton worked the event for Garnishes, helping with dinner at President Heidi Macpherson’s house, as well as providing snacks and refreshments for those in attendance for the film. While she had to work the event, Cotton said she would have come and viewed the film anyway. 

“I loved the film,” Cotton said. “Actually, I have seen a couple other films that Bill was in — ‘The Perfect Storm’ is my favorite.”

After a question and answer with Fichtner, Macpherson presented him with a small gift bag. 

“You might be a Buffalo guy, but you’re a Brockport guy through and through,” Macpherson said. “We are so delighted for you to come here, to share your magistery, to share your stories with us as well. Your inspirations are clear: start with criminal justice, take a theatre class and the world will open up to you.”

“Cold Brook” will be in select theatres on Nov. 8, including The Aurora Theatre in East Aurora, New York.

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