“Roadie‚” a film getting a lot of press lately, is about a burned-out, slightly pudgy, middle-aged roadie for Blue Oyster Cult who is fired after 26 years and returns to live with his mother at her house on Long Island. If Sirad Balducci, who produced it with Michael Downey, were to return to Long Island from her gig in Manhattan, it would be to the home of her parents, Gioacchino and Carolyn Balducci (the program director of the Montauk Library), in Montauk.
The low-budget “Roadie” won best feature at the 2011 Stony Brook Film Festival and received a favorable review at last year’s Tribecca Film Festival in Manhattan, which helped get it noticed by the mainstream press, including The New York Times, Newsday, and the New York Daily News.
The story was written and directed by two brothers, Gerald and Michael Cuesta. Michael Cuesta has also written for “Six Feet Under,” “True Blood‚” and “Homeland,” which won a Golden Globe on Jan. 14 for best dramatic television series. He has also written and directed episodes of “Dexter” on Showtime.
Ms. Balducci has produced several other films but said getting “Roadie” made was unique for her in that it had an extremely experienced director who knew exactly what he wanted and was mindful of its budget and limitations.
Ms. Balducci, who has two young daughters, said the long hours were sometimes tough. “But I only work four to five months at a time and then get to be a full-time mom again, which is a lot more work!”
A producer helps to bring a script to life and supports the director’s vision while also helping to balance the artistic and financial aspects of a film. The job entails guiding the decisions so the entire movie can make it to the finish line.
“I like to think of it as landing a plane: You only have so much runway and you need to land it with exact precision,” Ms. Balducci said.
Mr. Downey, although not her regular production partner, was on the set every day.
The pair had to scout for a location that would accommodate two to three sets, cut deals with the actors, and hire interns. “It’s much more challenging to produce a low-budget film,” she said. “You are constantly negotiating and making compromises.”
The featured actors are notable for their other roles in movies and on telvevision. Ron Eldard stars as Jimmy Testagross, the over-the-hill roadie, who is “buried in fat and facial hair.” Bobby Cannavale plays his old high school nemesis — these days called a bully. Jill Hennessey plays Jimmy’s former girlfriend, now married to the bully, and Lois Smith is Jimmy’s aging mother, who never lets an opportunity pass without reminding him how long it’s been since he visited.
Michael Cuesta told The New York Times on Jan. 15 that the film is about “holding onto a dream, and not being aware of its expiration date. It’s also about aging and about grappling with this idea of relative success. How do you define successful?”
In the trade papers, tales of working with actors with big egos, especially on low-budget films, are rampant. But Ms. Balducci said the actors in “Roadie” knew going in that they weren’t in it for the money but rather for the love of the script. “They were gracious, professional, and we had a great time making this film together.”
For Ms. Balducci, success has been steadily building. She just wrapped “The Longest Week,” with Jason Bateman, Olivia Wilde, and Billy Crudup. She has also produced “Darkroom,” a horror film, and “A Little Help,” with Jenna Fisher and Chris O’Donnell. Released by Magnolia Pictures, “Roadie” ends its run at the Cinema Arts Center in Huntington tonight.
Ms. Balducci spends holidays and part of each summer with her two daughters and their father at her parents’ place in Montauk. “I’d love to do a screening out there,” she said.