And they’re off!
Ponies, a movie directed by Bronx native Nick Sandow, and featuring his old Morris Park nabe as a big scene stealer, premiered on Friday, July 13 at Cinema Village in Manhattan.
The movie is Sandow’s debut as a director, shooting scenes on Morris Park Avenue.
But the film crew didn’t exactly win over the community when they first started filming.
John Fratta, assistant district manager for Community Board 11, said calls began pouring in when the movie started filming in 2009, with community members outraged at an OTB sign going up on at the vacant former site of WaMu on Morris Park and Hone Avenues.
“I got the first phone calls on Friday, June 19 that there was going to be an OTB,” Fratta said. “I immediately called up OTB like a raving lunatic and they didn’t know anything about it.”
After a little research, it was discovered that the sign was merely just a prop for the movie.
Ponies began was an original stage play written by Michael Batistick and was produced by Michael Imperioli’s Studio Dante, where it received a critically acclaimed extended run under Sandow.
In 2009, Batistick adapted his play for the big screen for Sandow to direct.
The cast includes John Ventimiglia, famous for his roles in many television appearances including his role as Arthur Bucco on the HBO series The Sopranos, Kevin Corrigan, Babs Olusanmokun, and Tonye Patano.
Sandow was born and raised in Morris Park Bronx, but said filming in his old neighborhood was simply a coincidence.
“We shot the film in the neighborhood where I grew up, which was an incredible coincidence,” Sandow said. “It’s been 25 years since I lived in that neighborhood, and to experience its generosity of spirit while shooting my first feature was a gift.”
Sandow said he was originally drawn to the project because of its focus on gambling.
“On the surface, it deals with gambling: its draw and the addiction of it,” Sandow said. “I was born and raised in a neighborhood where losing more money than you had to the local bookie was a rite of passage. I accomplished this at fifteen, but quickly realized that it was a sucker’s game and that it was much more profitable to be on the other side of it.”
Sandow said the other reason he took on the project was because of his anger over 9/11.
“It was post 9/11 and I was very angry that my country was inciting a war which I believed to be very obviously based on deception,” Sandow said. “Directing Ponies was a way for me to have a voice on this issue.”