As originally published on Friday, November 5, 1999
By Karen Gardner
Nando Amabile and Fred Berney are pooling their talents to put out a short drama, and they hope to keep their collaboration going to put out a television pilot.
"This is a mini-drama," Mr. Amabile said of "The Poets' Club," a 20-minute film they hope to enter in film festivals. The film, still in the editing stage, should be completed next week. It chronicles the relationships between a group of poets that culminate in a suicide.
The pair worked for 12 hours over two days in August to do the filming, here in Frederick. Many of the actors were members of the local poetry slam. Toby DeBarr, of Northern Virginia, who is president of the local poetry slam group, took part in it, as well as Sean Logan and Scott Kirkpatrick, also members from Northern Virginia.
Locally, Karen Finneyfrock and Colleen Brown are members and had roles in the movie. Charlie Smith, a local actor, played the man who committed suicide. A Montgomery County lawyer, Ron Earnest, played a reporter, while Dean Blehert played the villain.
The pair hope to come up with an idea for a television series pilot, and are seeking local contributions. "My strengths are I write well and I'm creative," Mr. Amabile said. "I'm a good idea man, and I'm talented at getting people to work for free. I'm a pretty good judge of talent."
Mr. Berney, on the other hand, has the technical know-how to operate a camera, with a knowledge of filming and sound techniques. He has 43 years of experience in the production business. At the age of 17, he produced a recording of his brother's junior high school musical revue, and his career has gone from there.
In 1964, he made an independent film, back when independent films weren't cool. "Once Upon A CoffeHouse" starred the then-unknown Joan Rivers and Deanna Lund. After that, his business went in the direction of industrial and training films for businesses. His business at one time included wedding videos. Now, corporate work takes up much of the time of Fred Berney and his wife, Ellen, who handles the business side of the production company.
Mr. Amabile is a retired high school English teacher who also worked for the Bureau of Prisons in personnel. He made a video to help the bureau recruit teachers to teach in prisons. He later worked in personnel for the Secret Service, and then spent three months working on a contract job with former U.S. Rep. Newt Gingrich.
He then retired about 10 years ago and returned to doing videos, first producing an exercise video for people 50 and over. Over the next several years, he sold 1,000 of them. He also did several award winning documentaries for cable TV outlets in the Washington, D.C., metro area. His biggest achievement was a video on Forest Glen, once a finishing school located near Silver Spring which later became part of Walter Reed Hospital, for amputees. That video, produced with the help of a small grant from the State of Maryland, is still in circulation.
His last project was a documentary on the "mayor of Silver Spring," a colorful, local man with many stories to tell.
He also spent many years working with the Frederick Arts Council after he moved to Frederick.
For information on Amabile/Satellite Productions, call 301-845-2737.
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